Yves here. Hopefully readers who understand Canada’s libel and defamation laws can pipe up. Presumably most of you already know about Consortium News’ libel suit. From its site :
Consortium News has sent libel notices to the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s version of the U.S. National Security Agency, and to a major Canadian television network, Global News, for a report that said Consortium News was “part of a cyber-influence campaign directed by Russia.”
Consortium News promoted a story that was widely picked up and deservedly embarrassing to Chyrstia Freeland, then Canada’s foreign minister, more recently its deputy prime minister. Freeland is of Ukrainian descent and is rabidly anti-Russian. She has falsely and knowingly depicted her family as victims of the Nazis who fled persecution, when her grandfather was a prominent Nazi propagandist operating out of Krakow.
Mind you, this is all factually accurate. But Consortium News may not be on solid ground in challenging the Canadian accounts of its story.
A Helmer describes, Consortium News may have badly undermined its position via its attribution. Helmer himself originated the story, as the Consortium News story linked to above acknowledges….but Consortium News didn’t in its piece on l’affaire Freeland a month later.
Instead, its story came from “journalist Arina Tsukanova exclusively for CN”. The problem is that no such person appears to exist; it looks to be a handle created by the Strategic Culture Foundation in Moscow. Helmer points out that there is speculation that the Strategic Culture Foundation gets funding from the Russian Orthodox Church; the Canadian government believes the Russian government supports it. Regardless, it appears to have an explicit mission of promoting Russian nationalism.
So Consortium News has undermined its case, perhaps fatally, by not making clear when it ran its Freeland piece that it was re-reporting Helmer’s work. Helmer is in hot water with the Russian government and was even barred from entering Russia at the time the Freeland story ran. Helmer also knew Freeland from his days at the Financial Times, when she was his editor for a bit. To put it politely, he found her to be ideological and sloppy. So it would be well nigh impossible to depict Consortium News as a Russian stooge for relying on Helmer. But apparently fabricated personas created by a shadowy Russian foundation?
I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, particularly since we were falsely smeared for being Russian stooges, apparently for sins like questioning rising inequality and other failings of our purported leaders. But if you are going to attack government officials even in a small country like Canada for misrepresentations about their backgrounds, as opposed to garden variety incompetence and mendacity, you need to have your ducks in a row. Going to court similarly requires you to be able to defend your bona fides. Consortium News looks to have set itself up to be vulnerable. I sincerely hope they prevail, but I would not bet on it.
By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears
The truth is that Consortium News trusted a Russian entity named the Strategic Culture Foundation and a Ukrainian reporter called Arina Tsukanova for a story published on February 27, 2017, about Chrystia Freeland’s grandfather Mikhail Chomiak, a propagandist and spy for the German Army who advocated and assisted in the murder of the Jews, Poles and Russians during World War II, and took his reward by stealing Jewish property – publishing company, office, apartment, antique furniture, and limousine.
The story about Freeland and the ethnic cleansing of Ukraine on which Freeland agrees, still, with Chomiak, was the truth. It’s also a truth she tries to escape by blaming the Russian state or Kremlin propaganda for repeating. Repeating doesn’t turn the truth into a lie, though as Joseph Goebbels advised, repeating the lie helps.
The point isn’t that Freeland is culpable in her grandfather’s sins. Her sin is hiding them, and her reason for doing so. She agrees with Chomiak on turning Ukraine into the Greater Galicia it was Adolf Hitler’s objective to achieve between 1939 to 1945: that’s to say, cleanse the territory of Jews, Poles and Russians by killing them all. Chomiak succeeded with the first two; he was then employed by the US Army on the third. Freeland is keeping the plan in the family; they now have the Canadian government behind them. Demonizing Russians is part of the same plan as it was in Chomiak’s day.
The irony is that the Freeland-Chomiak story was plagiarized from an American reporter who first published the details on January 19, 2017. At the time, and still, he was banned from entering Russia by the Kremlin because, according to a senior official in Moscow, “he writes bad things about our country”; no western journalist has been banned for as long – since September 27, 2010. The reporter was me.
There’s another truth wrapped in an irony. Arina Tsukanova, the byline writer of the Strategic Culture Foundation story and the Consortium News story, cannot be found; isn’t known at the media of Kiev and Crimea where her published pieces claim she works; and doesn’t reply to emails and Facebook communications. She is a ghost—a byline invented by the Strategic Culture Foundation in Moscow.
