Berlin Phantom Newspaper in the campaign against Tymoshenko
The Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service writes that the Ukrainian media have over recent days been quoting the "Berliner Tageszeitung - Berliner Tageblatt" which published a report with criticism of imprisoned former Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. The problem is that the said newspaper does not exist.
The phantom newspaper with its quite specific attack was first quoted by the State-owned information agency UKRINFORM and then taken up by a lot of other media sources. The original of the article, posted at berlinertageszeitung.de, claims that the German Chancellor’s office is already asking why they should support Tymoshenko.
DW decided to speak with the German publication and found this an insurmountable problem. There was no telephone for the editorial office in the information about the newspaper which, they point out, is already strange. There was a long list of names with emails of people supposedly responsible for different sections of the newspaper. None of the email addresses worked. The only address for this purported Berlin newspaper was for some reason in Dallas, Texas while the only phone number on the website was a UK number which was anyway linked to an answer machine.
There once was a liberal newspaper called "Berliner Tageszeitung - Berliner Tageblatt» - until it was closed down by the Nazis in 1939. A corresponding trademark was registered by a Rosemary Olits in 2006. Through open sources they found the phone number of this woman outside Berlin and phoned. The conversation was very brief. “I don’t want to talk with you and will not”. She could not or didn’t want to explain why there was neither postal address nor telephone numbers of the editorial office. She confirmed only that she holds the rights to the newspaper’s name.
Her reticence, DW suggests, may be because the Berliner Tageszeitung has already been at the centre of a scandal. In 2008 Spiegel wrote that two newspapers – Berliner Zeitung and Tageszeitung had taken Berliner Tageszeitung to court for misleading its readers by claiming to go back 130 years and be a continuation of the paper shut down by the Nazis. Spiegel reported that the court had allowed the claim but was unable to hand its ruling to the newspaper since the address given on the website was incorrect. Rosemary Olits then figure as Chief Editor.
Her name, DW writes, is known in Ukraine where she has been connected with a number of scandals. At present the Chief Editor is somebody called S. Rowls and the English name, they suggest, may be linked with the US address for the Berliner Tageszeitung which has no telephone, fax nor working email address. “It is interesting that the Ukrainian national agency UKRINFORM over the last six months has quoted this phantom newspaper at least 11 times. Each time the report was linked with events in Ukraine.