Blogger Gonzalo Lira is in custody not for criticizing Volodymyr Zelenskyi, but for violating Article 436-2 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code — justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine. In particular, Lira publicly justified Russia’s attack on Ukraine, denied Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and mass killings of civilians in Bucha and other cities, revealed the location and identities of Western journalists and the Ukrainian military. Additionaly, there is no evidence that any torture was used against Gonzalo Lira.

In social networks and on Russian websites, information is spreading that the American blogger with pro-Russian views, Gonzalo Lira, is allegedly being tortured in a Ukrainian pre-trial detention center. Moreover, according to the Russian media, Lira was detained “for criticizing Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyi.” The first to publish this information on his X (Twitter) page was the infamous American TV presenter Tucker Carlson, who is a supporter of Donald Trump and is against providing any aid to Ukraine.

“Gonzalo Lira is an American citizen who has been tortured in a Ukrainian prison since July because he criticized Zelenskyi. Biden officials approve of it because they would like to apply the same standard here. The media agrees,” Carlson writes. Following Carlson, the American billionaire and head of X (Twitter) company Elon Musk demanded an explanation from the Ukrainian side regarding the arrest of an American citizen. “An American citizen is in prison in Ukraine after we sent over $100 billion? Is there more to this story than simply criticizing Zelenskyi? If that’s all it is, then we have a serious problem here,” Musk wrote. Musk also accused Ukraine of allegedly torturing Gonzalo Lira.

In reality, there is no evidence that any torture was used against Gonzalo Lira. Moreover, there is no criminal liability in Ukraine for criticizing the president. The American blogger was arrested on May 1, 2023 in Kharkiv for violating Article 436-2 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code — justifying Russian aggression against Ukraine. In a comment to the Ukrainian media, representatives of Ukraine’s Security Service stated that the actions of Ukrainian law enforcement officers regarding the arrest of pro-Russian blogger Gonzalo Lira were strictly in line with the law.

“Lira, who has dual citizenship of Chile and the US, was arrested in the Kharkiv region for encouraging Russian aggression in Ukraine and spreading pro-Kremlin ideas on social networks. The investigation showed that Lira’s videos deny Russian war crimes and justify Russian aggression. Lira claimed that Ukraine is shelling its own territory and is ruled by a neo-Nazi regime,” emphasizes.

Such activity is a criminal offense according to Art. 436-2 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code (justifying, recognizing as legitimate, denying Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine, heroizing its participants). The Security Service documented Lira’s activities and served the blogger with a notice of suspicion. In May 2023, the court chose a preventive measure for him in the form of detention with the possibility of bail. He was initially released under house arrest after posting bail, but was arrested again in July while trying to cross the Hungarian border on a motorcycle. Currently, Lira is in the pre-trial detention center in Kharkiv. His court hearings are scheduled for December 12 and 21, 2023.

It should also be noted that Gonzalo Lira denied the fact of mass murders of civilians in Bucha and other Ukrainian cities, disclosed the location of Western journalists and Ukrainian military personnel and their identities. Moreover, according to The Daily Beast, Gonzalo Lira blamed Ukraine for being attacked by Russia, calling this war “one of the most brilliant invasions in military history.” In addition, Lira defended Putin’s motives, arguing that the Russians are making extra efforts not to damage civilian infrastructure or harm civilians. On his YouTube, Telegram, and X (Twitter) accounts, the blogger spread a number of previously debunked conspiracy theories, including Russia’s claims that Ukraine hosts “American bioweapons laboratories.”

The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications in their article What’s wrong with the pro-Russian blogger Gonzalo Lira, defended by Carlson and Musk, detailed the blogger’s months-long anti-Ukrainian activities.

At the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, StopFake exposed Lira’s numerous pro-Russian fakes about the war in the article “Fake from an American ‘writer’ in Kyiv: “Russia does not kill anyone!”.