Not everyone looks forward to Mondays.
The end of the weekend. That alarm which always comes too early. The coffee which never seems like enough to prepare you for the piles of work awaiting you after your stressful commute.
But for one Canadian journalist, Monday came with a much more unpleasant surprise.
Imagine how Guy Boulianne felt when he woke up last Monday, November 7, to find that he had been added to a hitlist. Yes, you read that correctly. He was added to a kill list.
It’s no secret that Ukraine’s so-called “Center to Control Disinformation” operates a database which publicizes the private information of thousands of journalists worldwide. The site, called “Mirotvorets” (also spelled “Myrotvorets”), means “Peacemaker” in Ukrainian. In the fascist lexicon, “peace” is “made” by killing anyone not in lockstep with Ukraine’s goals of securing a pure ethno-state purged of all untermenschen such as the Roma people, LGBTQ and the most hated minorities of all–“Moskals,” a Ukrainian slur for Russians.
Why would a Canadian journalist, from Quebec, be targeted by a country more than 7,000 kilometers away from where he lives? Boulianne believes he was selected for “liquidation” because he has written about Faina Savenkova, a 14-year-old girl from Lugansk who has also been added to Mirotvorets.
“You know,” Boulianne wrote in an article published in French, “there is something very abnormal when I see a ‘thumbs down’ 👎at the bottom of an article I published which simply mentions the first children’s congress, entitled ‘Children for Peace!’, the main purpose of which was to draw public attention to the increased supply of high-powered weapons to Ukrainian military personnel, which is why the small inhabitants of Donbass are suffering.”
“After all,” he continued, “not only enemy soldiers die, but also children. When I see this ‘thumb down’ 👎under this article, it means to me that the individual who did it is completely against the protection of children in the Donbass!”
Young Faina Savenkova was added to this hitlist, which is open to anyone who wants to see it online, at the age of 12, after she appeared before a UN security council in a video-taped message, in which she tried to bring awareness about the plight of civilians in Eastern Ukraine to the international body of lawmakers.
Because she lives in the breakaway Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), now claimed as Russian territory, and because she does not support the fascist-friendly regime in Kiev, the teenager is considered a “Russian separatist” and now also a “Russian propagandist”–which makes her, under Ukrainian law, an “info-terrorist” worthy of death.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice, a Russian human rights organization, has investigated Mirotvorets and publicized its crimes against humanity. A number of the more than 4,000 journalists added to the blacklist have already been “liquidated.” People such as Italian journalist Andrea Rocchelli, Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzyna, former Ukrainian MP Oleg Kalashnikov, and war correspondent Daria Dugina. All of them were added to the list and then murdered. Their profiles at Mirotvorets proudly confirm that fact in bold red letters: “Liquidated.”
Mirotvorets is an open-source website and NGO which publicizes a running list of “enemies of Ukraine,” or, as the website itself declares, those “whose actions show signs of crimes against Ukraine’s national security, peace, human security and international law.” In other words, having opinions counter to Ukraine’s official narratives, or opposing the Nazi-worshipping regime in Kiev, qualifies as such a threat under Ukrainian law.
The website, which was first launched in December 2014 by Ukrainian politician and activist Georgy Tuka, has remained online all this time despite repeated requests from the UN, G7 ambassadors, the EU and various human rights groups to shut it down. In 2018, the German Foreign Office asked the Ukrainian government to take the website down. In response, the Security Service of Ukraine issued a statement that Mirotvorets had not violated Ukrainian law.
On May 7, 2016, the website published the personal data of 4,508 journalists and other members of the international media who had either worked or been given permission to work in the Donbass region, thereby having “cooperated with terrorists” under Ukrainian law. Mirotvorets published their phone numbers, e-mail addresses, cities and countries of residence, information which was obtained by hacking the database of the Donetsk People’s Republic’s Ministry of State Security.
According to Yulia Gorbunova, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, the implications of this list for press freedom are serious and the very existence of such a list puts lives at risk. Then-President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, called the leak of people’s private information a “big mistake.” Now he, too, is listed at Mirotvorets where he is described as “an accomplice of Russian terrorists and invaders” and accused of “participation in the propaganda activities of Russia (the aggressor country) against Ukraine” as well as “participation in information operations of Russia (aggressor country) aimed at destroying evidence of the crimes of the Russian aggressor and his accomplices against Ukraine.”
The Mirotvorets Center also advises law enforcement “to consider this publication on the website as a statement about the commission by this citizen of deliberate acts against the national security of Ukraine, peace, security of mankind, and international law and order, and other offences.”
So… Speak your mind, do some time.
Or, maybe they’ll just execute you. It costs less than prison.
Orwell must be spinning in his grave.
“Should I be worried and feel in danger?” Boulianne wondered. “You have to be aware that there is a very large Ukrainian-Canadian community. According to the 2016 census, 1,359,655 Canadians (or 3.8% of the population) are of Ukrainian origin.”
