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It Feels Manipulative and Perilous on ZIK’s Air

Photo: VoxUkraine
1 December 2020
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“Nearly the whole of Ukraine is sucking the financial breasts”, “Soros coughed, the whole of Ukraine coughed too”, “Who is Daddy now?”. No, we have not gone crazy – these are the quotations from a ZIK telecast. So if you have a cough, you know now who is to blame for it. And you also know where to go to if you were not paid your salary or given a subsidy. These quotations are not the most memorable part – the rest of the absurd stuff can be read on the telegram channel “Anthology of Lies“.

This is not ZIK’s first “masterpiece”. We already fact-checked a similar marathon by them aired in February 2020. At the time, the “journalists” and pseudo-experts spoke exclusively about George Soros and his influence on Ukraine. This time, Joe Biden was added to the conspiracy theories. 

Like the last time, the truth was hardly ever heard during the marathon. The stories were a mixture of logical errors, false figures, conjectures and, of course, Russian propaganda. They did not hesitate to mention Putin during the telecast and praise the Russian vaccine. And it was not without clumsy fake statements about Bill Gates and the coronavirus. 

ZIK was trying hard to hide the marathon from the fact-checkers’ eyes: it aired a promo video and then and quickly deleted it. There were no more announcements on its website, YouTube or Facebook page. And it was not positioned as a marathon either. However, that did not help ZIK. On November 26, the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting ordered to conduct an unscheduled inspection of the channel. The reason is that the marathon “has signs of incitement to hostility and hatred, and can incite acts of violence.”

Below are our fact-check and analysis of the striking manipulations from the broadcast. 

And where is the logic? Nowhere!

We watched the whole broadcast attentively and could not understand: when precisely did Soros seize Ukraine? In the mid-1990s, under Poroshenko, or then under Zelenskyi? 

“Never before, in any other country of the world, has 80% of those making decisions in our country been Soros’s people.”

Vadym Rabinovych, 13/11/2020 (0:18-0:26)

“The so-called Sorosists are like a cancerous tumor that originated in the mid-1990s.”

Oleksandr Dubinskyi, 13/11/2020 (0:32-0:39)

“Right, it was Poroshenko who started appointing foreigners to official positions. In Ukraine, these are called Sorosists. In fact, the foreigners occupied the seats of power in Ukraine. <…> They appointed foreigners there to watch over the employees of the enterprise so that they won’t steal money. Well, and not to offend them… the overseas friends… they are paid a half a million hryvnias in their monthly salaries. Those are our taxes.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (07:27-08:13)

“Those who are one way or another involved in George Soros Foundations are called Sorosists in Ukraine. Zelenskyi brought such people to power the most – a day in the sun for the Sorosists.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (08:36-08:48)

A Ukrainian channel? We doubt it.

This section does not contain fact-checks, as we do not fact-check evaluative judgments – it is just a selection of quotations from the broadcast about the need to get rid of “external governance” and start buying Russian gas again. Draw your conclusions.

“He (Orbán – ed.) didn’t buy into the oligarch’s stuff. They repaid the IMF debt and also… that they borrowed money, and they closed down the Soros Foundations. And they also expelled him from the country. Lukashenko also took a dislike to the American financier, severing ties with them back in the 1990s. Russia followed suit – Putin is not happy to see Soros either.”

Kateryna Barchyk, host of ZIK, (04:03-04:26)

“The legislative instrument came to mind while listening to my colleagues for 30 seconds – Medvedchuk proposed it, no other political force did. It had very simple regulatory, legislative instruments. We have an extractive industry, the rent for the use of subsoil resources should be abolished, giving an opportunity to increase the capacity of extractive enterprises, to extract more. Then, we should abolish VAT on energy and talk to Russia about direct gas purchases. That’s what will immediately halve the bill for Ukrainians. And it’s simple. Even the Servants of the People will figure it out. ”

Yuliia Piletska, political analyst (53:14-53:51)

“Unfortunately, Ukraine will be.. unfortunately, is under external governance of the United States of America. It doesn’t suit me, I’m fighting against it, as is our party.”

Viktor Medvedchuk, chairman of the political council of the OPFL party (38:36-38:46) 

Dubinskyi the “Sorosist” and the IMF

A few years ago, in an interview with ZIK, Dubinskyi said that Ukraine needed an IMF loan and that the country would not survive without it. 

“Any cessation of relations with the IMF actually means this state’s bankruptcy. But it’ll probably not stop, because as soon as cooperation with the IMF stops, a bankrupt country is what Russia needs.”

