Shortly after journalist Roman Protasevich was arrested in Belarus onboard a Ryanair passenger plane diverted by Minsk, reviews linking the dissident to neo-Nazi teams Started To seem on-line.
The tales have been initially revealed in Russian-language media and shortly unfold in dozens of languages.
Photographs of youthful males doing Nazi salutes or sporting SS insignia began to pop up on social media, falsely claiming To level out Protasevich in his youthfuler yrs, Based mostly on AFP information agency.
The journalist was additionally alleged to have fought alongside “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine Inside the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
In accordance to Euvsdisinfo.eu — An internet website of The eu Union’s overseas service set As a lot as counter alleged Russian disinformation — the claims are a deliberate try at Protasevich’s on-line denigration.
“For expert-Kremlin retailers, such messages assist to kill two birds with one stone: not solely to discredit the jailed Belarusian dissident However in addition to perpetuate the narrative of ‘Nazi Ukraine’,” it said.
Journalist or soldier?
In an interview final yr, Protasevich admitted spending A whereas with Ukrainian paraarmy models in japanese Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
Many posts say he fought with the Azov battalion, A pair of of whose troopers have been acknowledged to harbour white supremacist and neo-Nazi views.
Some on-line claims about Protasevich additionally include photos of a youthful man bearing resemblance to him in a army uniform, typically surrounded by troopers sporting the insignia of the Azov battalion.
In completely different footage, He is brandishing a Kalashnikov rifle and smiling for the digital camera.
AFP information agency says it has not been In a place to confirm that Protasevich was The particular person on these footage.
Protasevich’s household, colleagues and even some Azov fighters insist that he was in Ukraine solely as a journalist, Even when he was embedded with Ukrainian forces.
“Roman was certainly Collectively with Azov and completely different army models that fought in the direction of the occupation of Ukraine, although his weapon as a journalist wasn’t an automated rifle However the written phrase,” wrote Azov commander Andriy Biletsky on his Telegram channel.
Other footage falsely purporting to painting Protasevich doing Nazi salutes or sporting SS insignia circulated on-line, says AFP.
Konstantin Akhromalesko, a youthful Belarusian, conagencyed his id to AFP and said The picture was taken “10-12 yrs in the past”.
“We have been by no means Nazis. We took such photos Only for laughs as a Outcome of the Belarusian state propaganda referred to as us Nazis,” said.
Equally, The particular person Inside the SS helmet turned out to be not Protasevich but Eduard Lobov, a former Belarusian political prisoner who turned a volunteer fighter in japanese Ukraine.