And now it turns out the Ukraine referendum too was hacked by the Russians

Never before have so many riddles in the world been solved in such a short time. The election of Trump and the defeat of Hillary? Let nobody think that this was a matter of voter discontent, oh no. Were people responsive to a candidate who instead of spending trillions on overseas wars, wanted to shore up the infrastructure and employment in the US itself? No way, it was all directed from Moscow! The same with Brexit, the rise of rightwing populism in France and elsewhere, all so easy to explain. Putin! 

On top of it all it has now been revealed that the Dutch Ukraine referendum of 6 April last, was also manipulated by the Russians. The man who was the unwitting tool in this operation, is pictured above—the retiring Socialist Party MP, Harry van Bommel. Or at least, if we are to believe the New York Times.

The NYT report on the referendum revolves around the term 'fake news', a term that these days no longer can be avoided. I expect that sooner rather than later all sides in the argument will come to agree that the adoption of this term has been a disastrous development. The report in the New York Times is itself a striking example of that.

From now on, a different opinion on anything is a thing of the past. There is news (official news, the truth) and fake news. But those who doubt the official news, will call that fake news' in turn, and so any dialogue is made impossible.

In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 the New York Times published a series of reports that were distorted or made up entirely, thus massaging public opinion into supporting what so far is the greatest crime of the century. On 8 November 2001 the paper reported that an Iraqi general had attended training sessions for plane hijackers. Later it turned out this had been made up by the Iraqi exile, Ahmed Chalabi, the confidante of the neocons who were preparing the invasion. All subsequent false reports that were to clear the way for the invasion, such as that about Iraqi negotiations with al-Qaeda in Prague, the purchase of uranium oxide ('yellowcake') in Niger by Saddam Hussein's regime, the 'information', obtained by torture, that Iraq was training terrorists in the use of chemical weapons, were all durifully reported by the New York Times instead of being checked.

On 8 September 2002 the paper reported that Saddam was attempting to buy aluminium tubes for uranium enrichment, warning not to wait for proof: that might come in the form of a mushroom cloud. And so on and so forth.

Now, the report on the Ukraine referendum, undoubtedly a farewell gift to Harry van Bommel, who had his goodbye event on Thursday 16 February. Even before the actual 'fake news' is dished up, one inaccuracy follows another. The referendum was supposedly about a 'trade pact', but trade is of course a EU competence. The Dutch could only speak out on the political implciations of the treaty, which among other things includes provisions on political-military cooperation and standardisation (articles 4, 7, and 10).

Still according to the paper, Van Bommel was to have mobilised a team of Ukrainian opponents of ratification, demonstrating that not all Ukrainians were in favour of the treaty. After all, day in day out, Ukrainian sports figures and youth were paraded in the media who asked for our support, but the NYT does not deem that fact worthy of mention.

On the other hand, the New York Times has seen the Van Bommel team in action everywhere, in the media and in the country. It also happens to know that its members were actually Russians OR Russian-speaking Ukrainians (a minor difference: more than half of Ukraine is Russian-speaking). I toured the country for weeks for the No campaign of our group, OorlogIsGeenOplossing, and have only seen one Ukrainian woman (at the launch of the Socialist Party campaign where I had been invited to say a few words) and once also a Russian lady, who was silent for the entire evening (in Utrecht). Can she have been among 'the most active members of the Ukrainian team who actually were from Russia'—? But then, I have not seen any NYT reporters either, and they of course have their own sources.

The New York Times cites the Dutch daily, De Volkskrant, that the Russians are also targeting the Dutch elections of 15 March. But mind you, that paper is on the same anti-'Putin' page.

Summing up: arguments against the Association Treaty are not arguments but rely on 'fake news'. The people who voted against therefore did not have arguments either, but had been misled by the team of Harry van Bommel which was 'active everywhere' (never mind nobody saw them).

When elections or referendums have an outcome other than 'business as usual', the explanation is simple. Fake news, Russian hacks, and Kremlin propaganda teams. All with the compliments of Vladimir Putin.

Kees van der Pijl

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