Oleksandr Dubinskyi, 04/07/2017 (24:27-24:41)

During the marathon, a ZIK’s presenter disclosed Dubinskyi’s way of spotting “Sorosists.” It’s very simple: they all support IMF loans.

“We need to learn to spot them. Mr. Dubinskyi suggested one criterion. He says: every “Sorosist” supports loans from the IMF.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (17:46-17:55)

As it turns out, Dubinskyi was also a “Sorosist” three years ago. But he has ever since changed his views to diametrically opposed ones. Well, that happens.

And now a crush course in what the IMF is about. 

The International Monetary Fund operates as a “fund for mutual aid.” That is, all countries make annual contributions to the Fund according to the sizes of their economy – just as a company’s employees make contributions to a fund from their salaries. When a country faces a currency or budget crisis (i.e. a significant deterioration in the economic situation or currency depreciation), the Fund provides a loan to that country. Similarly, an employee who has gotten sick can receive funds from a mutual aid fund.

Countries can use the funds to support their national currency, or, in severe cases, to finance the budget deficit. Interest rates on IMF loans are much lower than the market ones. However, for a country to repay the loan, it negotiates with the Fund a number of reforms helping it overcome the crisis and embark on a path of stable growth. Of course, the Fund monitors the country’s fulfillment of its promises. Similarly, a mutual fund manager can check whether the sick employee actually spent money on medication, and not on, say, a new car.

We have already seen it somewhere: Savchenko and medical reform

Manipulation

“If you go out to fight for your health, then go and stand up for it to have not a Suprun-style medical reform, damn it, but a Semashko system medical reform; go back at least to that system.”

Nadiia Savchenko, 13/11/2020 (01:46:03-01:46:12)

The Semashko system is financing the hospitals based on the number of their premises’ square meters and beds, regardless of whether people are recovering on those beds or just staying there. This system equates professionals and those who are comfortable receiving a salary without making an effort. Therefore, under the Semashko system, both good and not-so-good doctors receive the same official salary and “thanks” from the patients. And the patients receive quality treatment only through their “connections” or if they are lucky. The Semashko system is, therefore, unfair.

We wrote about what it led to in our article about healthcare reform experience in Sumy.

And why we should doubt the veracity of Nadiia Savchenko’s statements can be seen in our Anthology of Lies, where she is not among the leading square shooters.

Russian death vaccine

During the supposed marathon, “The Life-Saving Vaccine” story aired twice on the channel. 

The bottom line is that Russia has already developed a coronavirus vaccine. Allegedly, it has been ordered by Israel, with Hungary planning to order it and the Philippines’ president being ready to test its effectiveness. But Ukrainians will not receive it.

The only thing is that the safety and efficacy of the Russian vaccine are not proven. And no one praises it except for Russian experts (and the “Ukrainian” channel ZIK and “Ukrainian” politician Viktor Medvedchuk).

False

“The Ukrainian government is not willing to buy the vaccine from Russians on principle. They are waiting for the American-German preparation by Pfizer. Not only will it cost more than UAH 500 and its quality is questioned by experts, but it’s also not known how long they’ll have to wait.”

Voiceover, 13/11/2020 (49:45-51:17)

Manipulation

“The registered vaccine, Sputnik V, as well as the second vaccine, Vector, by the Novosibirsk Research Center, they’re the only ones in the world, they have no competitors. So, we should proceed from the fact that these vaccines were launched for mass use in Russia and, according to Russian scientists, it helps in the fight against coronavirus, it should be done instead of talking and conducting philosophical discussions like if it’s in Russia, then it’s bad. But no other country has invented any other vaccines yet.”

Viktor Medvedchuk, 13/11/2020 (49:45-50:20)

The efficacy and safety of the Russian vaccine are not proven. In the final, third phase of testing, the vaccine needs to be tested on thousands of volunteers for safety and efficacy. Only then can its production be launched. The third stage of clinical trials of the Russian vaccine “Sputnik V” is still underway. Previously, 91.4% efficacy was reported, but this figure may change since the study is not complete. Another Russian vaccine, EpiVacCorona, announced the start of the third phase of testing on November 26. In both cases, it is too early to talk about efficacy. 

Instead, Pfizer and BioNTech (Germany and the USA) have already completed the third phase of testing, reporting the vaccine to be 90% effective. More than 40,000 volunteers took part in the third-phase clinical trials of this vaccine. After the marathon, Moderna reported its vaccine to be 95% effective, with more than 30,000 volunteers participating in the third stage of the company’s clinical trials.

