By Aidan Jonah – May 25, 2021
Update: Purported “journalist” Protasevich confirmed beyond a doubt to be a neo-Nazi who fought with Canadian backed Azov Battalion for a year.
Belarusian “journalist” Raman Protasevich has come into the news after being arrested by Belarusian police on May 23. Protasevich has been described as a brave journalist fighting for democracy, the typical description of suspicious figures salivated over by mainstream media.
Notably, the Belarussian government argues that “The Ryanair plane made an emergency landing due to a bomb threat on 23 May in Minsk, which later turned out to be fake. Belarusian investigators have already opened a probe over the incident.”
A fascinating twitter thread by Elena Evdokimova makes the case that there was clear reason for the Belarusian authorities to believe that the bomb threat was real, with their actions matching their fears.
Before he entered into the media sphere, Protasevich was a prominent local “democracy” activist in Belarus. A sympathetic Ukranian article on his background explained that:
“Back in 2012, he was detained as an administrator of opposition groups on social networks. Protasevich was then a member of the Young Front, a center-right pro-European organization that organized street activities against Lukashenko.”
Young Front is registered in the Czech Republic, and a nationalist, anti-communist and anti-Lukashenko organization.
FOIA Research explained that, “Protasevich was part of the Maidan in Kiev 2013/2014, as a picture on Facebook shows, where, clad in a Belarusian People’s State flag, he is taking part in the destruction of a Lenin statue.”
Dmytro Yarosh, was the head of Right Sector, a neo-nazi Ukranian confederation of militias formed in November 2013. Yarosh and Right Sector members would make up the core of the Azov battalion.
The Western backed Maidan coup against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, led by neo-nazi militias, was completed in February 2014.
The Canadian embassy in Ukraine helped the coup forces, as “opposition protesters [Right Sector included] were camped in the Canadian Embassy for a week during the February 2014 rebellion against Yanukovych. ‘Canada’s embassy in Kyiv was used as a haven for several days by anti-government protesters during the uprising that toppled the regime of former president Viktor Yanukovych,’ a Canadian Press story noted.
In June 2014, Ukraine formally integrated extremist far-right militias including the Aidar, Dnipro, Donbass, and Azov battalions which played a crucial role in the Maidan coup, into the National Guard, which is led by Ministry of Internal Affairs.
University of Ottawa Professor Ivan Katchanovski brought Ukrainian media reports to light which reveal that Protasevich served in the press-service of the neo-Nazi-led Azov battalion during the war in Donbass. Verified photos show Protasevich appearing in Azov battalion’s official publication “Black Sun” in 2015. The Ukrainian initiated war in Donbass begun in April 2014, after Donbass citizens voted en masse to join Russia post-Maidan coup, until a ceasefire was agreed in September 2014.
This means that Protasevich effectively acted as an agent of a ministry of the Ukrainian government during his time serving with the Azov Battalion.
Richard Sanders revealed that, in September 2014, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’ Toronto Ukrainian festival “allowed Right Sector Canada [Canadian support arm of Right Sector – which made up core of Azov] to raise money to buy military equipment for their fighters in Ukraine. CBC’s TV news showed Right Sector’s table with images of Bandera. That year’s festival received a $99,700 Canadian government handout.”
FOIA Research exposed how “[Protasevich] is a sympathizer of the Pahonia Detachment, a Belarusian militia that has fought alongside the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion in Ukraine’s post-Maidan civil war.”
In 2015, the Stephen Harper government initiated Operation UNIFIER, a program which saw the Canadian Armed Forces supply the Ukrainian military and paramilitary police units with training and weapons.
Weapons from this program have consistently reached neo-nazi militas, such as Azov, which Protasevich closely collaborated with, thanks to lacklustre “efforts” to “prevent” weapons from reaching them.
These militias have also been accused of committing war crimes on multiple occasions, while in spring 2018, a lethal wave of anti-Roma pogroms swept through Ukraine, with at least six attacks in two months. The C14 and the National Druzhina, the two gangs behind the the attacks, proudly posted pogrom videos on social media. National Druzhina is a part of the Azov Battalion.
Protasevich joins the media in earnest
During a wave of anti-Lukashenko protests in 2017, Protasevich would appear with Neo-Nazis on multiple occasions. This included being part of book burnings.
Meanwhile, Protasevich acted as a blogger and worked as a contributor to the Russian daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.
After being arrested for hooliganism, Protasevich would leave for Prague, Czech Republic in December 2017, and begin formally integrating into the imperialist media sphere.
Protasevich was a 2017-18 Vaclav Havel Journalism fellow in Prague, for US funded regime change outlet Radio Free Liberty/Europe.
Four months after a week long tour of the US State Department, in April 2018, Protasevich began working for USAID funded Belarus Euroradio.fm on August 31, 2018.
He left this job in December 2019, and would announce his new job, as Editor-in-Chief of Nexta, a foreign funded Telegram messaging channel covering Belarusian news, located in Poland, beginning in March 2020.
Stepan Putila, Protasevich’s partner at Nexta, worked for years at Belsat, which has been funded by the Polish Foreign Ministry since 2007, before engaging closely with Nexta.
Nexta played a key role in organizing pro-coup demonstrations in Belarus to protest Western supported candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who only won 11 per cent of the vote, yet falsely claims that the election was rigged in Lukashenko’s favour, along with regime change organization NED’s funded activists in Belarus.
