US vs. Gonzalo Lira

Lambert here: As before, Lira holds dual Chilean-American citizenship. So Yves remarks:

I suggest Lira followers call their Chilean Embassy or Consulate to demand that Lira either be allowed his freedom or transported safely out of Ukraine.

Worth noting that Lira seems to be part of a more general enforcement of “Their Democracy”:

I love it that “glorification” can be a crime in Ukraine. We should do that!

* * *

By Andrew Korybko, a political analyst, journalist and regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. Originally published at Automatic Earth.

Dual American-Chilean national Gonzalo Lira was recently arrested by Ukraine’s secret police on charges pertaining to “wartime propaganda”, for which he faces the possibility of 5-8 years in jail. The US Government’s (USG) silence on this incident completely contrasts with its hysteria over Wall Street Journal (WSJ) employee Evan Gershkovich’s arrest in Russia last month on charges of espionage after he was caught red-handed soliciting classified military-industrial information from a regional lawmaker.

This is a betrayal of American principles since the freedom of speech is regarded as a sacred right of all its citizens no matter where they might be at any given time. Regardless of whatever one might think about Lira’s views and the particular piece of Ukrainian legislation that was cited as the basis for arresting him, the USG is supposed to support the rights of its nationals abroad. This is especially so whenever they’re arrested for expressing an opinion and/or practicing journalism like he was.

Its silence in the face of this scandalous incident suggests a degree of complicity in, or at the very least tacit approval of, Lira’s arrest since nothing else cogently explains the conspicuous lack of any response. These suspicions are further reinforced by the fact that one of the USG’s leading information warfare assets in Ukraine, transgender mercenary Michael John Cirillo, admitted to the Daily Beast that he colluded with the SBU on its case against Lira and even plans to testify against him.

In his exact words, “I’ve already given my sworn statement to SBU about Gonzalo Lira several months ago and expect to be called as a witness in his prosecution.” Cirillo also added on Twitter that “When I’m on Capitol Hill in 10 days, no doubt the arrest of Gonzalo Lira will be a prime topic of conversation.” Instead of seeking his release, the USG is relying on one of its top propagandists in that country to pursue Lira’s conviction, prior to which their proxy brazenly plans to boast about this to Congress.

It should also be noted that Cirillo told this to Julia Davis, who’s banned by Russia on the basis of having worked against its national interests at the behest of hostile powers, which obviously refers to the USG in this context. Her article also mentions that she obtained exclusive footage of Lira’s arrest, which could only have been obtained by the SBU, whose employees shared it with her precisely because they know that she’s one of their patron’s most reliable agents and would thus use it to humiliate Lira in her piece.

These facts lead to the conclusion that the USG is indeed complicit in Ukraine’s arrest of this dual American national. It’s not even hiding its complicity in Lira’s persecution either after one of its leading information warfare assets in that country admitted to colluding with the secret police on this case, told the media that he plans to testify against him, and even plans to brag about this to Congress. The USG is perversely proud of this since it hopes to pressure critics of its proxy war into self-censoring.

This objective also clearly includes its own citizens like Lira, who the USG hates with a passion since his brave reporting from Kharkov discredited many of their claims about this conflict. It could have simply requested that Kiev deport him in order to lessen the damage that he’s inflicted on their information warfare operations, but it preferred to make an example out of him by pursuing his prosecution. Cirillo’s role in this incident and his plans to brag about it to Congress leave no doubt about the USG’ complicity.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. The Rev Kev

    It is not really a surprise that Michael John Cirillo is talking to the Daily Beast. This was the same publication that Gonzalo Lira accused of trying to get him killed about a year ago by locating him in the Ukraine so that they could find him. Their headline a day ago was ” ‘Red Pill’ Dating Coach Gonzalo Lira, Accused of Shilling for Putin, Is Arrested in Ukraine” so they still have a grudge against him. Michael John Cirillo has transitioned to “Sarah” and is now serving with the Ukrainian Army. She put out a video a day or so ago where she went on a tear about him and anybody else in the whole world that did not support the Ukraine. I’m sure that the Democrats on Capital Hill are going to love her because she ticks a few of the right boxes. I also saw a video where she was calling Russians ‘animals’ and ‘subhumans’ so it seems that she has picked up some of the ideology of her hosts. But if the US is helping to get him imprisoned or worse in the Ukraine, it is all part of the rules-based order. Julian Assange can tell you how that works out as well as those European journalists like Alina Lipp reporting on this war who face charges and imprisonment if they go back to their home countries.

    1. OIFVet

      That thing, Cirillo, is not a “she,” it’s an it. And not because it is a transgender, but because it lacks the basic attributes that make us human.