Are you really experts? ZIK’s fake content.

In addition to advertising the Russian vaccine, conspiracy theories are also spread on ZIK. They are talked about, for example, by Nadiia Savchenko and Iryna Palamar. And if you may have heard of Savchenko, then who is Iryna Palamar? In short, a pseudo-expert “created” by the pool of Medvedchuk channels. Read more in this article by Detector Media.

Manipulation

“If people are locked up at home, any quarantine will end in riots. Italy showed it, Germany showed it, France showed it – masses of people come out against deception.”

Nadiia Savchenko, 13/11/2020 (01:46:19-01:46:29)

People were not deceived: quarantine measures proved effective in combating COVID-19. Numerous scholarly articles confirm this. For example, a study based on 129 countries’ data found that quarantine measures helped flatten the so-called “epidemic curve”, i.e. reduce the number of those infected who are sick at the same time. Another study based on data from 135 countries found that restrictions on public events and mass gatherings were the most effective. “Flattening the curve” helps reduce the burden on the healthcare system, making sure that there are enough beds, oxygen and doctors available to patients.

In those countries, people did go to rallies against quarantine or wearing masks. However, some of the media exaggerated the number of protesters or passed off the protests against other government decisions as protests against quarantine. In every country, there are people even denying the existence of the coronavirus. But most people do understand the benefits of quarantine and sanitary measures and follow the rules.

False

“Well, now about quarantine. Globally speaking, it’s a transition to new world order, we all understand that it’s a soap bubble, this whole stock market, the Federal Reserve System, all this is being deep-sixed, small and medium business, all these statements in Davos, all this WHO, all these statements by Bill Gates that only 15% can be put away because … we can vaccinate. That’s all clear.”

Iryna Palamar, 13/11/2020 (01:46:44-01:47:05)

All of these allegations are unfounded, with no factual evidence. Quarantine and the pandemic were not planned as a transition to new world order. Scientists believe that the virus has a natural origin. Governments are doing their best to maintain the “normal” order by supporting businesses, people and markets, funding the development of vaccines that will eventually help return to “normalcy”. 

Bill Gates did not speak about a 15% reduction in the population due to vaccines. He spoke of a slowdown in population growth: with better vaccination, healthcare and access to healthcare (not just vaccination), more children will survive, and so the need to give birth to more children will disappear. We have written more than once about it. 

These are not the first fake statements made by the two people. For example, Nadiia Savchenko used to claim that quarantine was artificial and that the virus was used to regulate the population numbers. We have repeatedly refuted such statements: the scientists say the virus is of natural origin

Not only does Iryna Palamar favor conspiracy theories, but she also seems to have done poorly in physics at school. We decided to look at her Facebook page and found fake information about “chemtrails” there. Palamar thinks that airplane condensation trails are poisonous to humans. We have also refuted it before.

The rest of the quotations and their refutation can be found here:

Without a verdict

The host: “Mr.Anatoliy, is it true that Poroshenko – and this has been forgotten by some – he raised the tariffs in favor of… tariffs for everyone in Ukraine in favor of one person (Biden – ed.)? How is that possible?” Anatoliy Shariy: “Yes, of course! Well, listen, he even raised the tariffs more, wanting to curry favor. That one talked about 70%, but he raised them by 100%.”

Dialogue, 13/11/2020 (09:20-09:43)

This conversation was mentioned on the so-called “Derkach tapes“. Someone speaking allegedly the voice of Poroshenko says that they doubled the tariffs, although the IMF asked for a 75% increase.

At the same time, the Memorandum with the IMF never included provisions to raise tariffs for the population by a certain percentage. Ukraine pledged to the IMF to bring the tariffs up to market levels, i.e. make them the same for the population and industry.

Since we can neither validate nor invalidate the Derkach tapes, we leave this quotation without a verdict.

False

“But it looks like the official’s mood (Mylovanov’s – ed.) changed in November 2019. Then, he was paid UAH 236 thousand. Experts already called it a prepayment for opening up the land market, which is beneficial to multinational corporations.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (10:58-11:14)

The figure of UAH 236 thousand was disseminated in the media as a bonus to be paid in November 2019 to the then Minister of Economy. However, this information was not confirmed: at the request of Novoye Vremia, the Ministry reported Mylovanov’s pay for November of UAH 64.3 thousand.