Boulianne quotes Aidan Jonah, who wrote the following at The Canada Files: “Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s former foreign minister and current deputy prime minister knows all about the glorification of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. Freeland is also deeply connected to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the League of Ukrainian Canadians (LUC), which glorify the fascist Ukrainian Nationals Union group and Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. The UCC considers fascist Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, the fascist political and military leader of the Bandera faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, OUN, as one of Ukraine’s greatest national heroes. They both honor Yaroslav Stetsko, Bandera’s right-hand man, who said in his 1941 autobiography: ‘I therefore support the destruction of the Jews and the advisability of introducing the German methods of extermination of the Jews in Ukraine, preventing their assimilation and the like.’”
In 2014 and 2016, Boulianne writes, Freeland paraded and promoted the Toronto Ukrainian Festival , including the fundraising efforts of Right Sector Canada, a neo-Nazi group. Their goal was to buy military equipment for their fighters in Ukraine.
“If I were to suddenly disappear, you would know in which sector to begin your investigation,” the French-speaking journalist continued.
It’s ironic to note that the database was previously illegal under Ukrainian law. On May 10, 2016, Mirotvorets published the private information of journalists including reporters from AFP, Al Jazeera, LeMonde, BBC, Reuters and Forbes. That provoked an outcry from the international legal community which opposed the publication of personal data. Valeria Lutkovskaya, Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights, even released a statement that the database violates human rights and should be shut down. On may 13, 2016, there was an announcement that the website was closed. Six days later the database was back online and by May 20th, it had published an updated list of media members accredited for work in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). And Lutkovskaya was threatened with her resignation. Her term ended in 2017 and she was replaced.
Originally, the personal data of the “7500 terrorists, separatists and their accomplices” was collected by volunteers led by Georgy Tuka. By January 9, 2015, the website already had more than 9,000 entries. In fact, the first person named in the database was Eduard Matyukha, known as “the people’s mayor” in Gorlovka from 2014—2019. However, this “people’s mayor” turned out to be a Ukrainian spy, who was providing intelligence about Russian operations in the DPR directly to Kiev. Even his wife was unaware of his clandestine activities, according to one article. His addition to the list was nothing more than a psy-op, which, according to him, made him a hero in the two breakaway republics of Donbass.
Ukraine’s Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anton Gerashchenko is believed to have initiated Mirotvorets. Ironically, in 2019 Gerashchenko announced at a Free Speech Committee hearing, that he was named “journalist safety point person” by the Minister of Internal Affairs.
This “safety,” however, only applies to journalists supportive of Ukraine’s fascist-loving government. Any journalists with independent minds need not apply. Indeed, on August 16, 2016, the BBC reported on a statement made by the Mirotvorets Center on Facebook: “As of today, the website Myrotvorets.center and all its mirrors are considered electronic mass media.” And, as Radio Svoboda reported in 2017, after surviving an alleged assassination attempt, Gerashchenko vowed that Mirotvorets will never be taken down. “The ‘Mirotvorets’ project, which is like a bone in the throat of all of you, will work regardless of whether I am alive or not. And you will not be able to destroy it under any circumstances,” the Verkhovna Rada deputy wrote on Facebook on January 22.
One month prior, in December of 2016, the Mirotvorets database already included more than 100,000 records of individuals from around the world. All of them, including children as young as 9 years old, are considered “enemies of Ukraine” who should be “liquidated.”
Boulianne wrote that the Mirotvorets site is registered in his home country, Canada. “The server appears as NATO HPWS/2.1, when parsing from April 6 to April 22, 2015, it returned the address psb4ukr.nato.int as a reverse domain name, i.e. a subdomain of the official site of the NATO military bloc, while the main NATO domain, nato.int, knows nothing about it. The PTR record provided in response to a reverse DNS query typically points to a location of the site in the domain name space. The PTR record is entered into the master DNS zone file when the domain system is configured. Thus, the creators of the site specifically imitated the link to NATO.”
And, as I reported last month, the site is protected by Cloudflare, a company based in California. In fact, it receives funding from the United States, approved by U.S. Congress under HR7691, known as the “Additional Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022.” And despite appeals to the UN by human rights organizations such as the Schiller Institute, Mirotvorets remains.
On August 7, 2016, a lawyer from Kharkov named Aleksey Romanov revealed the name of the owner of the site, Oksana Sergeevna Tinko, who wrote on Facebook, “Yes, I took over the domains, because if something happens I have vast experience both in dealing with complaints about domains and with the closure of domains, I know this process from all sides and if something happens I can take adequate measures. And in case of any naughty person, I am ready to take the first blow and give the Peacekeepers time to solve the problem with minimal losses for themselves.” The quote and her account are no longer available on Facebook. Romanov received death threats immediately after naming Tinko as the site’s owner, and he complained to the UN.
And still, Mirotvorets remains.
It seems as though no one on the planet has the power, or the guts, to shut down this kill list even though it violates the law of every civilized country in the world, and people exposed on the list continue to be murdered.
I asked Boulliane if he had spoken to any authorities in Canada. It was a rhetorical question, as you probably know if you’ve read this far.
“I haven’t asked and I won’t ask, because I don’t have time to waste,” he replied with a smiley face 😊. “I consider that what protects me the most is to make the case public.”
Deborah Armstrong currently writes about geopolitics with an emphasis on Russia. She previously worked in local TV news in the United States where she won two regional Emmy Awards. In the early 1990’s, Deborah lived in the Soviet Union during its final days and worked as a television consultant at Leningrad Television.