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Russian Media Coverage Of The Donetsk Attack On Pro-Ukraine Protesters


Clashes in Donetsk.

Clashes in Donetsk.

This is what we know happened in Donetsk on April 28: About 2,000 demonstrators gathered in the center of the eastern city for a march in support of a united Ukraine.

They were attacked by some 100 men wielding various accoutrements -- including metal rods, baseball bats, and truncheons.

How do we know this is what happened? Our reporters were there:

But you don't have to take our word for it.

From the Global Post:

From "The Telegraph":

A short video report from ITV News:

It's usually not this simple. On April 27, when pro-Kyiv football ultras clashed with pro-Russian separatists there was clearly violence emanating from both sides. In the case of yesterday's events in Donetsk, however, the evidence of a largely one-sided attack appears to be overwhelming.

But Russian media has an altogether different story.

From ITAR-TASS, a state-run news agency:
"On April 28, masked men shouting nationalist slogans attacked a [pro-Russian] anti-fascist rally. Several dozen radical [pro-Kyiv] activists began throwing stones at the [pro-Russian] procession. They also reportedly had grenades. Rebuffed, the attackers fled."

In linking to the report, Tikhon Dzyadko, a host for the liberal Russian Dozhd TV channel, said ITAR-TASS had gone from "continuing to lie" to "plain fantasizing."

Russian TV blamed pro-Kyiv football hooligans for attacking "pro-federalization" protesters.

The Pravda.ru website took the story a step further, claiming the pro-Kyiv protesters -- linked in the report to a Nazi SS "glorification" group -- tried to carry out a "real cleaning" of the streats of Donetsk.
"The [pro-Kyiv] radicals started to attack people, including passersby, beating them with bats," a report on the site said.

Meanwhile, Graham Phillips, a freelancer for RT, the Russian government's English-language outlet, said Western journalists were being overly simplistic in their descriptions of events.

Although he granted that the pro-Russia side was "just militant today," he said the pro-Kyiv demonstrators had a "peaceful and militant side." And he appeared to blame the "militants" on the Ukrainian side for purposely marching the demonstrators into a pro-Russian attack.

An RT report relied almost exclusively on Phillips' curated tweets -- excluding the one about the militant nature of the Russian side and another about hundreds of peaceful Ukrainians -- and on quotes from the press spokesperson of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, who told RT 1,000 "neo-Nazi thugs" had attacked peaceful pro-Russian protesters.

-- Glenn Kates, with reporting by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

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