Manuel Ochsenreiter Crimean Referendum Observer, Editor at Zuerst

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Crimea: No Russian Invasion Just Happy People

Download audio file 21 April, 02:49

The campaign by the western media to demonize Russia, beat the drums of war and paint the recent Crimean reunification with Russia as illegitimate, something that even the OSCE had decided to do before it was carried out, is one of the most dangerous and egregious demonization campaigns in recent history. The reporting of lies and fabrication of news is at such a level that it might even be considered criminal. In order to help get to the truth the Voice of Russia interviewed observers and people on the ground, one such observer, the Editor in Chief of the German monthly Zuerst, Manuel Ochsenreiter, spoke to us about what he saw and more importantly what he did NOT see in Ukraine.

Coverage in the western media statements by the US-EU officials and now a report by the UN, all try to paint a negative portrait of the Crimean referendum. According to Paul Robert, a former Assistant US Treasury Secretary, a UN report that was just released is simply propaganda created by Washington and lacsk both grounds and credibility, as well as evidence. He said that the report was an orchestrated propaganda attempt that had been arranged to: serve the US agenda; discredit the referendum and deflect attention from the fact that Washington overthrew a democratically elected government in Europe.

This is John Robles, you are listening to an interview with Manuel Ochsenreiter. He is the Editor-in-Chief for the Zuerist monthly German publication. He was an observer of the Crimean referendum. This is part 1 of a longer interview. You can find the rest of this interview on our website at voiceofrussia.com

Robles: Hello Sir! How are you this evening?

Ochsenreiter: Fine, thank you.

Robles: It is a pleasure to be speaking with you. I understand you were one of the international observers that had a chance to observe the referendum in Crimea. Can you tell us how you came about to be in Crimea and what your impressions were?

Ochsenreiter: I observed the referendum in Crimea, but I was not one of the official international observers. I was there as a German journalist for my magazine.

And of course, we were with a Russian friend who was helping me as a translator and who was also working as a journalist. We were there for one week before the referendum began. We were doing a lot of reportage and interviews trying to find out how the atmosphere was and also trying to find out what is true about the western media coverage about the situation in Crimea.

So, we spent there a week and, of course, we observed the referendum. We spoke to the international observers, we interviewed them as well to get a view and to get an insight on what is going on in Crimea besides the western mainstream media.

Robles: Can you tell us what did you see? You were there over a week or how long exactly?

Ochsenreiter: Yes, one week.

Maybe it is more easy to answer the question what I didn’t see, because when I arrived in Crimea, I was very much impressed by the western media coverage.

And the day when I was flying to Crimea, I saw on my TV screen Russian tanks rolling through Ukraine invading Crimea. I saw the Russian military machine actually occupying Crimea and oppressing the population.

Robles: I’m sorry, you actually saw footage of Russian tanks rolling through the streets?

Ochsenreiter: I saw that on TV, yes. But I didn’t see that when I arrived there. When I arrived there, there was no Russian invasion. This is what I meant I saw... When I arrived in Crimea, I didn’t witness there what is saw on my western/mainstream TV screen. It was a completely different situation.

There was no occupation, there was no military invasion of Crimea. It was very normal. I think for many journalists it might have seemed even boring, if you are under the impression of the Western mainstream coverage.

Robles: Wow! I’ve heard the same thing from my own sources in the region, from other witnesses, from experts. I did have a chance to speak to some of the other observers there. They all said the same thing.

Ochsenreiter: Everybody who was there in person will confirm that, of course, yeah.

Robles: Yeah, I just don’t understand how the West is getting away with manufacturing news.

Ochsenreiter: It is usual, I was making the joke when I was coming back and people asked me and colleagues asked me: “So how was the Russian invasion?”

And I said: "Well, the Russian invasion must be at the same place where the masses of peaceful democratic protesters of Syria are. Because within the last three years I was in the Syrian war several times in Syria and I saw many, many things, but I didn’t see the masses of peaceful democrats protesting against the regime in Syria.

So, the Western mainstream media generally gets away with their lies because I think it has to do with the fact that the majority of the people is also used to that.

I mean ask people in the street how much you can believe of the media coverage? It would be a very depressing number, I think less than 50% maybe.

