Western media continued its tradition of whitewashing far-right extremism in Ukraine this week, reporting that Italian police busted a neo-Nazi gang ‘linked’ to Russia – but this alleged link was dreamed up out of thin air.
Italian police said on Monday that they had seized a cache of weapons and Nazi memorabilia belonging to a neo-Nazi group operating in northern Italy.
The bust was part of a year-long investigation into extremists who had fought “against the separatists” in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
Those who read the news via major outlets like the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Politico, ABC News, Sky News, CBS and Reuters learned a totally different version of events, however.
Rather than fighting “against” the rebels in eastern Ukraine’s breakaway regions, as the police statement made clear, the extremists in question were actually fighting “alongside” the pro-Russia separatists. The neo-Nazis fighting for Kiev in eastern Ukraine had magically morphed into pro-Russia militants aiding the separatist cause.
Giving the story this added element of mystery, the Italian police also altered their original statement on the weapons seizure, to wipe the phrase about the gang fighting “against” the separatists and watering it down simply to say that the extremists had been monitored “for having taken part in the armed conflict in the Donbass region.”
Official Italian police statement says the Nazis with the missiles fought “against [pro-Russian] separatists”. But BBC says the Italian Nazis fought *for* Russian-backed separatists.
— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled) July 15, 2019
Why exactly the police changed their original statement remains unclear, but it did give the BBC the perfect opportunity to quietly amend its false story, dumping the Russia link and replacing it with the more vague assertion that the extremists had simply taken part “in the conflict in eastern Ukraine,” echoing the altered police statement.
A Reuters update to its original story claiming the group was fighting “alongside” separatists now says that Italian police“declined to say”