DC_Draino: ‘Why are We Sending $$ to a Country That Imprisons Americans for Free Speech?’
By Investment Watch Blog
State Department Pleads Fifth When Asked About American Detained in Ukraine
American YouTuber and columnist Gonzalo Lira was arrested in Ukraine at the start of May because he “publicly justified” the Russian invasion, according to a press release by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). The statement says that Lira “has the citizenship of one of the countries of Latin America” but omits that he is also California-born U.S. citizen.
Lira is a resident of Kharkiv, Ukraine and was an outspoken critic of the nation’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Lira has written financial columns, published in Business Insider and even here at ZeroHedge. His Twitter account is still up, and a brief look reveals that — whether you agree with him or not on all stances — his opinions are largely in line with much of the American right. The SBU claimed to have confiscated “mobile phones and a computer with evidence of illegal activity” from Lira’s apartment but no such evidence was made public.
Lira has been charged under sections 2 and 3 of Article 436-2 of Ukraine’s criminal code, which was augmented at the start of the invasion to criminalize the “distribution of materials” that justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine going back to 2014. The law specifically outlaws portraying any military dispute “financed by [the] Russian Federation” in Ukraine as an “internal civil conflict,” a law The New York Times and Wired Magazine are in violation of.
The Ukrainian government has frequently claimed that the violent conflicts in the Donbas region — which killed over 10,000 people between 2014 and 2020 — were financed and armed by the Russians. However, a former NATO official in charge of investigating arms shipments into the Donbas from 2014 to 2018 found that “there were no deliveries of weapons and military equipment from Russia” and instead that most arms were smuggled by defecting Ukrainian soldiers. This official could have been imprisoned under Article 436-2 as well.
Lira faces up to 13 years in prison if he is convicted of both charges.
Of course, American journalists are not as indignant over Lira’s arrest as they are over that of Evan Gershkovich, the WSJ reporter being detained in Russia. Federal Reserve minion Nick Timairos did not change his Twitter profile to signal “solidarity” with Lira.
Biden did not praise Lira’s “absolute courage” for speaking against the regime which he lived under nor does it appear the administration has any intent of negotiating his release, two actions it has taken on behalf of Gershkovich.
Daily Beast was the sole mainstream outlet to cover Lira and only did so to slander him.
Each of these individuals was imprisoned for speech and speech alone. Holding a principle in favor of freedom of expression would require standing up for these writers equally. Given the leverage we have over Ukraine, securing the release of Lira would not take so much as a phone call.
Stil, when asked about whether the Biden State Department was aware of Lira’s arrest and if they are working to get him freed, newly appointed spokesperson Mathew Miller said the department is aware of the matter but went no further:
State Department refuses to say whether it will negotiate with Zelensky for the release of detained U.S. citizen Gonzalo Lira: pic.twitter.com/jTD58XjYnw
— Liam Cosgrove (@cosgrove_iv) May 28, 2023
Responding to the news, @mtgreenee said, “America is providing weapons, equipment for the defense of their country, but the Ukrainian government is not going to defend any American’s freedom of speech.” pic.twitter.com/2HVmNQTGG6
— Liam Cosgrove (@cosgrove_iv) May 28, 2023
‘Red Pill’ Dating Coach Gonzalo Lira, Accused of Shilling for Putin, Is Arrested in Ukraine
Gonzalo Lira, a prolific online personality who became an outspoken supporter of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, had his home in Kharkiv raided by the security services.
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) has arrested Gonzalo Lira—a dual citizen of the United States and Chile, who has been living in Kharkiv—on charges of producing pro-Russian propaganda.
Lira, a prolific and controversial online personality, is accused of creating and disseminating materials that justify Putin’s armed aggression against Ukraine. He is facing the possibility of being imprisoned for five to eight years.
Lira, a former online dating coach, was arrested on May 1 at his residence in Kharkiv, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. Ukrainian authorities claim that the search of his home revealed additional evidence of his unlawful activities, including data found on his cell phone and his computer.
The SBU announced on Friday that an unnamed foreign blogger had been arrested and the Kharkiv prosecutor’s office posted a blurred video of Lira on its YouTube channel. The Daily Beast has obtained a longer version of the footage, which shows the arrest and raid on his home.
Lira was charged under article 436-2 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code, parts 2 and 3, pertaining to wartime propaganda. He will remain in jail as the case moves forward, and an active investigation is still underway.
An SBU spokesperson said that after the start of the full-scale invasion, “the blogger was one of the first to support the Russian invaders and glorify their war crimes… Additionally, in his comments he disputed the details of Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and mass murders of civilians.”
Lira is a blogger, who made a transitionfrom offering sleazy “dating coach” advice to men as “Coach Red Pill,” to providing propaganda fodder for the Russian state media that eagerly picked up and disseminated his multiple dispatches from Ukraine. In his videos, Lira insulted the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, and described Ukrainians defending their land from Russian invaders as “armed criminals.” Ukrainian authorities allege that Lira filmed Ukrainian soldiers, making a specific effort to capture their likeness and attempting to discredit their military service.
Lira also charted his efforts to follow American reporters covering the conflict in Ukraine, describing them as “system pig journalists” and revealing their whereabouts in specific hotels. Lira commented: “They’re here to report how they led Ukraine up the garden path and now Ukraine is f’d! These are the people pushing the narrative, so you can see them. See them real good!”
American journalist Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, who is currently serving in Ukraine’s Armed Forces, said she is slated to be one of the witnesses in the criminal case against Lira. She told The Daily Beast, “This justice has been a long time coming. Obviously, when I was accused by Maria Zakharova and the Russian MFA of being complicit in Gonzalo Lira’s disappearance last year, it set off a lynch mob of his supporters accusing me of murder. His arrest this week shows that Ukrainian officials don’t bow to popular pressure when a factual investigation leads to the truth.”
Ashton-Cirillo added, “I’ve already given my sworn statement to SBU about Gonzalo Lira several months ago and expect to be called as a witness in his prosecution.”
Lira blamed Ukraine for being attacked by Russia, describing the ongoing war as “one of the most brilliant invasions in military history.” He defended Putin’s motives, claiming that the Russians were taking special pains to avoid damaging civilian infrastructure or harming civilians and predicting that Ukraine would flourish under Russia’s control.
He disseminated a number of debunked conspiracy theories, including Russian allegations of locating “American bioweapons labs” in Ukraine. Sources involved in the investigation say that Lira’s appearance on The Donbass Devushka’s show prompted additional scrutiny of Lira’s activities, which were being monitored after his questioning and release last year.
The online personality posted a slew of videos and commentary on YouTube, Telegram, and Twitter, attempting to pin the blame on Ukraine for the strikes conducted by the Russian Federation. Russian state TV touted his video blogs as valuable reporting by an unbiased observer, featuring them on various shows and praising his efforts. Lira’s YouTube and Telegram following exceeded a combined 300,000 subscribers.