    2. JonnyJames

      I don’t know why Lira was still in Ukraine after what has happened. They (The Ukrainian SBU Gestapo) could simply kill him with impunity. The guy is either very brave, or a bit nutty. Both?

      1. James

        Lira has been under house arrest! The Ukrainian government was refusing to let him leave.

      2. Simon

        I was alarmed when Lira came back from being arrested and having his social media accounts taken away, and began broadcasting under new accounts and not changing the types of things he said. I feared for his well being for a while but eventually forgot about it. But now it again hits me – why go back to doing the same thing that got you arrested in a country that continues to get more and more totalitarian and has a NATO hosted website where they list people they want to kill who have in some way disparaged Ukraine. And who assassinates people in Russia who support the war in print or video.

        At least Lira got his wife and son out of Ukraine.

  2. OIFVet

    The hypocrisy of the US government is beyond contempt at this point. I don’t even like Gonzalo Lira yet here I am being forced to take his side. America and the world deserve better.

    1. Carolinian

      But it’s been in that far beyond place for so long. How do you measure?

      In the latest Taibbi/Kirn they talk about how the US public has become passive and resigned and that’s right and I include myself since what really can we tiny ants in the anthill do about any of this? Their topic was how even Fox has been neutered to the extent that it was supplying pushback via Carlson. TPTB are going to simply ignore the public as in France and make sure small media dissent is as invisible as possible.

      Maybe things are just in a lull right now and next year’s election will bring out more debate. But at the moment not just the news business but the news is attenuating.

      1. Joe Well

        Passive/resigned or just so disgusted they expect no better and are so overwhelmed they don’t know what to do? And every avenue for protest is co-opted by careerists for the two party system.

      2. NarrativeMassagerInc

        All hell’s going to break loose in the next year. With Biden and his Ukraine horrorshow floundering, the banks teetering, Trump running and now RFK Jr rising significantly in the polls v Biden, the establishment will lose their minds completely (how far that is from where they are now I will leave up to you). This all reminds me of a quote from the Lord of the Rings:

        “The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true.”

        I try to maintain hope. Hope that the American people will wake up in time to save us from the all-too-obvious totalitarian nightmare descending upon us. If the people can’t be roused to defend our most sacred values of free speech and inquiry, perhaps they don’t deserve them. Perhaps those of us who consider ourselves roused are not roused enough.

        1. some guy

          Roused means nothing if not informed.

          I am reminded of the Parable of the Elephant and the Moles and Gophers.

          You can bring a ten ton elephant to the Washington Monument and have it push on the Washington Monument till forever and it will never fall over.

          Or you can bring ten tons of moles and gophers to the Washington Monument and have them dig all the soil out from under one side of it. Give them long enough to do enough digging, and eventually the Washington Monument will fall over.

          ( Or you can bring ten tons of demonstrators to the Washington Monument to march around it and wave their little signs at it as they scream their squeaky little screams. It won’t respond to them. It can’t hear them. It don’t gots no ears, you dig?)

          So the “sufficiently roused” should study the situation and decide what actual approaches to actually take to start undermining and collapsing vulnerable parts of the Black Hat Bad Actor Systems.

          1. Sadiethecat

            “So the “sufficiently roused” should study the situation and decide what actual approaches to actually take” to take down the bad actors running our country (my paraphrase), since other forms of resistance no longer work.

            Hit the TPTB in their pocketbooks. The public rapidly took down Budweiser big-time by not buying their beer. Big companies have 2 masters: (1) the govt they feed with campaign funding to keep the goody-train going, and (2) us, their consumers, revenue source.

        2. B Flat

          Apparently the military are having trouble signing up new recruits. If a draft is reinstated heads will spin how fast Americans wake up…

      3. spud

        because of free trade, the oligarchs and the monopolistic companies they control, have a global reach. companies can now charge what ever the market will bear, child labor, prison labor, forced labor, soon to be enacted slave labor, its a natural thing, get over it.

        of course we are ignored! you would think the french would be screaming for the exits of the E.U., but also the W.T.O., someday someone else besides me and a few others will figure this out.

        the BRICS have figured it out.

      4. OIFVet

        It is a tough quandary, and not only in the US but in the entire so-called “civilized world.” For me personally, the [possible] answer lies in refusing to participate in the sham voting and in widespread peaceful non-compliance. These will deny the corrupt status quo the veneer of democratic legitimacy it craves and needs in order to continue to represent the elites while claiming to represent all of us.

  3. Jon

    I think this is a great reason why we should be extremely distrustful of these deluded men/’women’/whatever. The obvious duplicity in this guy Cirillo’s behavior is a shield or diversionary tactic in regards to this shameful attack on Lira. Let’s fight back against this (as well as his sex deviancy) by following Lambert’s lead and loudly speaking the truth: it’s a man!

