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The Sensational Story That Wasn't: Reports Of 'Stoning' Death Of Ukrainian Girl Turn Out To Be False

Kateryna Korin, a 19-year-old Ukrainian student who was murdered in Crimea and made the subject of erroneous international reports on the killing.
Kateryna Korin, a 19-year-old Ukrainian student who was murdered in Crimea and made the subject of erroneous international reports on the killing.
By Farangis Najibullah
The headlines were nothing short of chilling.

"Aspiring 'Miss Ukraine' Killed Under Shari'a Laws In Crimea" warned Ukrainian online newspaper "Gazeta Po-Kievski."

"Radical Islamists Murder Young Girl In Crimea," screamed Russia's "Svobodnaya Pressa."

"Muslim Girl,19, Stoned To Death After Taking Part In Beauty Contest," was the headline on Britain's "Mail Online," the "Daily Mail" website.

The circumstances around the death of Kateryna Korin, a 19-year-old Ukrainian student on the Crimean peninsula, appeared to point to a made-for-tabloid tragedy: a young beauty-pageant contestant brutally killed by her admirer, a radical Islamist who chose to stone her to death under an unforgiving interpretation of Islamic law.

There was just one small problem: They weren't true.

Law-enforcement officials in Crimea have responded to the reports of Korin's killing by saying the tragedy was an "absolutely routine crime" that involved neither stoning, Shari'a law, nor any religious motive.

"The killing of the girl that took place in the Sovietskoye district of Crimea does not have any underlying reasons like religious, national, or interethnic motives," Olha Kondrashova, a spokeswoman for the Crimean division of Ukraine's Interior Ministry, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service. "A young man has been detained as a suspect, and an investigation is under way."

Horrendous Crime

The suspect is believed to be Bilyal Gaziev, a 16-year-old native of the same northern Crimean district and a classmate of the victim's at a local college. He has been charged with premeditated murder, according to law-enforcement officials quoted by Ukrainian media.

So how did a routine -- albeit tragic -- crime of passion turn into a frightening story about a Shari'a-sanctioned stoning?

Some believe the suspect's name and his parents' religious backgrounds have played a role.

Some activists describe it as a campaign to incite religious hatred against Crimean Tatars, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group on the Crimean peninsula. Some Ukrainian websites, including ukra.news, point the finger at Russian media allegedly seeking to manipulate religious sentiments to destabilize Crimea.

Korin reportedly disappeared on May 12 and her body was discovered a week later, dumped in a nearby forest. Police believe she was strangled and then struck in the head with a stone or other blunt object.

Eyewitnesses told reporters that Korin was last seen going into the forest with Gaziev, who, according to classmates and relatives, was Korin's friend and admirer.

Gaziev, an ethnic Russian, was adopted from an orphanage by a Crimean-Tatar family, when he was two months old. Quoting local religious leaders and neighbors, media reports describe Gaziev's parents as non-practicing Muslims who don't attend mosque.

Misinformation Chain

Initial reports about the killing appeared on May 25 but stuck to the basic facts that Korin had been slain in a forest.

But a day later, Russian-language websites in Ukraine, including Novoross.info and Rusnovosti.ru, began giving the story a more sensational -- and erroneous -- twist.

Some of those reports claimed that Gaziev was a follower of radical Wahhabi teachings and that he and two other men stoned the victim to death because she violated Shari'a law by participating in a beauty contest.

Novoross.info quoted Yuri Pershikov, leader of a local Cossack youth organization called Zvezda, as a source for the story -- although it is unclear how he would have specific knowledge about the crime. Pershikov told the publication that the young woman was killed by stoning, which he called a "medieval barbaric act."

Pershikov also claimed, according to novoross.info, that "Russian children are being murdered by Islamic extremists" in the neighborhood of a local madrasah, or religious school. He said that he wouldn't rule out the suspect had ties with students at the madrasah.

Two killings did in fact take place in the area in 2010, and the suspect was reportedly an ethnic Tatar. But police say the suspect suffered from mental illness. There was no evidence suggesting that the killings resulted from Islamic extremism.

