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19 Mar, 2024 15:52

Ukraine wants Australia to censor ‘pro-Putin’ documentary

ABC has defended the film that Kiev’s envoy, Vasily Myroshnychenko, denounced as a “bowl of vomit”
Ukraine wants Australia to censor ‘pro-Putin’ documentary

The Ukrainian ambassador to Canberra has demanded a meeting with the management of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation after it aired a documentary about the Ukraine conflict that wasn’t to his liking. 

On Monday evening, the ABC showed British filmmaker Sean Langan’s documentary ‘Ukraine’s War: The Other Side’, featuring Russian soldiers and civilians in the Donbass.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday morning, Ambassador Vasily Myroshnychenko called the program “the journalistic equivalent of a bowl of vomit” and claimed it “unquestioningly repeated and aired countless blatant lies, historical distortions, racist claims and propaganda narratives emanating from the Kremlin.”

The ABC “should be ashamed that it put such total garbage to air,” added Myroshnychenko, accusing Langan’s documentary of serving the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations chimed in as well, claiming the film featured “gross lies, hate and genocidal intentions” that caused them distress. The AFUO accused Langan of “fist-bumping, handshaking, hugging and smiling alongside Russian soldiers” and conducting “unchallenged interviews.”

Kiev’s ambassador demanded a meeting with the ABC management in order to “understand what process led to the airing of this pro-Putin and pro-violence propaganda piece” and “share with them the facts that the program totally disregarded.” 

Australia’s Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland reportedly forwarded Myroshnychenko’s request to the broadcaster.

ABC has publicly responded to Ukrainian protests by defending the documentary as an important contribution to understanding the conflict.

“Ukraine’s War: The Other Side is a challenging but legitimate documentary, made by reputable journalist Sean Langan and first aired last month on the UK’s ITV, that offers a rare insight into the lives of Russian soldiers during the war,” an ABC spokesperson said. “We believe Australian audiences also have the right to watch it and make up their own minds.”

Canberra has followed Washington’s lead in backing Kiev, sending more than $600 million of weapons and ammunition, including howitzers and Bushmaster armored vehicles. However, Australia has drawn the line at fighter jets and helicopters, choosing to decommission them instead.

Ukraine’s government has sought to crack down on any deviations from its narrative in the West about the conflict with Russia. In August 2022, Kiev attacked the US outlet CBS News over a report about some Western military aid going missing. The outlet quickly caved and deleted its documentary.