The Galician state plan, the genocide which went with it, and the current campaign of lies against Russia didn’t start with Chomiak or end with Freeland. In Canada they have been continued by many officials; among them Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, commander of the Canadian Army, then Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, 2016-2019, and now a minister in the Alberta provincial government; and Roman Waschuk, Canada’s ambassador to Kiev, 2014-2019; for their details, click.
Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the German death camp whose liberation by the Red Army on January 27, 1945, is celebrated last week and this, was part of the Galician territory under German occupation. It was seventy kilometres west of Chomiak’s office in Cracow, within his killing range. Opponents and critics of the Galician plan, and researchers of the war crimes committed by Chomiak and others include many Canadians of Ukrainian origin, including John-Paul Himka, a professor of history now retired from the University of Alberta in Edmonton; he and they have been the target of ostracism and worse from the Ukrainian-Canadian community; read more.
According to Himka (right) there is “a blank spot in the collective memory of the Ukrainian diaspora”, and a “double standard in discussing war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Ukrainians as opposed to those perpetrated against Ukrainians. Memoirs and eyewitness accounts, for example, are considered untrustworthy evidence for the former, but trustworthy for the latter; that is, Jewish or Polish first-hand accounts of Ukrainian war crimes are dismissed as biased, while an important Ukrainian victimization narrative, the famine of 1932-33, has relied primarily on just such eyewitness accounts.”
The lying by the promoters of the Galician plan for Ukraine has been promoted by the Canadian mass media, almost without exception. They don’t respond to correction for the truth; click to follow their record.
With the collaboration of her former employer, the Financial Times, Freeland continues to lie by omission and commission, In the past weekend’s “Lunch with the FT”, Freeland was questioned by a reporter called Edward Luce. “I struggle to rustle up some professional scepticism,” he admitted towards the end of listening to Freeland. “I cannot help nodding in agreement.”
Luce also couldn’t help omitting the extent of the story of Freeland and Galicia. Instead, he repeated Freeland’s lie that her mother had been “born to Ukrainian refugees in a US displaced person’s camp in postwar Germany.” In fact, they weren’t refugees from Ukraine. They were Nazi war criminals on the run. The “camp” was a luxury Bavarian spa town, Bad Worishofen, which the US Army had taken over, in part to develop Ukrainian espionage and infiltration agents to run against the Soviet Union. Chomiak was an early recruit, switching his loyalty from the German Army to the US Army for money, and for the same murderous ideology.
The US Army, OSS and CIA files on Chomiak, dating from 1945 to at least 1948, are stored at the National Archives in Washington. No researcher has opened them yet. Recovering the full story of Chomiak started with Ukrainian and Canadian researchers working through Chomiak’s papers in Alberta, and with Polish police investigations in Warsaw; they were opened and reported here.
The Russian contribution to this research and reporting has been negligible. Ditto Consortium News (CN).
In an announcement last week, Joe Lauria, the editor of CN since founder Robert Parry died in 2018, said he had instructed Toronto lawyers to send libel notices to the Canadian signals intelligence agency, Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and to a local broadcaster called Global News. The notices asked for retractions and apologies.
Lauria said CN had been defamed for a publication in February 27, 2017, when Chomiak’s wartime record was reported for the first time. Except it wasn’t for the first time and the original CN article wasn’t quite what it purported to be.
The CSE had produced a secret analysis, Global News reported, on Russian info-war against Freeland. “Cyber influence activity to cause reputational damage” was the technical Canadian spy agency term quoted. “The Grandfather Nazi narrative” was another of the terms. The secret Canadian intelligence was: “In early spring 2017 and spring 2018, sources linked to Russia popularized MFA Freeland’s family history, very likely intended to cause personal reputational damage in order to discredit the Government of Canada’s ongoing diplomatic and military support of Ukraine, to delegitimize Canada’s decision to enact the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Offices Act, and the expulsion of several Russian diplomats.” The Global News report can be read here.
Sources linked to Russia were reportedly tracked down by CSE. “The first attack,” claimed Global News, citing the CSE report, “was a February 2017 report in the ‘online Consortium News’ followed ‘in quick succession’ by pro-Russian English language and Russian-language online media, the CSE report says.”
Lauria charged last week that this was libellous. Aside, he didn’t dispute Parry’s claims at the time that he had been first or that Freeland’s counter-attack with her Russia lie was aimed at Parry and CN. Here is Parry’s original publication, bylined Arina Tsukanova, and tagged “exclusive”.