Robles: To the level of that, manufacturing is unbelievable. I’ve actually seen some Ukrainian mainstream television coverage and it was stunning. They were also reporting these massive Russian troops movements on the borders and they were talking about all these spies coming in, and all this stuff. And then, you get the real footage along all the border zones and there are farmers walking with their cows, there is not a tank in sight. But yet on the Ukrainian side all the land is dug up supposedly to stop tanks. It is unbelievable! It is just a complete fabrication! It was like when they were trying to say a couple of years ago about these protests that were taking place in Moscow and they used footage from Greece. I have no words for it. I mean, especially when it is a pretext to military aggression. The same thing, like you were saying, in Syria. It is criminal!

Ochsenreiter: Exactly! When we are talking about this now, as journalists we have to say that this is a real crime and not just a crime toward the Crimeans or the Russians, it is a crime against the western population itself who are victims of those manufactured stories, of course. But this is what is here going on. I mean, it is not new.

We have the demonization of Russia, we had the Sochi Olympic Games where seriously western journalists were complaining about the height of the toilets in Sochi and so on, what was all invented and was completely untrue.

But you see that the degree of the truth in western mainstream media coverage becomes lower and lower in my impression. And most ridiculous point about this is when you go there as a journalist yourself and you say: "Well, I want to see what is going on, I want to see if this is true", as I did with Syria and now as I did with Crimea.

Then your mainstream colleagues attack you and they say “Yes, you want to please the regime in Moscow, the regime in Damascus or the regime wherever."

So they even put you in a bad light when you say: "Well, I do what a journalist does I go there and I check myself what is true and what is not true."

Robles: Yeah, you've been accused of everything. I mean, you've been accused of being some sort of nazi-sympathizer or something, I think on the net.

Ochsenreiter: Yes, exactly. I was criticized by some, blamed to be a nazi by some writers who actually wrote for a website which is sponsored by the Khodorkovsky Foundation this should be mentioned.

But we have of course a very influential news network to spread such things, Twitter, Facebook, generally we are the net.

The point is if you read that article, they were saying, yes, I'm the new nazi which is always on Russia Today and representing Germany, so this is a campaign actually going against Russia, against the news channel Russia Today and of course they try to hit the news channel by blaming me to be a nazi.

The point is when you read that article you will rarely find any true fact in this but that doesn't play a role. We have to see that we are now in the stage of a media war we are since a long time. It is not anymore about truth or about lies it is about to put so much dirt and damage on the other side that they lose completely the credibility and we have to say that the other side, by "the other side" I mean the liberal, the pro-American side has a lot of reason to do so. Because when we see that they are the ones who support a putsch hooligan government right now in Kiev, a government with close ties to organized crime, to oligarchs as well as to international terrorism, the so called Right Sector, we still talk about the Right Sector as if this is a party or a group but actually we have to talk about international terrorism.

We know that activists of the Right Sector were fighting in the Chechen wars on the side of Chechen Islamists as well as they fought on the side of Georgia in 2008 against Russia.

So we should put that back in order when we talk about those accusations, we should always see who is accusing who of being a neo-nazi, of being a Bolshevik, of being an extremist, of being whatever.

It is just to put dirt on the other side, there is no other reason.

Robles: I feel for people in the West, because you guys are surrounded by this propaganda. I mean at least I'm getting some of the truth coming out of Ukraine, I mean I'm getting first-hand reports and everything. Even though I work for state media, you know I work for state media, so you know where my bias could be but I think it is horrible when you have something that is considered maybe a "seeker-of-truth" publication like the Guardian.

Ochsenreiter: You are a paid agent.

Robles: Well, fine, I'll admit it, but you know that. So I mean my bias would be clear but when you have somebody coming up saying they are independent media and just posting lies, I'd like to just name one like the Guardian and their Luke Harding who everywhere he goes he is demonizing Russia but they pretend to be on the left, they pretend to be liberal and seekers of truth but their product is quite the opposite.

Can you tell us there were some reports from Germany that a lot of the population were protesting about the war propaganda? This was a couple of weeks ago in Der Spiegel. It seemed like the German press is trying to outdo each other in demonizing Russia and pleasing Obama. Can you tell us what is it like in Germany.

