On July 14, Russian and separatists’ sites (Novorossia, Regnum, RiaFAN, and REN-TV, among others) distorted comments made by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk about the conflict between the Right Sector and police in Zakarpattia Oblast and the issue of contraband in the region. The skewed stories ran with such headlines as “Yatsenyuk Took the Side of the Right Sector.”
Skirmishes broke out on July 11 between Right Sector members, supporters of Parliament member Mykhaylo Lanio, and police in Mukacheve.
Lenta.ru reported the following: “The Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk thinks that the organization Right Sector reasonably accuses police of Zakarpattia Oblast. He said this in an interview with the Associated Press agency during his visit to Washington, where he had a meeting with the President of the USA Barack Obama and the Vice President Joseph Biden. According to the agency, the Prime Minister of Ukraine takes the side of the Right Sector in this conflict. ‘It wasn’t about the Right Sector. This is about corruption and smuggling and arms on the street,’ Yatsenyuk pointed out. He said the skirmish in Mukacheve was caused by the criminal activity of the police. ‘They [the police of Zakarpattia Oblast – note by Lenta.ru] supported smugglers and contraband and everyone will be brought to justice for the crimes that they have committed,’ the Prime Minister stressed.”
In truth, Yatsenyuk did not take a side and offered no opinion on Right Sector accusations, and the Associated Press makes no such claim. Yatsenyuk also did not specifically implicate the police in the interview in supporting smugglers.
The communications department for the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has released the transcript of the interview.
Journalist: “What will you do with the situation around the Right Sector? We have seen quite alarming events even during the last 48 hours. Is this a gang of bandits? What will be your response?”
Yatsenyuk: “It wasn’t about the Right Sector. This is about corruption and smuggling and arms on the street. We have to fix all three problems at once.”
Journalist: “But, supposing there are gangs that support the government and the sovereignty of the state, they kidnap…”
Yatsenyuk: “I’d like to stress once more. They supported smugglers and contraband and everyone will be brought to justice for the crimes that they have committed.”
The sites that ran the distorted reports provided no direct links to the interview. Lenta.ru provided only a link to the Associated Press’s homepage.