Crisis of Legitimacy

ODESSA/BERLIN | | ukraine

ODESSA/BERLIN (Own report) - The unprecedented disinformation campaign being waged by the leading German media has reached a new climax with its reporting on the murder of more than 40 people in Odessa. In the Ukrainian metropolis of a million inhabitants, the Trade Union House "caught fire" - "a catastrophe," whose cause is still unknown. This is how it was reported immediately following the fire, on May 2. Even though supporters of the putschists in Kiev could be seen hurling Molotov cocktails at those barricaded inside the Trade Union House on international press agency photos, key German media organs chose to publish the Ukrainian intelligence services' falsified bulletins claiming that "Moscow" was responsible for the crimes. Those murdered were among a group of demonstrators calling for regional autonomy. They had fled their attackers and were chased into the Trade Union House, blocked inside and left to a gruesome death by suffocation.

Even though the context can long since be reconstructed, the "Tagesschau" evening news cast still described the scene in deliberately vague terms 24 hours later. For example, on May 3, at 20:15 the incident in Odessa was described in the First German Television Network (ARD): "The Trade Union House caught fire."[1] This formulation sounds like a technical defect, while avoiding linking the incident to an abundance of news material from international agencies. That "unidentified persons" may have set the fire is all that was admitted, claiming ignorance of the surrounding circumstances.


Forty-eight hours later, that pro-government TV channel retreated to the prescribed terminology; "both parties to the conflict" accuse each other, making the situation unclear. After having covered, in February, the Russophobe violence on Kiev's Maidan with elaborate live broadcasts from its correspondents, letting them from time to time be accompanied by the shrill atmosphere, today, the ARD seems incapable of doing its own research.

Interpretation Hegemony

The ARD was again on the Odessa scene, giving the putsch participant, Vladimir Klitschko the opportunity to express in an interview his regrets about what had happened and his wish that the city's inhabitants will find more peace. This gave the symbolic figure of German interference into Ukraine's internal affairs [2] to impose a hegemony over the interpretation of this crime; it has deteriorated into pastoral mourning. The television audience learned nothing about the fact that those responsible for the crime are suspected of being among Klitschko's political associates in Kiev.

Own Fault

Yesterday, (Sunday) - 72 hours after the murders in Odessa - the ARD ultimately had the idea of letting Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the most aggressive representatives of Kiev's putschists, attempt to justify what had happened. He alleged that the police in Odessa had failed, but that those responsible for the incident are to be found in Russia (Moscow's "Plan to destroy Ukraine"). The ARD exhaustively quoted verbatim these anti-Russian tirades on its webpage [3] and during a prime time photo report at 20:00, without even mentioning a second source to corroborate or contradict this propaganda. The ARD refers also to "bloody clashes," naming no active participants or insinuating that the responsibility lies solely with the anti-government insurgents. For example, in yesterday's 20:00 "Tagesschau," the ARD alleged that the murders in Odessa were only the reaction to the attacks made by the victims themselves.


The way news of the crimes in Odessa are being reported corresponds to months of continuous, systematic gradation of journalistic standards, which have almost entirely been tailored to Berlin's foreign policy stipulations.[4] For example, for days, the ARD had harped on the deliberate confusion around the Bundeswehr's military operation without calling the operation by its name. The Bundeswehr had dispatched so-called observers to East Ukraine at the demand of Kiev's putsch regime. The ARD either referred to these German military personnel as "members of an OSCE mission" or called them "diplomats."[5]


The fact that these German military personnel were operating under a secret agreement with the illegitimate putsch regime, needing information on the deployment of insurgent forces to prepare its "anti-terror" war on Eastern Ukraine, was either considered not newsworthy or it was relegated to the nocturnal "talk shows" ("conspiracy theory"). Instead, the ARD network made a special broadcast (May 2), presenting an assumed non-partisan specialist for the OSCE thesis. On the screen, the specialist was identified as an associate of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). He was permitted - in the course of a minute-long monologue - to confirm the version of an alleged OSCE-sponsored mission. Is espionage behind it? This question was never even raised. The television viewers were never informed that the interview partner was Wolfgang Richter, currently a Colonel, member of the Bundeswehr's General Staff, and the section commander of these obscure military observers, whose headquarters are in Geilenkirchen, a Bundeswehr - and previously a NATO nuclear weapons - site. The ARD opened their airwaves to a disguised military officer.