    1. Joe Well

      This comment does not represent the vast majority of the NC commentators and I assume is allowed only out of a strong commitment to free speech.

      1. Paris

        Isn’t free speech reason enough? And what do you mean by representation? Only people who agree with the majority here can opine? Funny.

        1. tevhatch

          So I can come onto your property, into your home and opine to my hearts desire? Thanks, but no thanks. There’s a soap box in the public square, for now. If people keep using it instead of going into other’s private property then it might still be there tomorrow.

      2. lb

        I’m finding this sort of open transphobic language on the site to be pretty off-putting, as a reader who’s been here since the start. I like reading heterodox opinions and analysis, but I also respect a person’s right to self-determination. I’ve recently read that tribal Democrats increasingly secretly wish ill upon their political opponents — the sort of thing that runs against basic human decency. I’d like to think that the authors and commenters on this site generally agree on that sort of decency, including letting someone’s personal attributes be off-limits for criticism. Transpeople have existed in societies the world around for centuries, and it’s only now that it’s become a political football that nasty rhetoric against such people seems to have commonly come out of the woodworks.

        In other words, what’s it to you? Attack the war rhetoric, not the person’s presentation or identity, please.

        1. Cetra Ess

          Agree, not sure what trans has anything to do with anything, am quite puzzled by the references. Sex/sexuality/gender is never deviant or deviancy.

          Having said that – I fear for Cirillo’s life. Ukraine is a country where Pride was banned until recently and even in the last few years has needed very heavy police protection to the tune of 1500 police to protect 50 Pride marchers. I’m hoping she’s embedded with a unit comprised of non-Ukrainians or I don’t see that ending well.

        2. Rip Van Winkle

          I went down a rabbit hole on the recent beer ad controversy.

          Light Beer by Miller was originally the old Chicago area brand Meister Brau Beer. Then Miller engaged McCann Erickson ad agency who came up with the iconic Tastes Great! – Less Filling! celebrity theme. Three decades later, one of the last versions had two scantily clad bikini babes mud wrestling over which.

          Then I came across an ad for the old Blatz Beer brand about ~ 70 years ago – featuring a testimonial by the one and only Liberace – “I should know – I’m from Milwaukee!” Actually was from a very blue collar West Allis, famous for heavy equipment and machinery. Thousands of good paying jobs around there at the time.

          Not the same country.

        3. some guy

          I suspect tribal Democrats wish ill on their enemies because they see themselves as having zero power to inflict any actual ill upon those enemies . . . even as those enemies openly plot, plan and agitate to inflict ill upon tribal Democrats.

          So the tribal Democrats’ wishes of ill upon their enemies are their helpless prayers and beseechments to some sort of Sky God of Politics ( the “Moral Arc of the Universe” or the “Laws of History” or the “March of Progress” or however that Political Sky God is to be described) to deliver them from the hands of their enemies and to visit judgement upon them.

          If they were to bestir themselves to plot and plan against their Republican/Conservative enemies in the real world the way their Republican/Conservative enemies plot and plan against them ( or the people they “support” – such as gay people, transpeople, women needing an abortion, etc.), they might feel less motivation to settle for secretly wishing.

          More overt defense/offense and less imprecatory prayers and wishes might make tribal Democrats feel and function better.

        4. Sadiethecat

          Right! “Attack the war rhetoric, not the person’s presentation or identity, please.” Who cares about his pronouns. We have much bigger things at stake.

      3. B Flat

        I’ve been a faithful reader since 2009, participate in fundraisers too, and think there are major issues with current trans advocacy. I say that as a former ally. As one might expect of an economic blog, NC’s core readership is diverse.

    2. Janeway

      The transgender racket is part and parcel of the remaking of society into what the Davos crowd wants – control. Just like in 1984, if you can get the masses to believe obvious lies and propaganda, you have complete control to do whatever you want.

      1. Jon

        I can hardly scroll through the internet or flip the channel without seeing one of these degenerate freaks, I bet I’ll start seeing them in public on the streets any day now. I applaud NC for shining the light on this menace. Before we can do anything more to stop them, we can at least proclaim that these emperors are, if not naked, wearing clothing worthy of ridicule. The least we can do is call them by their god-given names. Gonzalo Lira is the victim now. Who will be next?

        1. Yves Smith

          No more attacks on trans people or your comments will not be allowed. Other readers, please note that if a comment does not hit a trip wire, it is not moderated and appears. so the mods didn’t see these in the mod queue.

          There is a big difference between supporting trans people (I had a trans friend in Oz who in her early 50s went to Thailand to have pretty radical surgery, which she called “the chop”) versus having serious reservations about an industry that profits from encouraging teens that have doubts about their sexual identity into taking drugs that have radical long-term consequences, including loss of fertility, and getting surgery. I am told gays and lesbians are particularly concerned because many went through similar gender questioning before concluding they were attracted to the same sex.

