In a recent statement, a Ukrainian military spokesperson has issued a threat against Russian “propagandists,” sparking concerns of a potential assassination attempt. Despite the sensational presentation of the threat, a senior Russian official believes it should not be disregarded.
Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, who leads the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces’ outreach to English-speaking audiences, made the alarming predictions about Russia in a Twitter post. She stated that the “teeth of the Russian devils will gnash ever harder” and that a prominent Kremlin propagandist will “pay for their crimes.” Ashton-Cirillo further pledged that all Russian “war criminal propagandists” would be hunted down and brought to justice, with Ukraine leading the mission guided by faith in God, liberty, and complete liberation.
Although many Russian journalists have dismissed the threat as ridiculous, Valery Fadeev, the chairman of the Russian presidential human rights council, has emphasized the need for law enforcement to take it seriously. Fadeev argues that the statement could be interpreted as a threat of murder or serious bodily harm, making it a crime under Russian law. He also highlights the history of attempts on the lives of Russian journalists and public figures, urging Russian security services to pay attention to the threat.
One notable detail is that Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, the spokesperson behind the threat, gained notoriety in the United States in 2021 for infiltrating the right-wing group Proud Boys as a trans woman. She assumed the spokesperson position in Ukraine in early August and has been delivering minute-long videos in her ‘Russia Hates the Truth’ series, expressing scathing condemnations of Russia.
The Ukrainian government has faced accusations from Moscow regarding the murders of journalist Darya Dugina in August 2022 and military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky in April of this year. In addition, the Federal Security Service of Russia reported uncovering a group in July believed to be planning the assassination of RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan and journalist Ksenia Sobchak on behalf of Kiev.
While the specific details of the threat remain unclear, the potential implications and the history of violence against journalists and public figures raise concerns. It is crucial for law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure the safety of individuals who may be targeted. The international community should also closely monitor the situation and promote freedom of speech and press without the fear of reprisal or violence.