Tuesday, October 25 2016 20:01 EEST
Describing Motorola as "pro-Russian" is clearly absurd - international media coverage of Donbas conflict promotes Russian aggression – Atlantic Council
Russia, separatist, Sparta, Motorola, Arsen Pavlov, killing, murder, bomb blast, elevator, war, Donbas, Ukraine, Donetsk, versions,  DNR, LNR

In the wake of the killing of the Russian militant leader Arsen Pavlov in Donetsk in mid-October, one news report after another ran with headlines referring to Pavlov as a pro-Russian separatist leader, creating the impression of a Russia-leaning local who was defending his democratic rights by force of arms, Peter Dickinson wrote in his article titled "There They Go Again: International Media Enables Russian Aggression in Ukraine" published by Atlantic Council October 21.

In reality, Pavlov was much more than simply "pro-Russian". He was an actual Russian. This is not a matter of mere semantics — it is the crux of the entire conflict. Pavlov was one of tens of thousands of Russian citizens who have traveled to neighboring Ukraine in order to wage war, reports UNIAN.

The forces Russia has deployed for this purpose include a mixture of regular army troops without insignia ("little green men"), paramilitaries drawn from Russian army veterans, Russian nationalists, common criminals, and local recruits. Together, they form a hybrid army of occupation that is larger than the armed forces of all but a handful of European states. Describing such people as "pro-Russian" is clearly absurd, and yet it continues. By almost any rational measure, Pavlov's nationality should have been central to the international media coverage of his demise. Instead, in most reports it appeared as a mere footnote.

Early reported according to Stratfor Motorola`s murder could be a sign of Russia`s fast withdrawal from Donbas.

Also messages from Motorola's phone indicate he was worried Russia might kill him.

The media response to the death of Pavlov has highlighted the problems international reporters continue to face when covering events in Ukraine. Ever since the seizure of Crimea in early 2014, correspondents and editors have struggled to find the right terminology to define the Ukraine conflict and accurately describe the various combatants.

These difficulties are no accident. Russia's hybrid war tactics aim to create exactly this kind of ambiguity in order to paralyze international opinion and prevent an effective response. Why have Russia's tactics proved so effective? One of the key factors has been the ethical obligation among international news outlets to maintain objectivity and present "both sides of the story." Unfortunately, journalists who adhere to it blindly at the expense of common sense are defenseless when confronted by an actor whose modus operandi includes lies and disinformation designed specifically to exploit this commitment to journalistic balance.

Peter Dickinson, Atlantic Council

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