Mira Terada, head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, interviewed Eva Bartlett, a Canadian independent journalist who observed the referendums on joining the territory of the Russian Federation in the Donbass. Bartlett thanked the Foundation to Batlte Injustice for its activities and told Mira Terada what acts of terror and repression the West is ready to commit, trying to silence journalists who have convinced themselves of the legitimacy of the referendum.
Mira Terada: Hello, Eva. Thank you for joining us today. You were one of the journalists who were covering the referendum in Donbass and now EU is planning sanctions against you and other journalists who were monitoring the referendum. In your opinion, what is the reason of these repressions?
Eva Bartlett: The West is trying its utmost to invalidate the results of the referendum and they’re targeting people who came here and who are giving voice to the people of the Donbass, the very people that Western politicians and media have deliberately ignored and obfuscated. On a personal note, I, over the course of five days, was visiting different areas of Donetsk, Makeevka, Gorlovka and other cities in the Donetsk People’s Republic. And everywhere I went, I saw a very orderly referendum taking place. People from the Voting Commission were going home to home, apartment to apartment, to enable people to vote from home.
And contrary to what the West was claiming, no guns were pointed to people’s heads. People were voting of their own volition. If they didn’t want to vote, they didn’t have to vote.
People expressed to me, I would ask them, “what do you think about the referendum”? And they would say to me, “we’ve been waiting for this for eight years”. This is a sentiment I heard over and over and over again, including after the referendum when I did subsequent interviews. This is what the West is trying to invalidate by attacking those people who came here to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears.
M.T.: It is reported that you may be added to the Interpol search list. What do you feel about it?
E.B.: It’s another intimidation tactic. And it just it just highlights Western hypocrisy. Western nations have been funding Ukraine, knowing that the funding and the weapons will go to Assad and Nazis, knowing that even aside from that, the arms that Ukraine is using on the people of Donetsk, come from the West. So, I’m here in Donetsk city, the very center of Donetsk is targeted all the time. There are no military targets here whatsoever.
By placing people who are giving voice to the people here, who’ve been terrorized throughout the Donbass for over eight years by Ukrainian shelling, by putting people like us on a watch list of Interpol list, they’re trying to intimidate anybody from continuing to support in any sense, to give voice in any sense to what people here are enduring.
And it is extremely hypocritical, as I was saying, because it is the West that should be put on the list. It’s the people who are funding Ukraine that should be put on lists, not the people who are reporting on Ukraine’s war crimes.
M.T.: What was reaction of other journalists when they heard about sanctions against you?
E.B.: Most journalists I know are well accustomed to these kinds of techniques, whether it’s being smeared relentlessly by corporate media, whether it’s being put on the Myrotvorets kill list or threatened with sanctions. So, on the one hand, it will impact them on a very personal level. They have to be very careful about where they travel, if they travel, if they have any funds abroad, moving those to a safe location. It will impact them on a personal level.
The journalists that I know or the people that came here to observe, they’re also very resilient people and they’re not going to be intimidated and shut up by these acts of terror, terrorism by the West.
M.T.: In your opinion, are these repressions politically motivated?
E.B.: They absolutely are. The West has never had an interest in a fair affair when it comes to the Donbass. They support solely the Ukrainian narrative. They fomented the coup in Ukraine and they supported the rise of this Nazi ideology in Ukraine. And conversely, they do everything in their power to silence any voices that go contrary to the narrative they’re pushing. So, it is very much a political act coming after journalist and elections or referendum observers.
M.T.: Is there a way to stop these illegal repressions against journalists and protect freedom of speech?
E.B.: I think that the more and more that the West is adding larger names like Roger Waters or various American politicians, Kim Dotcom, who has a large presence on Twitter, the more and more these names are added alongside journalists like myself and my colleagues, the more it’s going to bring attention to the fact that these different kill list and these different sanctions and repressive actions against us are occurring. And I think ultimately that will backfire against the West. But in the meantime, it’s things like what you’re doing, interviewing journalists, having solidarity with journalists, exposing what journalists and other people who are giving voice to the people here in the Donbass are enduring, I think that’s very important. I’m very grateful that you are doing this as well.