          1. Jon

            I agree I’m being a tad vitriolic. But I think I’m being just a tad more honest than you. You imply that many gay and lesbian people could be falsely being led to getting “the chop” (whether up top or down low). If that’s the case, I would imagine having the courage of your convictions would lead you be a little more frank with your views.

            1. tevhatch

              It (surely you’re an it), that’s not what she wrote by a long shot. Quit getting your debating skill from watching FauxNews.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              Read Yves’s response again, because today was her day to be kind. “Degenerate freak” is not “a tad vitriolic,” any more than “n*gger” or “k*ke” are “frank” or “courageous” and in any case vitriol should be reserved for those with real power.

              Your non-apology apology is not accepted. Straighten up and fly right or GTFO.

            3. Yves Smith

              Straw manning me and Making Shit Up (your wildly off base attack on trams people) are violations of house rules. I had not gotten around to moderating or banning you but now it is required immediately. You are no longer welcome here.

        2. Offtrail

          I know a couple of transgender persons. They are hardly “degenerate freaks”. This kind of ugly generalization feels very out of place here.

    3. square coats

      Hmm let’s see… Anthony Blinken is cis gender, Jake Sullivan is cis gender, Bill Gates is cis gender, George Soros is cis gender… guess I should take that as a “great reason” to be extremely distrustful of all cis gender people!

      Just kidding. I’d caution you that you’re statistically misleading yourself.

    4. Darius

      I doubt you’ll get too many takers here for a campaign against sex deviancy. Let freedom ring and all. Also, culture war is a dead end. Which is why TPTB try to distract the likes of us with it.

  4. Rip Van Winkle

    Someone said something about ‘the intel agencies have six ways to Sunday to get you”.

  5. ambrit

    As I commented on another thread several days ago, the Ukraine seems to be the Beta Testing Zone for the “new and improved” Neo-liberal social control methods.
    I fully expect what is done in the Ukraine by the West’s proxies to “come home” and be used by Homeland Security against American ‘dissidents.’ American “assets” are already involved. What will American “assets” in the Ukraine do when they have to flee that benighted country and come home? They do have a particular set of social control skills. As ‘Georgie’ in “A Clockwork Orange” tells Alex later in the film, (he and another of the Droogs have become policemen,) “A job for two who are now of job age.”
    We have been warned. Time to get those parallel institutions up and running.

    1. Mikel

      “As I commented on another thread several days ago, the Ukraine seems to be the Beta Testing Zone for the “new and improved” Neo-liberal social control methods…”

      The most concerning aspect of the test: the systematic destruction that has to occur first.

    2. midtownwageslave

      Community funded news outfits? GoFundMe but for independent think tanks and news rooms seems like our last hope.

      As we descend further into the abyss, it would be nice to have an altimeter.

      1. rob

        along that line,
        there HAS to be some sort of “truth and reconciliation” commission, or some such.

        the simple fact that people can’t even BEGIN to come to terms with what other people see as fact or non-fact… how easily we are all led astray, when we see different realities.
        just like the old story of the tower of babel… we may as well be speaking different languages, so we can never garner the strength, and coordination; to talk to god.

    3. BeliTsari

      Hardly seems new or ANY surprise, at all; as the whole panoply of company tricks is used over & over, by ever more senile neocon hammer-heads; their PMC/Creative Class™ & boomer yuppie hordes, sneeringly brainwashed as to what absolutely INSANE lies they buy-into (LBJ joking about Tonkin Gulf & Warren Report?) Tinkerbell demands unquestioned allegiance. If theie 9.9% petit-bourgouis cheering section kvetches about poor quality sturgeon row at Brunch or their Audi, BMW or Porsche EV being delayed by Putin or Tesla & iPhone 14, by dying sero-naive Chinese chilluns; it’s now only a fraction who’ll make it to Galt’s Gulch. That everything we believe has always been absolute horseshit, is hämisch to our betters. MiniTru’s looking at YOU with your selfie-cam, duh?

    4. britzklieg

      “I fully expect what is done in the Ukraine by the West’s proxies to “come home” and be used by Homeland Security against American ‘dissidents.”

      oops, too late: Omali Yeshitela, 81… “they” finally got him, having been after him since forever. And

      Another notch on the belt for the Clinton DNC’s “Russia, Russia, Russia!” charade.


    5. Robert Gray


      > As ‘Georgie’ in “A Clockwork Orange” tells Alex later in the film
      > (he and another of the Droogs have become policemen,) …

      Right. And the other one …

      “And don’t call me ‘Dim’ no more. ‘Officer’, call me.”