It is absurd that they should call this a prepayment for opening up the land market. Firstly, the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture prepared the Land market law, but the final decision to adopt it rested with the MPs. Secondly, the market provides the owners with the opportunity and right to dispose of their property, in particular, to sell it. Landowners can sell their land if they are unwilling or unable to cultivate it. However, if the owners do not want to sell their plots of land, they can still rent them out.

Opening up the land market under different modes of operation will result in an additional average annual GDP growth of up to 1.9%.

False

“Soros is often accused of interfering in other countries’ affairs. And he does interfere to make money, and quietly, like a snake, sprays venom, gradually killing the economy.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (01:02-01:14)

The Open Society Foundations provided financing to organizations and initiatives on healthcare, education, anti-corruption, improving the quality of the legal framework, ensuring the independence and transparency of the judiciary, and more. This creates the conditions for sustainable economic development, not decline.

Manipulation

“And he is involved with the complete collapse of Argentina’s economy. The American’s securities fraud forced the government to ask the IMF for money. The poor country took money to cover the budget deficit. Its debt was USD 132 billion. The authorities had nothing to pay pensions from, people began to take to the streets, the protests were bloody. Twenty people died. Argentina is still on the IMF drugs, and people are still protesting against the loans.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (02:29-03:04)

Argentina’s 2001 technical default on its USD 132 billion public debt had structural causes, being just one of the consequences of the deep financial and economic crisis known as the Argentine Great Depression of 1998-2002. This crisis was preceded by 15 years of economic stagnation and unsuccessful market reforms. The depression began with the financial crisis in Asia that later spread to most developing countries. From 1998 to 2002, Argentina’s GDP fell by 28%. 

The main reasons behind the crisis and subsequent default are Argentina’s national currency being pegged to the US dollar (which was later abandoned) and the unjustified expansion of budget spending due to large-scale government borrowing in foreign currency. At some point, foreign investors lost faith in the Argentine government’s ability to pay off its debts. And they began to sell Argentine securities. Consequently, the Argentinian currency depreciated. The government defaulted, being unable to pay off its obligations.

However, the country had received IMF loans before, and it was not “forced to ask the IMF for money” due to default, as the speaker put it.

There is no evidence that economic depression and default on external obligations by USD 132 billion, with the preconditions spanning several decades, are George Soros’s operations with securities.

Manipulation

“He (Orbán – ed.) didn’t buy into the oligarch’s stuff. They repaid the IMF debt and also… that they borrowed money, and they closed down the Soros Foundations. And they also expelled him from the country.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (04:03-04:16)

Similar ideas were heard in February, during a similar marathon on ZIK.

Soros’s activities in Hungary were not banned. In October 2017, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the country’s NGOs “agents of the Soros Empire”, destroying his policies. Orbán himself established authoritarianism in the country. After the 2018 parliamentary elections, the OSCE observers noted that the real opposition could not communicate their ideas to people – Orbán controls public space. Those close to him control the media and industry.

In 2018, Hungary passed a package of laws imposing strict restrictions on the activities of non-governmental organizations. In this regard, the Open Society Foundations voluntarily ceased their activities in Hungary.

Currently, Hungary has no debts to the IMF. But it remains a member of the Fund. Therefore, the IMF experts assess the country’s economic situation every year (a so-called Article IV consultation) and publish a report.

Manipulation

“Lukashenko also took a dislike to the American financier, severing ties with them back in the 1990s. Russia followed suit – Putin is not happy to see Soros either.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (04:16-04:26)

In 1997, the Renaissance Foundation ceased its activities in Belarus due to a conflict with the authorities. Lukashenko wanted to control the Foundation’s activities, obstructing its work through criminal proceedings. The work of the Soros Foundation was unprofitable for Lukashenko, as the Foundation supported independent NGOs. Back in 1997, the New York Times wrote about human rights abuses in Belarus.

The Foundation’s activities were just as unprofitable for Putin. That is why the Foundation that supported the development of civil society, healthcare, science and education in Russia and engaged in the development of legislation and protection of human rights from 1987 to 2015 was declared “undesirable” in the country.

As we can see, the Foundation stands in the way of the authoritarian heads of state, as they need obedient “subjects”, not educated ones.

Manipulation

“Before Oleksiy Honcharuk, there hadn’t ever been a Sorosist prime minister in Ukraine. <..> And Honcharuk made an already wide hole in our budget even wider – more than UAH 80 billion. “The Sorosists did the economy in,” – Oleksiy said overtly”.