According to CN’s original publication, Tsukanova “is a Russian Ukrainian journalist from Kiev currently living in Crimea. Before the Euromaidan she used to work for several Ukrainian newspapers, now closed.”
In the English language, Tsukanova’s stories started to appear in mid-2016 and then stopped in April 2017. When her story on the Freeland-Chomiak case appeared in CN, she had reported nothing on the idea, the topic, or the subject details before; there was no sequel or related report by her afterwards.
In the Russian language Tsukanova’s reporting record began on January 18, 2016, and is still current. Her two outlets are the Strategic Culture Foundation (FSK in Russian) and KM.ru, both in Moscow. The reports specialize on Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova. She has reported only once on Freeland and Chomiak. The story which appeared in Russian on March 2, 2017, is not the same story as had appeared under her byline in CN three days earlier. The Russian version of the story has 23 paragraphs. The first 11 paragraphs of the CN story, a third of the publication, weren’t written by Tsukanova and do not appear in the Russian version. They were written by Parry; “I personally edited and fact-checked [it]”, Parry wrote later. It was Parry’s English version which was reprinted by Strategic Culture Foundation on March 2, 2017, and then Parry’s lone bylined story which ran in the same place on March 12, 2017.
“Knowing Bob as I did,” Lauria said last week, “I’m certain he would not have published the article if he knew any of it had been plagiarized. He must have not been aware of your earlier story as I wasn’t as I was preparing my story this week.” Lauria then compared what Tsukanova and Parry had written with two reports I had published five weeks earlier.
Lauria now says: “I carefully went through your two stories and compared it to Consortium News of Feb. 27, 2017. There is no doubt that it is based on your earlier story. That should have been mentioned in the Consortium article. I did not find whole sentences or paragraphs that were taken directly from your article. The fact remains that the story of Freeland’s grandfather is true and that cannot be disputed. I have updated the article I wrote on Tuesday to include this line in the body of the text: The story was first reported by John Helmer a month earlier…In her version, Tuskanova reported; and I put a note at the end of the story saying: This article has been updated to show that the story of Freeland’s grandfather was first reported by John Helmer.”
The revised version of the CN report looks like this. Lauria is making amends.
Parry, who can’t, made a habit of lifting material without giving credit and then promoting himself as the originator. In March 2015, for example, he produced a piece on Igor Kolomoisky, the Ukrainian oligarch; the Burisma scandal involving the Biden family, and Natalie Jaresko, the State Department official who became the Ukrainian minister of finance. Here’s Parry’s story.
This material started with two stories of mine which had appeared a month earlier. Parry helped himself to the topic and the material, but omitted to mention their origin. He also forgot that he had written to me to say: “John, thanks. Good piece.” Here is where Parry started and also here.
As for Parry’s reporting on Jaresko, which appeared on February 19, 2015 — — that started with a story I had published on Jaresko on December 3, 2014. After reworking the material and sources, Parry gave a mention of the origin in my work. He placed that at the 43rd paragraph of his 52-paragraph piece.
Lauria was asked to verify Parry’s source, Tsukanova. He says he wrote Tsukanova by email, but she hasn’t replied. Independently, checks of the Crimea and Kiev media last week reveal that she is not known to the press in either place where she claims to have worked for years. I attempted to contact her at her Facebook page; she did not reply. In the Facebook gallery of her photographs, there are none of Tsukanova on location acting as a journalist.
Left: the header for Arina Tsukanova’s story archive published by the Strategic Culture Foundation; source -- https://www.fondsk.ru/authors/Right: the only photograph of Tsukanova found on the Russian internet. This identifies Tsukanova, not only as journalist, but also as a “publicist”. Source: https://www.infox.ru/blog/168
Arina Tsukanova, according to this Facebook page.
On the evidence gathered to date, Tsukanova is a ghost – a byline invented by her Russian publishers for their purposes, but made to look credible for other purposes. Lauria refused to provide evidence of the original correspondence with Parry, the terms of exclusivity he reported with Tsukanova, or a record of payment for her article in 2017. He concludes: “I’m not anticipating any evidence [of her communication].”
Lauria also says that “not being able to reach her only proves that she’s not reachable… I do not think there is any evidence to say she is a ghost for someone else. It seems pure speculation at this point…In the end of the day, the story is true so does it really matter? A source or a sources’ [sic] motives become irrelevant if the information they provide is true.”