The masquerade of scholarship put on by the Bundeswehr in that special broadcast on public television has degenerated to the level of cold war news reporting. In the years 1962 to 1975, the ARD (including its correspondent Winfried Scharlau) and the Second German Television, "ZDF," (including its correspondent Peter Scholl-Latour) fueled the Federal German Republic's military readiness against Hanoi, Moscow and Peking. Vilifying the adversary - as a matter of principle - and allegedly defending the western "community of values" are part of the leading media's standard repertoire. The large-scale war crimes committed by the USA and its allies in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were either not mentioned at all in news reports or dismissed as communist inspired rumors.

Three Stages

The leading German media used a similar approach during the war on Yugoslavia and the aggression against Iraq. Three stages can be distinguished in this approach. During the first stage - the stage of preparing and conducting offensive operations - reliable correspondents with appropriate connections to military and political staffs, supervise the production of news. Correspondents and "special correspondents" in Brussels (NATO), Washington and Moscow provide the orientation. Long-time WDR journalist Rolf-Dieter Krause (nicknamed "NATO-Krause" in the WDR) is currently director of the ARD's Brussels studio. During this first stage, which does not leave any room for skeptics, Ina Ruck (WDR) was Moscow's correspondent and Ukraine commentator. The news reporting is hermetic and hysterical.


Once the operation's goal is within reach (or remaining obstacles seem surmountable), the informational horizon widens (second stage). In the Ukraine conflict, this second stage began when the government in Kiev was successfully overthrown in late February. The particularly gung-ho correspondents are then replaced with more liberal colleagues. Media-hype aimed at creating a public image of the enemy is replaced by a reporting aimed at calming the public. This reporting includes critics, who are welcomed (particularly in talk shows) to point out shortcoming, errors and perhaps act as prompters to propose improvements in the ongoing operation.


Once this stage of the operation is ended or - due to unexpected problems - postponed, the third stage starts: A media review with, at times, startling investigative reports. This stage aims at comprehensively integrating civil society, whose pacifist skepsis or political accusations should (and must) be aired, before the next operation starts. The WDR documentary "It Began With a Lie" [6] following the war on Yugoslavia and - following the Maidan massacre - the WDR "Monitor" report about the alleged assassins coming from the Kiev putschist circles ("Who Were the Gunmen on the Maidan?")[7] are examples of this media inclusion. It becomes apparent that the reporting regional ARD stations (currently WDR), may be identical in all of the stages. They do not reflect their internal political orientations, but follow the guiding concepts of the leading personnel and the ties these have to structures of the state-supporting parties.

Growing War Danger

There is massive protest against the leading German media organs' disinformation campaign. The protest response is so strong that public television channels have had to periodically shut down the commentary functions of their internet pages, "due to overload."[8] In fact, the government-line press has been incapable of convincing a majority of public opinion of an inevitable military reorientation, as was bluntly demanded by the NATO General Secretary (also yesterday May 4, in the ARD) with increases in the arms expenditures. A majority of the population is also skeptical about the further encirclement of Russia, which will ratchet up the danger of war and demonstrate that the EU's guiding principle "Peace in Europe" is a lie. The persisting intensity of their unsuccessful news reporting is the expression of a political crisis of legitimacy.

More reports and background information on the current German policy toward Ukraine can be found here: A Broad-Based Anti-Russian Alliance, Expansive Ambitions, Our Man in Kiev, Integration Rivalry with Moscow, On the Offensive, At all Costs, The Crimean Conflict, The Kiev Escalation Strategy, Cold War Images, The Free World, A Fatal Taboo Violation, The Europeanization of Ukraine, Official Government Vocative and An Unusual Mission.

[1] Wortprotokoll der Sendung.
[2] See Our Man in Kiev and Der Mann der Deutschen.
[3] Pro-russische Kräfte attackieren Polizeizentrale. 04.05.2014.
[4] See The Free World.
[5] See An Unusual Mission.
[6] Sendung am 08.04.2001.
[7] Sendung am 11.04.2014.
[8] So am 03.05.2014 auf der Internet-Seite der ARD-"Tagesschau"/"Tagesthemen".