Gonzalo Lira is alive, as the videos embedded below and a fresh 25-entry tweetstorm attest. However, he has a very ugly story to report. He was detained and repeatedly tortured by prisoners at the behest of guards, so as to create official deniability.
He was allowed to go free by virtue of paying $70,000 in bribes (after having $9,000 of “emergency cash” stolen) plus $11,000 in bail to be set loose before an August 2 trial date, where he was told his conviction was a certainty, despite the prosecution effectively admitting in its own filings that Gonzalo’s only crime was running afoul of Ukraine’s extreme restrictions on free speech. The anticipated sentence was 5 to 8 years in a labor camp. Gonzalo was not given access to an attorney despite claims otherwise.
And predictably, the State Department was no help, due not just to Gonzalo’s critical reporting on the US role in the conflict and outing some Western propaganda, but no doubt more specifically to his video on Russia-hater-in-chief Victoria Nuland, who was just promoted to number two at State. Representatives of the US Embassy did visit him three times, but offered, as Gonzalo put it, only bromides. But apparently there was enough noise made, particularly by the Chilean government, about Gonzalo not being allowed to post bail, so State apparently did eventually clear its throat about that.
The one bit of good news is Gonzalo is fleeing coop and that is apparently what the authorities want. He was told while incarcerated that he was supposed to leave Ukraine after the late time he was detained (but not roughed up then) and didn’t understand the message:
Later at the SBU offices, they >returned other documents< they'd confiscated—my driver's license and my motorcycle registration.
In Sizo, I told an inmate how last year I'd been detained, released, but told not to leave Ukraine. He laughed. “They were telling you to leave!”
— Gonzalo Lira (@GonzaloLira1968) July 31, 2023
Gonzalo said he is going to Hungary to seek asylum. I would not be so open about my plans unless there were well settled procedures at border checks for asylum seekers… and I would not be confident of Ukraine compliance. Perhaps this announcement is a smokescreen.
Needless to say, the US failure to intervene is yet more evidence this country no longer operates by the rule of law (American citizens are entitled to support of their embassies when abroad), particularly when we have bought and paid for the Ukraine government and are able to tell them what to do.
Gonzalo Lira’s status report is getting traction outside the Twitterverse:
Pro-Russian blogger Gonzalo Lira detained in Kharkiv The New Voice of Ukraine but just reposted on Yahoo, which suggests it will get around
And the videos:
Please circulate widely. More exposure is Gonzalo’s best protection at this point.
I don’t want to sound a sour note, but Gonzalo has repeatedly said the measure of a life is the distance between the highs and the lows. This is an awfully low low, so let’s hope a successful escape validates a positive take on his world view.