The problem for Lauria and CN is that if Tsukanova was an invention of the Strategic Culture Foundation in 2017 when Parry picked up the Freeland-Chomiak story, and if the Moscow entity was receiving money from Russian state media agencies, then the link between Parry and the Russian side was one which is an embarrassment now for CN in its claims against CSE and Global News.
Tsukanova may be a ghost; the Strategic Culture Foundation is not. It may be suspected in Ottawa of taking money from state organs; in Moscow it is suspected of taking money from the Russian Orthodox Church. But there is no evidence of either. What there is is a record of the foundation’s registration on February 21, 2005, at a room in the Polyanka district of Moscow. The president was listed as Yury Prokofiev; the general director, Vladimir Maksimenko. The “main activity” on the registration forms is “research and development in the field of social sciences and humanities”. Tax inspection is also confirmed, but no details of income or expenditures.
Left, Yury Prokofiev, founding president of the Strategic Culture Foundation in Moscow; right, Vladimir Maksimenko, the general director.
About Prokofiev, now about 81 years of age, there is a detailed history of his evolution from Communist Party apparatchik in 1990-91 to Orthodox Christian monarchist a decade later. The profile, with extensive quotes and references, was published by Valery Lebedev in March 2007; read the Russian here. Lebedev titles his story after the Russian story of the puppeteer Karabas Barabas, the villain in a Russian fairy tale. According to Lebedev’s account, the Strategic Culture Foundation was designed as a platform for the promotion of Russian nationalism. He doesn’t know where Prokofiev got his money to publish.
About Maksimenko, the Russian record indicates that he studied history to doctoral level at MGIMO and was (may still be) an employee of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences. His earlier academic publications were on the Maghreb (Arab North Africa); his later ones on Orthodox monarchism appear here. About both Prokofiev and Maksimenko, Lebedev says they have been shopping from one cause to another for years; he implies they have never managed to draw much money or audience.
Maksimenko does not reply to emails at the contact address given for the Strategic Culture Foundation. The foundation has published only one article by Maksimenko under his byline in English; it is about French politics. There is no article in English by Prokofiev in the archive.
With them Freeland shares the same combination of ethnic nationalism and God – in Freeland’s case, she told the FT, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
“I’m very patriotic,” Freeland told the FT. “’Be good Ukrainians, and by being good Ukrainians, you will be even better Canadians’,” Freeland recounts. ‘I happen to be Ukrainian-Canadian. When I moved to Toronto I had an instant community of Canadian-Ukrainians. There’s a culture there that my kids can immediately experience in Edmonton or Saskatoon…She then embarks on a passionate disquisition about the robustness of Ukraine’s democracy. An aide halts her to say they are late for another meeting a few blocks away.’”
Pricking Freeland’s vanity is a bigger job than the FT can handle; or Parry’s vanity for Lauria. The vanity of the Canadian espionage establishment will be safe in a Toronto court. But pricked the CSE file most certainly it is. That’s because the record of Canadian spying for influence over Russian journalism long precedes this affair.
It started, in fact, with a woman called Janice Cowan, a Canadian of English origin who was the wife of the Canadian military attaché in the Moscow embassy in the early 1990s. Cowan was trained to penetrate Russian media circles and report back to Ottawa. “It was a good time to be a spy”, Cowan wrote in a memoir she published called A Spy’s Wife; it was issued in 2006 by a Toronto publisher called James Lorimer with a grant from the Canadian Government. “Quality Canadian books you’ll want to read” is Lorimer’s motto – except that without cash from Ottawa, Lorimer might have judged that no one would have wanted to read about Cowan’s espionage. In Moscow she took diplomatic immunity from her husband; her spy cover was as an editor at the English language paper, The Moscow Tribune. (The competing English-language paper, The Moscow Times, had Cowan’s counterparts from the CIA.) Cowan’s targets for espionage included the son-in-law of Marshal Georgy Zhukov and me.
In its review of Cowan’s book, the Toronto Globe & Mail said: “Her account of her pre-assignment operational training, and of her various intelligence-gathering tours to Soviet hot spots is convincing. But what threatens to drop this otherwise charming little book into the trivia basket is Cowan’s incurable and self-confessed romanticism about intelligence.”
The files of the Communications Security Establishment must include Cowan’s reports; they remain classified even after she broke cover with her book. They can’t be mentioned now because that would reveal the topmost secret of all – that when it comes to info-war between Russia and Canada, penetration of the media, and what the CSE calls “cyber influence activity to cause reputational damage”, it was the Canadians who started against the Russians first.
It’s been catch-up, tit-for-tat, not to mention plagiarism, ever since.