January 7, an article about the Azov Regiment was published on the website of the American edition TIME. The authors of this article, violating basic journalistic standards, committed obvious provocations, manipulations, and sometimes outright lies and slander against the Azov Movement. Numerous fabrications and distortions of the facts scattered throughout this text allow to classify it as a counterpart of mass Russian propaganda aimed at discrediting “Azov” and National Corps, the only difference being that TIME disguises its slander as a journalistic investigation.
In their text, Simon Shuster and Billy Perrigo have allowed themselves to stoop to the level of accusing “Azov” of recruiting and training far-right terrorists.
““Azov”, through its online propaganda, has fueled a global ideology of hate that now inspires more terrorist attacks in the U.S. than Islamic extremism does and is a growing threat throughout the Western world,” is the letmotif of the authors.
In order to prove obvious incompetence and bias of the article by TIME, we analyze the main examples of lies in it. We also draw your attention to the official statement of the Azov Regiment on the information provocation by TIME’s journalists.
One of the main characters of the article is Norwegian Joachim Furholm, whom the authors of the text repeatedly call the “recruiter” of “Azov.” This statement is completely untrue. Moreover, the authors of the article wrote this lie deliberately, for they had a comment from the authorized persons of the Azov Movement about the person of Furholm. However, there is no such comment in the article.
Instead, the text states that “…in the summer of 2018, Azov’s political wing allowed him to use one of its cottages outside Kyiv as a hostel for foreign fighters.” In fact, Joachim Furholm came to Ukraine on his own. Members of the Azov Movement helped him to solve temporarily the housing problem at the request of a journalist from Hromadske who told them about a Norwegian guy who allegedly had no place to stay and was beaten up by the police. After that, Furholm himself expressed a desire to join the Azov Regiment, but was refused due to a lack of military skills, training and discipline.
It means that Furholm did not have and could not have any authority in the Azov Movement, i.a. he could not perform the functions of a recruiter of foreign volunteers, because he has never been a part of “Azov.”
It should be added that the Azov Regiment is an official unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, and, therefore, under the Ukrainian legislation, cannot have a “political wing” or “its own political party,” as stated in the article.
Another character of TIME’s article is a US citizen Shawn Fuller, who, according to the authors, was “recruited” to the Azov Movement by Joachim Furholm. Fuller himself served only in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and has never had anything to do with the Azov Movement.
Thus, all the statements by the authors are based solely on an occasional acquaintance of two unrelated to “Azov” foreigners in Ukraine. And only from this statement Shuster and Perrigo develop an entire theory about the involvement of “Azov” in mass recruitment of foreign nationals into the ranks of the “terrorist organization” for the purpose of military training of future far-right terrorists.
The authors cite an opinion of Ali Soufan, a former FBI employee and now a lobbyist and an ardent fighter against “far-right extremism,” about 17,000 foreign volunteers from 50 countries who have arrived in Ukraine in the past six years. The authors are not even bothered by the fact that it would be easy to form several regiments like “Azov” from this fantastic figure.
In Ukraine, any recruitment, training, financing, and use of foreigners to commit violence and overthrow the constitutional order or to take part in armed conflicts is tantamount to mercenary activity and is punishable by 10 years of imprisonment under Article 447 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine on mercenary activity.
Accordingly, in order to extradite any foreigner from Ukraine to the homeland, in particular to the United States, it is enough to apply formally to the competent authorities of the country, if one has reasonable suspicions. But Ukraine has not received such requests – apparently, the FBI has no particular reason to share the fabrications of TIME’s authors. On the contrary, in the fall of 2019, the US State Department, in response to a request from a group of congressmen, refused to recognize “Azov” as a terrorist organization.
We also have no evidence that the US authorities have ever accused Ukraine of financing terrorism or any other involvement in terrorist activities.
Moreover, one of the tasks of the National Guard of Ukraine, which includes the Azov Regiment, is the fight against terrorism. And “Azov” has indeed performed these tasks since the very beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which in the period from April 14, 2014 to April 30, 2018 was even called the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO).
Terrorism, according to the Oxford Political Dictionary, is an illegal use of violence and intimidation, including of civilians, to achieve a political goal. It should be recalled that the main activities of the Azov Regiment and other units of the NGU and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are aimed at restoring the constitutional order in the occupied by Russia territories of the Donbas.
From all the aforementioned facts, it follows that TIME journalists are absolutely unfamiliar with the Ukrainian legislation, and also openly manipulate, having surpassed in this even the Russian propaganda machine. We consider it necessary to draw the public’s attention to this defamatory provocation and remind it that Russia uses all possible methods of a hybrid warfare against our country, including by influencing the media of other countries.