Pershikov also criticized the fact that Gaziev, the ethnic Russian suspect, had been given up for adoption to a Muslim family, calling it a "social experiment."

The story then spread to media in Russia and was picked up by international outlets, including "The Daily Mail" -- lending it a veneer of credibility. "The Daily Mail" did not respond to requests for comment. By June 2, the original story had been replaced to suggest "a stalker" might be responsible for the killing but continued to incorrectly identify Korin as a "glamorous Muslim beauty queen."

Finally, the story then went full-circle, with Russian and Ukrainian news outlets citing "The Daily Mail" report.

Remarkably, nobody in this chain of misinformation checked the basic facts of the original report.

The 'Islam Card'?

Crimean Tatars say the whole affair has provoked anti-Muslim sentiment" and have called for an investigation.

"It looks like an informational diversion," says Rifat Chubarov, a Crimean Tatar community leader. "Taking into account that in recent days this information was spread by many mass media outlets, I demand that our Ukrainian Security Service launch an investigation to find out the source of this false information."

Locals in Crimea's Sovietskoye district are clearly troubled by the brutal crime but don't link it to religion, judging by interviews by RFE/RL's Crimea correspondent.

Until now, Islamic radicalism has not been an issue in Crimean villages. But that might just change if unscrupulous media continue to play the religious card.

RFE/RL's Ukraine Service correspondents Volodymyr Prytula in Crimea and Maryana Drach in Prague contributed to this report
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jenna from: NY
June 02, 2011 18:09
Unfortunately the damage is done.
In Response

by: Slava
June 03, 2011 01:40
Concerning religion in the former Communist bloc, there's a good deal of inaccurate reporting about the Russian and Serb Orthodox churches, which don't include critical follow-up like what's evident in the above article.

Religious and non-religious extremism remains a reality in Crimea and elsewhere. It's bogus to suggest a virtuous Tatar community against unruly pro-Russian Slavs. There's right and wrong to be found on both sides.
In Response

by: Adil Memetov from: Crimea
June 03, 2011 09:54
Even the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, that have Crimean branch, not only "copy-pasted" the false news, but also added a poll asking: "A Girl Killed Under Shari'a Laws In Crimea. How do you think, is there a Muslim threat to Ukraine?" (В Крыму забили девушку камнями - по закону шариата. А как вы считаете, существует мусульманская угроза для Украины?)
http://kp.ua/Default.aspx?page_id=40&vote_id=1165
Not surpisingly, the answer was 79% YES.

Very popular web portals tsn.ua and obozrevatel.com also copy-pasted "Islamophobic" lies.
In Response

by: Ace
June 04, 2011 12:52
Adil its time for Crimea to separate from Russia and Ukraine.

by: Jack from: US
June 03, 2011 01:11
This RFERL report follows new direction of US government propaganda. The new direction is to embellish Sharia law, Wahhabi Islam, and make headway for future US dealings with Taliban, and other radical Islamist regimes like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and likewise, especially dealings with new allegedly "democratic" regimes in Egypt and rebels in Lybia. All that in the wake of shameful defeat of US in Afghanistan and Iraq. Way to go for US. Imagine FDR declaring Japanese ideology of militarism a "religion of peace" following Pearl Harbor. However that's how US president Bush depicted Islam following 9/11.
In Response

by: Ace
June 04, 2011 12:51
Don't worry the damage is already done and 1.5 billion people are waking up to undo the damage. I am taking popcorn sit in front of TV and enjoy the show from the Middle East.

by: Slava
June 03, 2011 01:46
Taras Kuzio on Muslim extremism in Crimea:

Taras Kuzio on Muslim extremism in Crimea:

http://www.jamestown.org/programs/edm/single/?tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=35807&tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=485&no_cache=1

In Response

by: Kondor
June 04, 2011 12:59
Is he like Taras Bulba? I didn't like that story the Ukrainian Neo-Nazi hated the Polish people and killed his own son because he loved a girl from Poland.
In Response

by: Slava
June 05, 2011 13:39
The significance of the Taras Kuzio link is that he's:

- frequently propped by RFE/RL

- not known for being particularly Russia friendly

- acknowledges a Muslim fundamentalist issue in Crimea.

As for Gogol's Taras Bulba, the Polish subjugation of predominately Orthodox-Christian land that comprised Rus was imperialistic and not so enlightening as some suggest.

by: Sergey from: Ukraine
June 03, 2011 08:47
Problem in next. Population of Crimea who was came there from Central regions of Russia (mainly) after deportation of Tatars in 1945 thinking that all muslims (Tatars) are must not to be live in Crimea. I very often conversate with different people and I can say that in Crimea peninsula main part of so called "russian" population are xenofobs. I know about this problembecause I'm very often visiting Crimea on long terms.
In Response

by: Slava
June 03, 2011 11:57
Yeah right!

Not like the very "tolerant" (sic) Galicia.

by: Sledgehammer from: USA
June 03, 2011 19:31
RFE's effort to exonerate Sharia is shameless pandering. For every "false" story there are hundreds of true stories. To wit, the story of "Afghan Idol", the story of a woman who must live in hiding because she participated in a pageant /contest.
In Response

by: Ace
June 04, 2011 12:55
Don't worry this true story already developing. If you label and call any person a "murderer" 5000 times don't be surprised when he starts killing.

by: Turgai
June 04, 2011 12:05
This reminds me that completely untrue bogus story, launched by a dodgy, neocon-affiliated Iranian exilee a few years ago, that Ahmadinejad obliged Iranian Jews to wear a yellow star. Part of the mainstream media (and belive me, not only FoxNews) bought into it a sweet pie, which actually says more about them than about the group who was behind the fabricated rumour.

by: Muslim from: World of Allah
June 04, 2011 13:04
Good, now the Arab countries should stop their contracts with lying Russians, because Russians always lie. They are liars and fathers of lies.
In Response

by: Slava
June 04, 2011 21:31
Using your logic, they should stay away from bigoted people of apparent Muslim background like yourself.

"Lying Russians" don't fly planes into buildings for the purpose of killing others.

As noted at this thread, there've been plenty of lies going the other way.
In Response

by: ARABIAN
June 06, 2011 01:37
You know I think he is right, and here is why:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogrom
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hundreds
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_rape_of_German_women_by_Soviet_Red_Army
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Gulag_camps
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khatyn_massacre
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samashki_massacre
...
Need more?
In Response

by: ARABIAN
June 06, 2011 01:26
I agree with you. For the Middle East they produce obsolete and unreliable weapons. The so-called "most reliable" AK-47 rusts after 30 shots. You cannot even compare it with H&K G36 or M4A1. Total rubbish. Not long ago Algeria sent Mig-29SMT's back to Russia because they were literally rotting on the airfields and that is in the desert with no water near. I can only imagine what happens to Migs in India or other countries with humidity above the average. We bought some weapons for testing like BMP's and T's and some AA's ... they suck. No more contracts with Russia for sure.
In Response

by: Slava
June 06, 2011 11:19
Your point being?

On some other past instances:

- Tatar Khanate engages brutal slave trade from Crimea, in comparison to more peaceful Rus

- Nazi Germany, a bigoted regime which was largely defeated on the eastern ront by many who weren't Communists

- The Turkish mass murder of Armwnians and Bulgarians

- The Spanish Inquisition

- Decades of lynchings and discrimination against Blacks in the US.

In Response

by: American from: USA
June 06, 2011 18:12
That is why we bought Mi-17 instead of UH-60 for Afghanistan. Cheap and easy to shot down in case if Afghani army decides to rebel against us.

by: tahiranoor from: sharjah
June 06, 2011 14:13
i just want to say taht never believe on things that you cant conform because westren media is enemy of muslims spreading baseless things against them dont know why they hate us but the image that west media is showing of muslims is totally false ..
In Response

by: Slava
June 07, 2011 01:11
That's BS, as evidenced by the above RFE/RL article.

In comparison, RFE/RL isn't so forthcoming in revealing inaccurately negative commentary against the Russian and Serb Orthodox churches.

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