Russian propaganda: Polish mercenaries fight for Ukraine in Donbas. Any proof?

Most of Poles have no idea about Russian mass media reports on organised groups of Polish mercenaries that are fighting in the east of Ukraine.

‘Poles and Americans’

During yesterday’s talk show ‘Norkin’s list’ aired by Gazprom-owned TV channel NTV two women presenting themselves as ‘residents of Donbas’ verbally attacked reputed Russian journalist Kseniya Sobchak after she said that Russian regular troops were fighting in Donbas. The two women stuck to their story saying it is the Poles and Americans who are to blame for the war but gave no valid evidence to the words, which again proves the strength of Russian propaganda.

‘Polish and … some Flemish’

Today Russia’s state-run news agency RIA has also reported the presence of Polish mercenaries in Donbas. Eduard Basurin,  deputy chief of headquarters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic stated his subordinates had intercepted talks in four languages – Polish, French, English and ‘some Flemish’. Basurin expressed confidence that there were foreign mercenaries near Debaltseve but added they did not have any ‘personal possessions’ to prove it. “As soon as we find them we’ll show,” he said.

 ‘IPhone’ vs Polish mercenaries and Pravy Sektor

In early February Russian journalist Alexander Buzaladze was accompanying a group of separatists attacking the Ukrainian town of Vuhlehirsk in the vicinity of Debaltseve.

“The special forces company commander (nom-de-guerre IPhone) is preparing the final attack on the Centre of Vuhlehirsk. There are block of flats where Pravy Sektor [Right sector, Ukraine’s right-wing party] fighters and Polish mercenaries entrenched themselves,” he says.

It is curious how the journalist who was far enough from these ‘block of flats’ managed to define the enemies’ nationality. Moreover, when ‘IPhone’ and the TV crew managed to get to the place they failed to find any stuff which could belong to defenders of the building.

 ‘Poles are recruiting’

On February, 2 Russian TV channel REN-TV broadcasted a program dedicated to foreign mercenaries in eastern Ukraine. Its reporters visited the office of company ‘Salvor’ which is allegedly owned by Poland’s ex-foreign minister Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz. ‘According to certain sources’, the company is engaged in recruiting would-be fighters for Ukraine, the journalists stated. Bartosz Bekkier, a leader of Polish radical nationalist organisation ‘Falanga’, was invited to the program as an expert. Bekkier is notorious for his vocal support of Putin‘s policy towards Ukraine. The only ‘proof’ of Salvor’s recruiting activity was its office’s proximity to the embassy of Ukraine…

Planes with hundreds of Poles’ bodies on board

On February, 5 Robert Pszczel, Director of NATO Information Office in Moscow, was invited to the program ‘Politics’ (Channel Rossiya 1). His opponents, notorious Russian nationalists Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Aliaksandr Rutskoy, accused Pszczel of NATO’s fuelling the war in Donbas and stated that ‘hundreds of Poles’ were killed in Donbas, their bodies ‘secretly being taken to Warsaw’. In keeping with the best traditions of Soviet propaganda, the hosts deprived the guest of any chance to be heard out. Robert Pszczel considers their behaviour as ‘a show of hatred’.

On July, 30 Igor Strelkov-Girkin, a separatist leader, told Russian media that several Polish mercenaries had been taken captive. On September, 2 news portal (part of state-owned TV channel Rossiya24) reported a parallel case.

Where is any proof?

Apart from sticking to allegations Russian media never showed any proof of the presence of Polish mercenaries or units fighting for  in Donbas. Conversely, there have been reports on a Pole who has joined separatists’ ranks. Dariusz Lemański sided with pro-Russian separatists in October, 2014. Activists of Falanga are also closely cooperating with them.

Jakub Biernat