To justify his war of Russian aggression, Vladimir Adolfovich Putler (not an actual name), has resorted to various lies to bolster the propaganda that fuels his army of internet trolls as well as his international efforts of discrediting Ukraine and justifying his murderous war. Today we examine some of his claims.
Nazi’s and Antisemitism
We’ve all heard Putin’s claims that Ukraine is run by neo-nazis who want to kill Russian speakers. When confronted with the fact that Ukraine’s president is Jewish, “(Russian) Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it didn’t matter that Ukrainian President Zelensky is Jewish because Hitler – he claimed – was part Jewish” (PBS). “Wise Jewish people say that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews,” Lavrov continued. This bit of conspiratorial logic was so widely condemned that even Putler himself apologized to the Israeli Prime Minister (BBC).
Comparisons between Zelensky and Hitler fall short on a number of levels. For example, Hitler had Jews killed by the millions, whereas Zelensky has not been responsible for the deaths of any Jews. Instead, he has honored the deaths of previous Jewish generations jointly with the Israeli Prime Minister by visiting and commemorating their graves and memorial sites (Euronews).
Are there antiSemites in Ukraine? Of course. But of all the nations in Europe, Ukraine is one of the least racist. The following chart reflects polling data from the Pew Research Center:
So amidst all the charges of racism and antisemitism, it turns out Ukraine is one of the least racist countries in all of Europe and the surrounding countries are 3X to 4X more antisemitic than the one country enduring Russia’s propaganda.
Child Sex Trafficking
In early April, a viral Facebook article posted with the headline that Ukraine was number one in child sex trafficking. Putin’s bots put this out there because they know that very few people will check the reports as raw data for these assertions are often shown deep down in lengthy reports. Is there child trafficking in Ukraine? Yes… as there are in most countries. Is Ukraine the worst? Not by a long shot(1). First, here is a list of countries with government sanctioned human trafficking: Afghanistan, Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, North Korea, Iran, Russia, South Sudan, Syria and Turkmenistan. In fact, there are 65 countries that are rated worse for human trafficking than Ukraine is. The state department ranks Ukraine among the nations that have not reached the minimum standard for the elimination of human trafficking, but are making significant efforts to reach those standards. Thus, Ukraine is aware of its problems and is putting forth a lot of effort to stop trafficking in its tracks. Russia is in the bottom twenty.
As the social media post on Ukrainian child sex trafficking was circulating the internet, another one of Putler’s lies was making the rounds… namely, that Ukraine is the money laundering capital of the world. Due to the secretive nature of the financial world, this lie is trickier to debunk, but fortunately the Basel Institute on Governance has been keeping rankings on the danger of money laundering and terrorist financing since 2012.(2) The Public Edition of their findings ranks 110 countries and gives each of them a score. Without getting into what the score actually means, one should note that a higher score is bad, but a higher rank is good. So, while first place Haiti gets an overall score of 8.49, 109th place Finland gets a score of 3.06. Haiti = bad. Finland = good. The United States has a score of 4.60 with a rank among nations of 83rd place. Ukraine is ranked 55 and has a score of 5.21. Once again, the pariah state of Russia scores worse than Ukraine with a rank of 44, and an overall score of 5.49.
“Anything you can do, I can do better”
In the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun!”, Betty Hutton plays the sharpshooter, Annie Oakley, opposite Howard Keel who played the role of Frank Butler. In this video clip (click here), you can see the spunky Miss Oakley in a singing competition with her dashing counterpart, Mr. Butler, “Anything you can do, I can do better…”. This song is a timeless classic that never gets old, but when Vladimir Putin sings it, while playing the role of Adolfovich Putler, it gets old really quickly. It would seem that whatever Ukraine is accused of by its blood-thirsty neighbor to the north, Russia is better at it… or perhaps I should say worse.
Russia: “I can launder money, better than you can, I can launder money better than you.”
Ukraine: “Yes, you can.”
Russia: “Yes, we can.”
Russia: “I can traffic children, better than you can. I can traffic children, better than you.”
Ukraine: “And adults too.”
Russia: “Better than you.”
Russia: “I can be a racist, better than you can. I can be a racist, better than you.”
(1) Based on the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report. https://www.state.gov/reports/2021-trafficking-in-persons-report/
(2) https://index.baselgovernance.org/ (and) https://index.baselgovernance.org/ranking