  6. cousinAdam

    What was it that Pogo said? (rip Walt Kelly)
    “We have met the enemy…. and it is Us!!”

  7. Daniil Adamov

    Glorification of something or other is a crime in a lot of places, IIRC. Britain, France and Spain persecute the “glorification of terrorism”, the Baltic States “glorification of the Soviet Union” and “glorification of Russian war crimes”, Germans “glorification of Nazism”… I don’t think we have this exact formula in Russia, but we do have “justification of terrorism” and many similar concepts, which I’d argue are little better. In all cases, the idea is the same: it is a very vague but spooky charge that lets you punish people arbitrarily for their incautious speech. Obviously, any truly modern government loves that.

    By way of an interesting contrast, the Russian Empire in the 19th century did not have such laws. Many people (Zasulich’s lawyer Aleksandrov, for instance) got away with praising terrorists and terrorism in a way that would inconceivable in 21st century Russia or France. The Empire apparatus was displeased, but was not sufficiently modern and sophisticated to realise that it could punish someone on those grounds. States have advanced/declined in that respect since then.

    1. hk

      I have a hunch that criminalizing “glorification of heterodoxy” is a largely Western (that is countries with Western Christian (ie Catholic and Protestant) traditions and their reactions to heresy. While suppression of heterodoxies were common throughout the world, suppression of heresy in the West was basically targeted at the wrongbelief/wrong think, while elsewhere, it tended to be against organizations that refused to submit to the control of “state” apparatus, necessarily under the control of the dominant social group.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aye, the post-Schism Catholic(“universal”=Hubris, no?) Church settled on Orthodoxy, and punished Orthopraxy, because practitioners thereof made the gilded priesthood look bad(how many helpers does the carpeted pope need to wash the feet of just one poor person per year?)
        Orthopraxy is right there for anyone to see(Right Action)…Orthodoxy(Right Belief) is impossible to prove and ends up in crusades and inquisitions.
        Luther and Calvin(ugh) and their numerous offspring descend from the latter.
        hence, its no wonder we have recurring rounds of persecution that echo so closely the burnings and pogroms and invasions of old.
        the most recent and ongoing version…this Woke BS…is supposedly about “representation”…at a time when i’ve never felt less represented,lol.
        of course, what its really about is Power and its maintenence…especially during this unprecedented crisis of legitimacy.
        they’ll force the dog food down the dogs’ throats, a la foi gras…for their own good.

        ive been perusing the “Post Liberals” this morning(pain day…after pain week…pulled big muscle in back last tuesday)…and the usage of “The Left” still bothers the hell out of me. if those guys could allow and align with agnostics and druids and actual lefties and whatnot, i’d be right there with them.
        but they’re in their bones all about a former version of the totalising vision.
        i’d rather secede from the whole mess…on moral grounds, no less.

    2. AndrewJ

      Daniil – if you’ve got the time and interest, how do you feel about press freedoms in Russia? As an American, I don’t have any sources I can trust to tell me the ground truth.
      As an American, I also feel our press freedom is that you can yell whatever you like into a hole in the ground. Everything beyond that is captured by a frankly impressive system of social and algorithmic control.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i’d like such granular anecdata, myself.
        do china next.
        then Cuba….(for me…i’ve never met a Cuban immigrant who wasn’t descended from Batista’s people).

        i mean, i can tote around all the comparative economic and demographic charts in my fone, and all…but folks’ eyes glaze over….and they revert to the rut of “Amuka id da bestest”.

      2. Daniil Adamov

        It’s a complex topic and I am far from an expert. I can tell you that, as usual, the truth is somewhere in between the “black legend” (“there is no free press in Russia, it is all state-controlled or censored to the point of uselessness”) and the “white legend” (“any restrictions on the press are American propaganda”).

        The press exists and shows a fair amount of ideological and political diversity and independence. There are many prominent outlets with very different outlooks (communists, communist-adjacent leftist patriots, conservative loyalists, different types of liberals…). Those outlooks and associated criticisms against the government may sometimes be softened or veiled, but still come through clearly enough. There are quite a few things one is legally forbidden to write, at risk of penalties (“justification of terrorism” is one such taboo, and there was a case in which a journalist was heavily fined for, as far as I can tell, trying to explore why some people resort to terrorism). There is a fair amount of extra-legal harrassment as well. Note again that those difficulties did not prevent oppositional journalists from expressing extremely critical views or investigating very embarrassing issues, though it certainly made it much more difficult and less appealing. It is still completley different from the situation in pre-Glasnost’ USSR, though, where this degree of permitted oppositonal activity would have been inconceivable.