Ochsenreiter: Well, this is a thing. I mean we had the term during the Third Reich, it was the term of the Gleichschaltung the equalizing of the public opinion. So by that time there was an order of the state to do so, but when we look now, we have the whole mainstream media in such sort of Gleichschaltung, in an equalized media coverage about Russia from conservative right to alternative left, the demonization of Russia and of the Russian president Vladimir Putin is everywhere the same.

They choose different elements of criticizing or of defaming Russia. But it is like a huge army, it is like the artillery of the public opinion. They are all firing against Russia and they are completely equal. You will not find among the mainstream media in Germany any which is trying to get an objective or neutral point in this. And we are not talking about being pro-Russian, being pro-Russian right now is sign for you being a so called extremist or radical.

So this makes me in the eyes of many people who are supporting this pro- American and anti-Russian course, they call me a neo-Nazi, others are called insane, the next ones are called Bolsheviks or they are slaves of the Kremlin or whatever.

Robles: Brainwashed.

Ochsenreiter: You are not facing a debate, exactly, you are not facing a debate about the facts anymore. You just have to put the dirt they throw on you, you have to put it away. But you are not anymore talking about the facts, you are not debating anymore. I think this is the background of it all to make it impossible to discuss a thing in an objective and in a neutral way by defaming everybody who is not sharing the mainstream opinion, and this is what is going on and as I said it is not just going on with Russia, it is going on in almost every geopolitical issue we are debating.

And when we were talking,just one example, when we were talking about the referendum on Crimea you know that inside the EU and the mainstream politics in Germany, everybody was saying: "We shouldn't recognize the result of this referendum because it is illegal."

But it shows that we have inside the EU a certain problem with everything that has to do with Democracy or with direct democracy because the same thing happened if you remember several months ago in Switzerland, the people had referendum about mass immigration, the Swiss population said: "We don't want the mass immigration without limits."

So the EU and the European member states were criticizing this as well and were doubtingif this could be a legal referendum and so on.

So we have this everywhere where the people are allowed to rise their voice and to say what they think. We will find somebody in Brussels or in Berlin, in London or in Paris who will criticize this as illegal.

Robles: I see. Well, I understand that, a lot of the international observers who was supposed to come or asked to come, like the OSE from the outset they refused to send observers because and they said this before it happened "that will grant the process legitimacy". So from the very beginning they were not interested whether it was legitimate or not, they had already decided it was illegitimate.

Ochsenreiter: Exactly. And we should always say that when it comes to geopolitics it is not about equal standards.

We should get used to the fact that the West, the EU the NATO, the US use their own standards and they are not willing to share those standards with others.

So, I told you I was there with my Russian friend on Crimea. It was sometimes a very little funny situation because we were walking around there and a lot of western media teams were there and they were asking my Russian friend, they were interviewing him, what he thinks and they all asked him the same questions, they were asking him how he sees the fact that the West declares that referendum not as a legal referendum.

And at the first my friend was trying to answer those questions in a serious way but later on he had to laugh because we were surrounded by happy people with Russian flags.

The whole Crimea was celebrating, it was a little bit like Germany on November, 9th, 1989 when the Wall came down: these people were celebrating actually reunification. It was hard to find anybody on Crimea who was against becoming Russian.

So, when you are here and you say: "Well, now tell me something about law and legitimacy and how it should be organized", the people want that and there is such a basic democratic act like asking the people what the West never would dare to do.

The West for example I'm coming from Germany, I never had the right to participate at any referendum about the decisive political project, I wasn't asked if I want to send soldiers to Afghanistan, I was never asked if I still want to be member of the NATO, I'm not asked if I wanted to have the EURO currency, I'm even not asked if I want to bail out Ukraine.

You were listening to an interview with Manuel Ochsenreiter. He is the Editor-in-Chief for the Zuerst monthly magazine in Germany. He was also an observer of the Crimean referendum. You can find the next part of this interview on our website at voiceofrussia.com. Thank you very much for listening and as always I wish you the best wherever you may be.

 

Last Update: 07/16/2017 18:40 +0300

 

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