Russia’s Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda got into the visa-free travel to the EU is doom for Ukrainians game in a special report menacingly entitled “Visa free travel for Ukraine. Window to nowhere”. The 20 minute piece is a classic of the disinformation genre, a cut and paste job of unconnected, aggressive video, menacing music, threatening narration, and doomsday commentary.
The report’s central message is that visa-free travel for Ukrainians is a conspiracy concocted by the EU and the Ukrainian government to exploit Ukraine and its cheap labor force, buy up its fertile land and use the country as a dumping ground for European chemical waste. We won’t let you join Europe, but you can visit for a while, the narrator declares ominously.
The film features several displaced former Ukrainians who fled to Russia in the wake of the Maidan revolution as experts; they make dire pronouncements on Ukraine’s future. Among them is former Ukrainian game show host Yuriy Kot who was active during the Maidan protests hosting pro-government rallies and protests. Today Mr. Kot lives in Moscow and works for the propagandist Ukraina.ru web site.
Also featured as an expert is the self-avowed Stalinist, Odessa born Anatoliy Vasserman. A Russian citizen, Vasserman considers Ukraine to be an indivisible part of Russia and the Ukrainian and Belarusian languages Russian dialects. He also advocates legalization of all drugs and believes the US killed Venezuelan president Ugo Chavez.
Former Ukrainian Regions Party MP Volodymyr Oliynyk, one of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych’s most ardent apologists is also featured in the film, it is he who declares that visa-free travel will result in some four to five million Ukrainians leaving their country to work in Europe. “This is a cheap labor force, this is what Hitler dreamed of” Oliynyk declares.
On the one hand the film claims that ignorant Ukrainians are unaware that visa-free travel does not grant them the right to work in Europe, but on the other Zvezda’s experts raise the alarm and predict that millions of Ukrainians will leave their country to work in Europe.
A poll conducted by the Rating Group sociological agency in September 2016 showed that 65% of Ukrainians do not want to emigrate, 40% would like to work abroad and only 30% would like to emigrate if they had the chance.
The Ukrainian government and the country’s media have conducted an extensive campaign explaining exactly what visa-free travel to the EU means, the ability to travel as a tourist for a period of 90 days. Neither the EU, nor the Ukrainian government ever claimed or promised that visa-free travel entailed the right to work in the Schengen zone. Here at StopFake we have debunked several Russian propagandist stories to that effect.
Another claim that Zvezda pushes in its “Window to nowhere” film is that so many Ukrainians are trying to get to Europe that they brought down the Ukrainian Passport Office server with mass applications for new biometric passports. Certain passport offices were briefly closed in April in connection with a Security Service investigation of an internet provider. The country’s many passport bureaus are operating normally.
And finally land. That’s what’s really behind vis- free travel to the EU, according to Zvezda. Europe wants to gobble up Ukraine’s rich agricultural because it has only a limited amount of that commodity at its disposal.
Ukraine is currently not selling agricultural land,a government moratorium remains in effect until land reform legislation is enacted. Seven million Ukrainians currently own 27 million hectares of arable agricultural land, much of it is leased out to large grain and farming enterprises.