        After the SMO started, already limited press freedoms contracted. A few days after it started, there were new laws that essentially prohibited the spreading of “fake information” about the SMO. What is and is not fake is determined by the government. This had an immediate chilling effect. Opposition outlets that reported extensively from the frontlines, and obviously deviated from the government line, came under heavy pressure. Some of them soon stopped reporting about the war entirely. Most famously, this was done by Novaya Gazeta, the most prominent liberal opposition paper; later in the year, it partly relocated to the Baltic States (as did many other liberal groups) and had its media license revoked in Russia. Other vaguely anti-war outlets ended up treading very carefully and mainly repeating official statements (both our government’s and from other countries, including Ukraine and its “friends”); they still often had some very interesting and unflattering information about conditions on the home front, which is not as tightly controlled. Many individual journalists (as well as quite a few others) were arrested for violating the new laws. I would not call this situation particularly good as far as press freedom goes, but it is certainly not total control.

        It is also worth noting that the vast majority of foreign news sites are accessible without a VPN. And nearly everyone who uses the Internet does have VPN for the few (usually Russian-language, emigre) sites that do. I have had a few problems with VPN access, now and then, but this was pretty haphazard. So anyone who cares to know about other versions of events can find them very easily. And this is without getting into social media or Telegram, which is where many lcoal Internet users seem to get their information these days.

        Overall, it seems to me that the American approach to press freedom produces fewer unjust and arbitrary arrests (with notable exceptions such as Assange, but they could hardly do that to everyone) while also being much more effective at preventing the spread of undesirable opinions (from the perspective of the elite of course). Here we have many (IMHO) unnecessary and counterproductive restrictions that do not have that much influence on the public (since people just tend to believe whoever they are inclined to believe and can access ideologically-correct sources easily), but do seriously hinder journalists and press organisations. I think the last one is a shame, since despite my own political and ideological disagreements with them (many were, after all, uncritically pro-Western liberals), they did more good than harm when allowed to operate in comparatively greater freedom. That said, most of them seem to have found some way to survive, whether at home (by treading a bit more carefully and offering more veiled criticisms on taboo topics) or abroad (as largely-online emigre press). All that is just my impression though; I could definitely be getting something wrong.

      3. amans021

        Gilbert Doctorow often reports on the state of Russian freedom of the press on his substack blog. Lots of interesting insights into the issues Russians vigorously discuss on various talk shows and elsewhere.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          There is indeed vigourous debate, but the field is artificially constrained. Basically you can get away with a lot more criticism and disagreement if you are pro-war; if you are anti-war, as is the case for a fairly large and once-vocal minority, you can also express it in various ways, but must tread more carefully when it comes to public media. I’m not that familiar with our talk shows but from what little I have seen of them, they seem to cleave overwhelmingly pro-war despite many significant disagreements on the details.

          (I wrote a more detailed response to AndrewJ above earlier, but that appears to have hit a tripwire. Hopefully it will appear later? Not really sure what caught it.)

      4. James

        When I was visiting friends in Moscow they had CNN in their basic cable package. Does everyone in USA have a Russian news channel as part of their basic cable package that they cannot opt out of?

        And my thanks to Daniil for his well informed answer.

      1. anon in so cal,Russia%20Studies%20Center%20at%20the%20Henry%20Jackson%20Society.

  8. Susan the other

    Interesting that Lira is arrested just when “Ukraine” claims to have perfected an AI virtual government. Lira is tech savvy and he could likely expose the whole thing as mind control bullshit. If there is a preemptive nature to his arrest it would be an indication that the US/UKR war is not going to succeed and they are buying time at best. I can’t imagine what AI tech the US is trying to leave behind as it evacuates. Maybe just a way to jam up and prevent Europe from doing business with China and Russia. Who knows?

  9. A guy in Washington DC

    The world is filled with sad, eccentric and often very intelligent people who move from place-to-place, cause-to-cause, profession-to-profession seeking meaning for their lives and public soapboxes from which to scream “I exist” I matter!” They often provide useful information. These are the “graffiti artists” and the compulsively violent demonstrators for causes ranging from “Black lives matter” to Stop the steal”. I sometimes agree with their causes, but they are all troubled people seeking a purpose and publicity.

    Gonzalo Lira is one of a long line of people who claim American citizenship, travel to dangerous places get in trouble then demand “Help Me! I’m an American” (or a Chilean). Michael John Cirillo, Lira’s trans opponent, is simply the anti-Lira.

