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The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

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Russian MP promises a child from Kyiv missiles as a 'New Year present'

16.12.2022   
Halya Coynash

Kyiv 10 October attack Photo DSNS, Russian MP Oleg Nilov claiming to read out ’Vova from Kyiv’s letter’ - screenshot

Kyiv 10 October attack Photo DSNS, Russian MP Oleg Nilov claiming to read out ’Vova from Kyiv’s letter’ - screenshot

An MP from Russia’s State Duma, taking part in a ‘New Year wishes’ charity event, has, with a smirk on his face, assured ‘a young Ukrainian boy from Kyiv’ that he will get missiles for New Year. His alleged ‘joke’ was almost certainly intended to amuse a Russian audience which is well aware of the bombs that Russia is using to deprive millions of Ukrainians of heating, electricity and water during freezing temperatures. 

Radio Svoboda explains that Oleg Nilov (from the ‘Just Russia’ party) was supposedly reading out present wishes from under the New Year tree during an annual  State Duma ‘New Year wishes’ charitable event.  The letters under the tree are, supposedly, from children with special needs or from families in need, as well as from orphans.  It seems that this year such letters could also be sent by children of Russians mobilized or from children on territory which Russia is currently occupying.  This, however, would not explain the appearance of the alleged letter signed by “Vova from Kyiv”, and it seems likely that Nilov’s supposed ‘joke’ (and the letter from a Ukrainian lad) was planned in advance. Nilov claimed to have read that  “Little boy Vova from Kyiv dreams of rockets. Vova, you’ll get rockets, just wait.”  He then quickly says that this was ‘a joke’.  On the video, presently available on YouTube, as well as here and other social media channels, you can see  Artem Metelyev, head of the committee on youth policy cover his face.  It is, however, unclear whether this is because he is appalled by Nilov’s so-called ‘joke’ or to hide a smirk. 

Russia began bombing civilian targets from the beginning of its full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022, with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reporting on 5 December that it had recorded 6,702 deaths with a further 10,479 people injured.  That figure cannot include the likely huge death toll in Mariupol and other places to which the Russians are denying access.  While the world saw video footage and satellite images, demonstrating that Russia was deliberately bombing apartment blocks; schools; hospitals; etc., Moscow and Russian state media continued to repeat, mantra-like, the lie that Russia was only firing at military targets.  That, however, changed after Russia began openly targeting Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, especially energy sources, on 10 October.  

In speaking before the Council of the Federation (the upper house of parliament) on 10 October, Russian leader Vladimir Putin effectively admitted to such attacks and to the lack of any military strategy behind them.  He first listed what he claimed to be ‘Ukraine’s acts of terrorism’.  These included the explosion on the Crimea (Kerch) Bridge, which Russia, as aggressor state, built illegally and was using to transport soldiers, military hardware and weapons for its war against Ukraine.  He also mentioned an alleged attack on the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant in Russia although there has been no independent proof to back Russia’s claim that there were attacks on the Kursk nuclear plant and that they were committed by Ukraine.  These alleged ‘acts of terrorism’ were then presented as ‘justification’ for Russia’s mass attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure. 

By 15 December, the energy infrastructure in virtually all areas of Ukraine not under Russian occupation has been bombed, often more than once, and Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has openly admitted that Russia plans to continue killing civilians and placing the lives of millions in danger until Kyiv capitulates to its demands.

These are war crimes and also, given Russia’s criminal shelling of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, pose a direct hazard to the life and safety of people far beyond Ukraine.

They are also a source of gleeful satisfaction for a terrifying number of ‘journalists’ and commentators on Russian state media.  The Ukrainian Zmina Human Rights Centre, for example, notes how Yevgenia Petrukhina, a presenter on the Rossiya state TV channel, smirked when reporting that a Kyiv resident had received carbon monoxide poisoning when trying to get warm using a generator.

The same employees of Russian state television are careful not to report the carnage that Russia has inflicted, nor the suffering of those areas now under occupation after months of Russian bombing. 

It is therefore frustrating that the International Federation of Journalists still has, as one of its members, the Russian Union of Journalists.  This is a state-funded ‘union’ which provides the coverage, or the muffling of the facts demanded of it. 

It should be stressed that we are talking about ‘journalists’ deliberately concealing or distorting information about war crimes.  In an appeal on 2 September 2022, prominent Ukrainian media organizations called on international colleagues to condemn Russian propagandists, and stated that they should face trial as war criminals. 

This view would certainly be shared by the authors of two important studies this year, both of which found evidence that the Russian state media and Russian officials are engaged in direct, public incitement to genocide in Ukraine. 

See: Russian propaganda media and ex-President guilty of direct incitement to genocide in Ukraine, report finds

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