An article in the Orinoco Tribune explained how the West attempted to de-legitimize the elections in Belarus:
“Belarus had, as usual, expected the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to send election observers for the August 9 election. But the OSCE preemptively announced that it would not do so because an invitation was allegedly too late:
‘The lack of a timely invitation more than two months after the announcement of the election has prevented ODIHR from observing key aspects of the electoral process,” ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said. ‘These include areas we have noted in recent observation reports as requiring improvement in Belarus, such as the formation of election commissions and registration of candidates. It is clear from the outcomes of these processes that the authorities have not taken any steps to improve their inclusiveness.’
The government of Belarus was surprised by the one-sided step:
‘Indeed, to be honest, ODIHR’s decision was disappointing and unexpected. We really hope that this decision will be revised. After all, today, a day after the registration of presidential candidates, in line with earlier public statements, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent invitations to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. These are our traditional partners in election observation. We remain strongly committed to our promises and obligations, including within the framework of the OSCE,’ Anatoly Glaz said.
He emphasized that Belarus has never held elections without observation. ‘This time we were also determined to invite OSCE/ODIHR observers after the candidate registration. It was announced publicly on numerous occasions, we informed our western partners, senior officials of the Office and personally Ingibjorg Gisladottir about it. We are absolutely transparent in this context and this can be double-checked,’ the spokesman said.
The willful absence of OSCE election observers later allowed ‘western’ media and politicians to claim that the election, which Belarus’ President Lukashenko won, had been unfair.”
The Confederation of Independent States’ (CIS) election observation mission, headed by Sergei Lebedev, found no evidence of fraud in the Belarusian election. Lebedev stated that “The election was open, competitive and ensured the free expression of the will of citizens of Belarus.”
Belarus has long been a target for regime change, for the West. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is a socialist who has the support of the Communist Party of Belarus since its founding in 1996. He has had the bravery to praise Stalin and Lenin for their definitive contributions to socialism and Marxism-Leninism. Belarus has refused to join NATO, and has condemned its attempts to interfere in the country.
Belarus, while having a slight thaw in relations with Russia for a short period of time during the mid-2010s, still maintains close and positive relations with Russia, an anti-imperialist state refusing to bow down to Washington. It also maintains positive relations with Cuba, while embracing China’s Belt and Road Initiative as part of positive relations with the country, continues to deepen positive relations with Venezuela, while seeking to initiate a “new era” of positive relations with North Korea: all these countries mentioned are prime targets of Western imperialism.
Belarus has also refused to privatize public infrastructure and state owned firms, and has succeeded in drastically slashing poverty, avoiding the drastic drop in life expectancy experienced by former USSR republics after they embraced capitalism. Meanwhile the World Bank wants Belarus to privatize state firms and cut subsidies, while the European Union is laughably attempting to bribe Belarus with a “3 billion euro economic and investment package ready to go for Belarus,” when it embraces the same capitalist system which devastated other former USSR republics.
Things came to a head for Protasevich on May 23, when he took a flight from Greece to Lithuania, and had his plane forced to land in Belarus, after the plane came into Belarussian airspace.
While the media worries endlessly for Protasevich, back in 2013, Evo Morales’ plane was stopped in Austria, and rejected from flying in French and Portuguese airspace, on the orders of the United States government, who falsely thought that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. The mainstream media lacked the same worry back then.
There is a pattern of US allies stopping planes to search for alleged state enemies, as detailed in this thread. Elena Evdokimova explained that “on 11 OCT 2012, Turkish fighters forced [the landing of] a Syrian passenger plane, flying from Moscow to Syria, Turkish intelligence agencies alleged that they ‘received the intelligence that ‘non-civilian’ cargo was on board the Syrian plane.’”
An airplane close to Belarussian airspace had even previously been targeted by the Ukrainian military:
“In 2016, 50 km before the Belarusian border, Ukraine threatened to use military fighters against a civilian carrier – to turn the passenger plane around & land it in Kiev, After the landing, 1 passenger was removed from the aircraft by the Ukrainian SBU”.
That passenger was an anti-Maidan coup activist.
FOIA Research explains that “His [Protasevich’s] presence in Greece roughly coincided with a visit of the Western-backed regime change leader in exile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, with the President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt. According to Protasevich’s Twitter account, during Tsikhanouskaya’s stay in Athens he worked as her photographer, and took pictures of here in different settings.”
Protasevich is likely to face charges for extremism, as NEXTA was declared an extremist outlet by Belarussian court. He has close ties to neo-Nazi extremists, has openly participated in their acts in Belarus, actively served for Canadian supported Ukrainian neo-nazi Azov Battalion, and chose to work for US funded regime change outlets for multiple years. Protasevich can legitimately be described as a subversive counter-revolutionary seeking to bring down the Belarussian government, and will likely pay the price for his choices.
Featured imagen: Raman Pratsevich appearing in a 2015 issue of Azov Battalion’s official magazine, “Black Sun”.
Aidan Jonah is the Editor-in-Chief of The Canada Files, a socialist, anti-imperialist news site founded in 2019. He has written about Canadian imperialism, federal politics, and left-wing resistance to colonialism across the world. He is a second-year Bachelor of Journalism student at Ryerson University, who was the Head of Communications and Community Engagement for Etobicoke North NDP Candidate Naiima Farah in the 2019 Federal Election.