    New York is filled with these people. Take a look at poor Jordan Neely, arrested 40 times, clearly unbalanced and with a warrant out on him for attacking a 67 year old woman. I don’t believe there is any treatment, any amount of drugs or out-patient care, that would have made Neely safe to roam the streets. The choices are to leave him to his fate or take him off the streets, and with deinstitutionalization the latter is not possible in the US. So he gets on a subway car, gets in the face of the trapped riders, screams at them, throws garbage at them… and two male passengers, one white and one apparently black, try to restrain him:

    It gets worse. Here is the usual NYC YouTube star/street goon/Howard Stern show contributor, Joey Boots, in 2012 responding to Neely’s Michael Jackson routine and giving him a bit of street theater torment in return Medieval bear bear baiting on the streets of New York. The tormentor, Joey Boots died four years later of a heroin overdose. Insanity and sadness come in many forms.

    The press makes these freaks stars. And we go along for the ride, enjoying the show. If we allow ourselves to be entertained by the Barnum & Bailey freak show of bearded ladies and 30” tall dwarfs and allow them to become the face of our public policy debates, who is responsible, The New York Times, YouTube, the Barnum & Bailey circus …. Or us?

    1. Yves Smith

      This is ad hom and false. Lira is an American citizen. He’s a dual citizen raised in Chile and LA. Went to Dartmouth. He has no history of mental illness, merely often displays pretty hard core libertarian views.

      All you’ve done is try to smear him by associating him with people which have NOTHING TO DO with him. He’s never gotten into public altercations or gotten into people’s faces in public.

      Lira broke or reported on actual stories so your comment is a mischaracterization. He broke the story that James Vasquez was posting fake videos of combat scenes in Ukraine and raising millions off them. The New York Times nearly a year later confirmed Lira’s take without crediting him.

      Lira may be a bit narcissistic but that’s hardly unusual among commentators and is pervasive among elected officials, so that is hardly an obstacle to being a supposedly upstanding member of society.

    2. tevhatch

      Excuse me, but can you supply a text or video where after this arrest Lira made the statement or near equivalent of: “Help Me! I’m an American” (or a Chilean).”?

      I only know of others making a proactive attempt to help made by guessing/empathy/intimating that this is what Lira would want. I hope you can help provide that source. If memory serves me correctly, he even got into a spat with Scott Ritter, who was overly enthusiastic about calling for condemnation of the Ukraine government during his first disappearance/detention.

      1. Thomas Taylor

        Lira was ticked off with Ritter saying he was dead. Other than that it just looks like they occupy the same basic space. Except that Lira is more intellectual, apparently, while Ritter just keeps repeating the same tired old lines

  10. Rip Van Winkle

    About a month ago Gonzalo had a Roundtable with Pepe Escobar.

    About 20 years ago Pepe coined the term Pipelineistan for the entire region which includes Ukraine. Never ending geopolitical / resource wars.


  11. Stephen

    If you are losing a war then going after easy targets such as Gonzalo Lira gives you a “win”.

    Let’s face it, the whole modus operandi of the Multipolar Moment has been to create shock and awe against soft targets. This is just another manifestation of that.

    Unfortunately, for the Empire: Russia, China and increasingly the Global South are not soft targets any more. I think we will see more attacks by the Empire on individuals before things get resolved. It is an easy way to wield power in a world where true power is in free fall. The Arab League just readmitted Syria and the US seems able just to huff and puff its displeasure. I almost feel sorry for the Washington elite. They are becoming increasingly irrelevant. A confident as opposed to a dying empire would, for example, not bother pursuing Julian Assange. They are wielding power where they can nowadays and scraping the barrel on the targets they pursue.

  12. James

    Only on Naked Capitalism do I find out that Lira is a US citizen! Thank you, Yves.

  13. Cine Tee

    The content and the commentary on this site are truly amazing. I’m torn between telling people about it, because everyone should have access to this kind of perspective with depth and breadth, or not telling anyone so it doesn’t get diluted.

    Anyway, Gonzalo’s arrest is frustrating and worrisome. My take is that they won’t let him be killed in prison. Chances are this Ukrainian government can’t make it till the US election. Either Gonzalo gets deported soon, or gets “liberated” by the Russians within about a year. Scott Ritter should meet him at the airport to welcome him back.

  14. gonzalo lira

    GONZALO LIRA HAS BEEN DETAINED BY THE SBU ON MAY 1st. He cannot be called a traitor, he has dual citizenship from Chile and born in the United States of America. HAS NEVER CONTACTED ANY RUSSIAN OFFICIAL OR ARMED FORCE INDIVIDUAL. THIS IS A FRAGRANT ABUSE OF THE ZELENSKI REGIME.
    Gonzalo, since the beginning of the war, has been
    telling his almost 300,000 internet followers HIS TRUTH AS HE SEES IT, RIGHT OR WRONG. HE HAS THE RIGHT OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
    Let us not forget that UKRAINE has been accused of human rights violations by AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS STATED: “The international armed conflict has led to a wide range of human rights violations affecting both civilians and combatants”, the executive summary states, adding that the Office has “verified numerous allegations of arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, torture and death”.
    Thank you for reading my message. I am Gonzalo,s father and I am asking you to put pressure for his release.
    Thank you.

