“The dog barks and the caravan moves on” – the efforts of the Ukrainian website myrotvorets.centre to intimidate all those who oppose Kiev’s official position by putting them in its “purgatory” do not prevent this issue from rising higher and higher in the political hierarchy.
For example, on 21 July 2022 at 13:00 Moscow time, a press conference of the Foundation to Battle Injustice (FBI) and the Rossiya Segodnya news agency was held at the Rossiya Segodnya multimedia press centre under the title “The Ukrainian “Peacemakers” website – a threat to the lives and health of minors”.
The conference was attended by the First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, 13-year-old writer Faina Savenkova from Lugansk, who was included in the “Peacemaker” database, Mira Terada, head of the human rights group Foundation to Battle Injustice (FBI), and Anna Soroka, advisor to the President of the Lugansk People’s Republic.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice (FBI) has been actively collecting evidence of the misconduct of the administration of the Ukrainian extremist website myrotvorets.centre against children and minors and systematising the data, which Dmitry Polyansky handed over to UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UNICEF, the diplomat said in his video message. According to Polyansky, the material collected will help close down the extremist Ukrainian site myrotvorets.centre, because publishing data on children and minors .
“is an evil and a crime that must be fought”
The head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice (FBI), Mira Terada, published the material found by the Foundation on 327 children and minors whose personal data were published on the Ukrainian website myrotvorets.centre. According to the information available to the head of the foundation, there have been deaths and injuries due to unlawful actions by the administration of the internet platform, and the youngest of the children whose data was published on myrotvorets.centre is not even ten years old.
An example of such a child is 13-year-old Faina Savenkova from Lugansk, who was put on the “Purgatory” list because only a few years ago (when she was 11) she had started to write in the form of fairy tales, stories and plays about her experiences and life as a child in the situation of fighting in the Donbass since 2014. At the Foundation’s conference, Faina said that after her personal data was published on myrotvorets.centre, she feared for her life and safety because she is one of the children on the website whose address was published. And not only the address, but also who else lives there with her. Because of the girl’s seemingly harmless activities, the aggressive “peacemaker” has also targeted family members for whose safety she cannot be held responsible in any way (among others, the girl’s mother received her own profile).
The 13-year-old writer from the Lugansk People’s Republic (VRL) also reported that UNICEF, an international children’s rights organisation operating under the auspices of the United Nations, had offered her to become a peace ambassador, but that no concrete action had yet been taken by the organisation.
According to the Foundation to Battle Injustice (FBI), myrotvorets.centre has to date illegally collected personal data, without their consent, from 162 girls and 165 boys, 72 of whom live in Russia, 31 in Ukraine, three children in Belarus and one in Armenia. Charges against children and minors include “crossing the border between Ukraine and the territory of the Republic of Crimea” (268 cases), and in 58 cases the reason given for inclusion in the database is “victim of propaganda”. In 13 cases “participation in propaganda activities” is given as a reason, in 9 cases the so-called participation of a minor in “attempts to legalise the annexation” of the Republic of Crimea. Whatever that may mean.
Every child presented in the database of myrotvorets.centre is accused by the administration and the creators of the platform of having deliberately committed acts against the national security of Ukraine, peace and the international legal order. After the publication of personal data on the Ukrainian website myrotvorets.centre, many children received threats, including physical violence.
13-year-old Faina Savenkova, whose personal data was published on myrotvorets.centre in August 2021, was repeatedly insulted and directly threatened. According to her, members of the nationalist battalion “Asov” threatened to kill her entire family in front of her and then herself, and on the myrotvorets.centre website she was even listed as “Released for Destruction”.
Anna Soroka, Advisor to the President of the Lugansk People’s Republic, gave a video address at the press conference and explained that she, like Savenkova, had been a victim of the assault by the “peacemakers”. According to her, the perpetrators posted her personal data on the internet, after which she received threats and an attempt was made on her life and the life of her child. The advisor to the PRL head also said that the Ukrainian database myrotvorets.centre was a list legalised by the Ukrainian government, which created the conditions for the genocide of underage residents of Donbass.