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (08:57-10:09)

The 2019 state budget deficit really amounted to UAH 81 billion. This is 2% of GDP, the planned figure being 2.26%. And although the state budget deficit increased compared to the previous year (UAH 59 billion or 1.7% of GDP against the planned 2.4% in 2018), it remained within the planned range. It is, therefore, incorrect to speak about “making an already wide hole wider”.

It is also incorrect to lay the responsibility for the 2019 budget indicators only on the ex-prime minister. Honcharuk held the post for six months (August 29, 2019 – March 4, 2020), with only 4 of them in 2019. An increase in the budget deficit compared to the previous year depended on the factors beyond the government’s control: political uncertainty due to the double elections, a strengthening of the hryvnia exchange rate, changes in prices in foreign markets.

The phrase “the Sorosists did the economy in” is heard on the so-called Honcharuk tapes. In the recordings, a man in the voice of former PM Honcharuk predicts a decline in GDP growth from 4 to 2%, ironically pointing out that the President may be told that “these reformers did the economy in, that is the Sorosists.” These words, therefore, should not be taken literally.

False

“The millionaire spares no expense, every year… his Foundation spends about $300 million on charitable projects.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (04:35-04:44)

False

“18,000 projects are funded by Soros in Ukraine, and that’s not some teeny tiny funding for school concerts.”

Kateryna Barchyk, 13/11/2020 (05:04-05:11)

False

“Soros Foundations have been in Ukraine since 1991. Now, according to many analysts, according to experts, 18 thousand projects are funded by the Foundation. This Foundation finances journalists, TV channels, that is, public opinion leaders, and various organizations, the so-called NGOs. ”

Iryna Palamar, 13/11/2020 (01:33:24-01:33:49)

Since 1990, the Renaissance Foundation has supported about 9,500 projects and spent about $310 million over the years (not annually).

False

“Very soon, Ukrainians will feel the warmth of Western care when the first heat and gas payments are due.”

Voiceover, 11.13.2020 (31:05-31:15)

Firstly, the authors hint that raising utility and gas prices in Ukraine is required by “Western partners.” That is not the case.

Secondly, it is necessary to distinguish between the price of gas, used to heat private houses and the price of heat, i.e. its centralized supply or the heating of individual residential buildings by private companies. 

The price of gas is formed in the market – that is, depending on supply and demand. The gas tariff for end-users depends on the price of imported gas (European TTF hub gas price), the cost of transportation and the gas suppliers’ markup.

The heat tariff is set by the local authorities and the NCSREPU. The CHPs can also run on gas, coal or mazut.

Manipulation

“The legislative instrument came to mind while listening to my colleagues for 30 seconds – Medvedchuk proposed it, no other political force did. It had very simple regulatory, legislative instruments. We have an extractive industry, the rent for the use of subsoil resources should be abolished, giving an opportunity to increase the capacity of extractive enterprises, to extract more. Then, we should abolish VAT on energy and talk to Russia about direct gas purchases. That’s what will immediately halve the bill for Ukrainians. And it’s simple. Even the Servants of the People will figure it out.”

Yuliia Piletska, political expert, 13/11/20120 (53:14-53:51)

Viktor Medvedchuk did propose such a plan. The only thing is that Medvedchuk’s wife, Oksana Marchenko, owns several gas companies in Russia. Medvedchuk himself has repeatedly said that those are his companies, and they were registered to his wife’s name only because of the US sanctions. So, overall, such proposals are more like lobbying one’s business interests than a wise statesman’s ideas.

As for “abolishing VAT”. A similar option on the part of Russia was introduced in 2004. At the time, Moscow abolished VAT on energy exports to Ukraine – that should have reduced the price of petroleum products. As the then deputies from Our Ukraine put it, it could be a political “payment” for the selling out of Ukrainian national interests.

Ukraine has not bought gas from the occupying country for five years now; the price of fuel is set in the market. After ceasing to buy Russian gas, its price for Ukraine became lower.

False

“Today, any drug addict can rent a car for UAH 300 per day, get in, get connected and drive people around tomorrow, any robber can get in and drive people around. Lack of control, impunity – that’s the reason for such situations (referring to an accident in Kyiv on November 13 – ed.).”

Andriy Antoniuk, 13/11/2020 (43:23-43:35)

No, they cannot. For example, with the Uber and Uklon services, to register drivers in the system, a car registration certificate, driver’s license and car liability insurance are required. Yes, that is only a necessary minimum, but not “lack of control” as the speaker put it.


Authors
  • Svitlana Slipchenko, Yuliia Zhaha, Valeriia Stepaniuk, Anastasiia Ivantsova, Vitaliy Protsenko

Attention

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations