Monday, September 01, 2014

Ukraine Unspun

The Online Debate Over A Mysterious Russian 'Medal'

Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk outside a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol.
Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk outside a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol.

That the Russian Defense Ministry would present a medal to compatriots for "the return of Crimea" to Russia would not normally turn heads. 

It is pictures of what is allegedly written on the back that have caused alarm. 

Photos that originally appeared on the Facebook page of Volodimir Prosin, a historian and journalist from the Luhansk region of Ukraine, show what he claims is the backside of the medal. "For the Return of Crimea: February 20, 2014 - March 18, 2014," it says.  

The end date makes sense -- on March 18, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty annexing the territory. On February 20, however, ousted President Viktor Yanukovych was still in power, Russian troops were still relegated to their Black Sea fleets. And in Kyiv, on that date, over 60 antigovernment protesters were killed by snipers believed to be under the control of Yanukovych. 

Putin has said the decision to support a referendum on Crimea took place only after a secret poll conducted after new authorities -- who he claims present a threat to Russian speakers -- took over in Kyiv on February 22. 

We do not normally report on Internet rumors and we cannot confirm the photos, but the circumstances surrounding the medals drew our interest. 

According to Rustem Adagamov, a well-known Russian blogger and photographer, pictures of a March 25 medal ceremony in Crimea, along with the frontside of the awards, were posted to the Russian Defense Ministry website, but then taken down on the same day.  

And "Russian Ribbon," a ribbon-manufacturing company, claimed in a celebratory note, along with photos on its website, that it had been commissioned to "rush" and order the trimming to accompany the medals.  

Evgeniy Levkovich, a journalist for the Russian-language edition of "Rolling Stone," claimed on Facebook that after a conversation with "Russian Ribbon's" general director he had determined that the February 20-dated medal was "not a fake." 

Levkovich said the director, Vera Yolkina, told him that an order for the medals had come directly from the Defense Ministry. 

In a conversation with RFE/RL though, Yolkina acknowledged that her company had agreed to manufacture the ribbons for the Defense Ministry, but said they had never actually seen the metal pieces that would accompany them.

"Only on the Internet did we see them," she said. 

An official at Russia's Defense Ministry, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, denied altogether that such a medal existed. 

"There has never been a liberation of Crimea," he said. "There was a referendum and the people decided." 

-- Glenn Kates, Crimea Unit of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 25, 2014 14:51
The veterans of the Great Patriotic War, who valiantly fought against fascism, should be satisfied that their fight was not in vain and that the anti-fascist struggle continues, this time against the Bandera supporters of the western-backed fascists that have seized power in Kiev. Russian liberators will soon free Ukraine from fascism yet again, and the West will bow down in humility.
In Response

by: Flo from: Paris
April 26, 2014 23:15
Did you write your 100 emails today and receive your 1180 rubles from Vladimir Putin, Eugenio ? ;)

Maybe it's time this website cleans up these paid Russian trolls' ridiculous comments... although it's always a good laugh to read Cold War stuff like "the West will bow down in humility" :)
In Response

by: Loren from: NY
May 03, 2014 19:31
Eugenio, you should instruct your handlers in Moscow to beat you for not learning your English better; the term you want for what the West has done and is still doing regarding Russia's endless BS barrage is not "bow down" but rather "doubled over." As in "...with laughter."

History is quite clear on how Ukrainians have been "freed" by Russia; freed from having food or even life, freed from peace and having homes. Little else have you ever provided. Ukraine has decided that it's done with you, as you've shown that your way of life has nothing to recommend it, and compares very poorly with other options. And the world stands with them in walking away from you. But it's not really you anyway. You just accept rubles to write trash, and when Russia's own revolution of dignity comes, you will stand for freedom, too. It's not perfect, but its a lot better than what you have now.

Slava Ukrainye from the US. We admire Ukraine's choice to change herself for the better, and her fight for freedom is dear to our hearts.

by: Ray Finch from: Lawrence, KS
April 29, 2014 20:11
Nice report and I had seen the entry on Drugoi’s blog (Adagamov) when it first appeared. His blog entry suggested that the new regent in Crimea (Aksyenov) was one of the first to be awarded with this medal. I’m not sure, however, whether this medal ‘proves’ a larger conspiracy. As someone who frequently wrote citations for medals when I served in the military, the dates of an award don’t necessarily correspond to the actual service. My guess is that these dates reflect rather the general sloppiness of Russian bureaucracy.
In Response

by: John Cox from: Auckland
May 10, 2014 22:36
The date does not matter, so much as the fact that the issue of an official medal from the Russian Ministry of Defence confirms what we knew all along, that Russia had invaded Crimea.

About #UkraineUnspun

The information war is in full swing in the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia. In an attempt to present a clearer picture, #UkraineUnspun will unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists. Written by Glenn Kates and contributors from RFE/RL.

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