    1. paul

      So beautifully written, so starkly very truthful indeed. And yet in spite of all its gross violations and massive human rights abuses the Ukraine regime under Zelensky and his henchmen are paraded around with hugs and kisses for the monster Zelensky by the USA, EU UK and this is noted with utter shock, and dismay and disgust all around the entire world. The world cannot believe these western nations are deliberately turning a blind eye to it all and this is seen now in millions of very wealthy investors quickly turning away from those nations, demonstrative they don’t care a damn about human rights of a foreign American Hollywood film maker, American peace campaigner found in Gonzalo. Everything the Zelensky regime had done in rounding up hundreds of thousands of its own citizens, mostly young children and the elderly had been ignored by those western nations and their leaders. They had embraced fascism and their own nations had lost all credibility on the world stage. MR LIRA is an outstanding, very thoughtful famous individual and the American people are going to make Joseph Biden pay very heavily at the ballot box for his egregious crimes against an AMERICAN CITIZEN. If any harm comes to him, like poisoning or tampering with his food, that’s if Gonzalo’s not already gone on hunger strike because he’s a very devout peace campaigner, the entire US political system will come crashing down and all those who were spitefully behind calling for this to happen to Gonzalo they will not show their faces ever in public again. Mr Lira has a lot of very close friends in very high places all across America and around the world and they will be damn furious about Biden having him arrested and no doubt he’s been tortured and abused by the secret police of Zelensky because he had said some very hard truths about the corruption of the Zelensky regime and how its all tied in to the Biden regime family. Burns, the head of the CIA, he must immediately step in and get Mr Lira out’ve this mess created by very cruel and very spiteful evil people, otherwise if he doesn’t then it’s not going to do anything for his own credibility. Many hundreds of thousands of civilians who were rounded up are ethnically Russian, Hungarians, Romanians, and they’re going to be so angry about why the western nations kept it all quiet and brushed it under the carpet. All across America proper Human Rights Groups, Journalists who really do care are going to investigate this and they will personally hold to all accounts all the individuals in the US and beyond if a hair on his head is harmed, a scratch anywhere on his body or face. What’s so revealing is how the US state department collaborated with the repressive Zelensky regime in using Americans to go after him in Ukraine, giving details to the secret police to hound and arrest him at gunpoint. Everyone could see how frightened, terrified Mr Lira looked when they pointed a machine gun at his head and this has gone all around the world and all over America and the American’s are furious about it. Ron Paul will be devastated.

    2. paul

      Mr Lira. Please try to be calm and please don’t worry too much about your son, Gonzalo, he has a lot more than 300,000 followers around the world. Let me tell you sir, he hasn’t got millions of followers, Gonzalo’s got billions of followers all over the whole world and each and everyday that the repressive regime unlawfully detains him its getting a lot more coverage all around the world and most particularly in the United States of America. Everyday i for one will continue to post comments far and wide and its already picked up traction. It’s thus very clear all around the world and in the USA there’s very dark hands at play in trying to silence your son Gonzalo and millions of decent likeminded peace loving people are beginning to ask why the US State Department had done absolutely nothing to speak out and demand the immediate release and protection of their American citizen Gonzalo and this is not helping the State Department or more importantly the Biden regime which was clearly complicit in his detention and persecution and this will be reflected by many decent kind, honest and caring US journalists like JIMMY DORE and others who will soon, I’m sure be picking up on this case together with MAX BLUMENTHAL ARRON MÀTE at the GRAYZONE. If you hadn’t already contacted them then please send a reminder because they will cover it. The UN will equally be very concerned for his wellbeing and his welfare and his health. The Duran, Larry Johnson, Judge Andrew Nepolitano, (JUDGING FREEDOM) are all good avenues for going down to get this into the US Media online. Please link up with JULIAN ASSANGE’S father, JOHN SHIPMAN and JOHN PILGER and ROGER WATERS from PINK FLOYD. They are very powerful voices and they will get Gonzalo’s case out into the stratisfere media. Gonzalo is a dual in the crown of honest Independent journalist and media. JOURNALISTS WITHOUT BORDERS another contact. Even the soft left media, DEMOCRACY NOW, is useful. Shall keep in touch God bless you, God bless Gonzalo, he’s always in our prayers, we’re all Gonzalo Lira’s in our billions.

  15. noglobalhomo

    “She” needs an in the (combat) field gender reassignment surgery. Good thing since Chechnyans have already replaced Wagner in Bahkmut.

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