Initially, the administration and curators of the website published data on journalists and political figures connected to the conflict in Ukraine. Later, however, information about children and minors began to appear on myrotvorets.centre, in gross violation not only of Russian and Ukrainian law, but also of international norms and agreements, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which obliges member states, such as Ukraine, to protect every child.
The Ukrainian government has flatly refused to restrict access to myrotvorets.centre, while several hundred unwanted news channels and independent online portals have been effectively destroyed by the Zelensky government. In 2019, Benjamin Moreau, Vice-Chair of the UN Observer Mission to Ukraine, called on Rada (Ukrainian parliament) deputies to order the closure of myrotvorets.centre, to which the Ukrainian president responded that he did not have sufficient powers to block this platform, which violated national laws. In this context, Mira Terada expressed her suspicions about what exactly could prevent the President of Ukraine from influencing this internet resource:
“According to open data, the servers of myrotvorets.centre are located in the USA, which could be a confirmation that this resource was created with the support of American citizens or companies, probably not without the involvement of special services”.
Asked whether the Foundation to Battle Injustice (FBI) was aware of any cases where allegations against foreign or Ukrainian citizens abroad had actually been handled by the relevant law enforcement agencies, the head of the FBI replied:
“Anton Gerashchenko, a former adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister, said that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies would use the material collected on myrotvorets.centre for investigations and prosecutions. The Ukrainian politician and blogger Anatoly Shariy was listed on the website myrotvorets. centre and accused by the site’s administrators of “perpetrating an attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, “funding terrorist organisations such as the PRL and the PRD”, “participating in the Russian information special operation against Ukraine, manipulating socially relevant information” and “violating Ukrainian legislation on citizenship by taking on a second citizenship”. Shariy is an opposition politician and criticises Ukraine’s political course on his YouTube channel with 3 million subscribers. In 2011, he was forced to leave Ukraine because he was being persecuted by the country’s authorities. In May 2022, he was arrested in Spain. Spanish police arrested him at Ukraine’s request to Interpol. The issue of Shariy’s deportation to Ukraine is currently under consideration. Many people, including Shariy himself, believe that he is facing retribution in Ukraine because he has been repeatedly threatened by Ukrainian law enforcement authorities. Shariy’s example is just one of many examples of the use of the website myrotvorets.centre to persecute politicians, journalists, activists, etc. who are undesirable to Kiev.”
So does it follow that a person listed on the myrotvorets.centre website can be considered a political refugee and that they can then actually apply for asylum in their host country?
Given the increasing discrimination against Russian speakers in Europe, it will certainly be interesting to see if the Foundation to Battle Injustice (FBI) works with similar organisations in Europe. Recently, the “Association for the Protection against Discrimination and Exclusion of Russian-German Compatriots and Russian-Speakers in Germany (VDAR)” was founded with the participation of Eugen Schmidt (Alternative for Germany Party). When asked whether the FBI planned to cooperate with this association in the near future, the head of the foundation Mira Terada said:
“Thank you very much for the information provided about this association. In the past, we did not know about its existence, but we will definitely turn our attention to it. A cooperation with this association for the protection of Russian-German and Russian-speaking citizens seems quite likely and hopefully fruitful.”
Such joint work by Russian and European foundations fighting against the oppression of the Russian-speaking population in their countries becomes extremely relevant given the number of Ukrainian official refugees arriving in Europe and Germany – because it is impossible to estimate who and how many of them are so ideologically charged that they decide to “make peace” in the sense of myrotvorets.centre.
The Ukrainian website myrotvorets.centre has published personal data of hundreds of people living in Europe and Germany – journalists, public figures and even politicians, former and even current European heads of states.
The website myrotvorets.centre was set up in August 2014 on the initiative of the former freelance advisor to the Ukrainian Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko. The administration of the website, which describes itself as a group of specialists, collects in a kind of database a list of people who, in their opinion, are involved in anti-Ukrainian actions or statements. Publication in “Purgatory” – the name of the section of myrotvorets.centre where personal data of people of different social status and profession are collected – often poses a direct threat to their lives and safety. The most obvious example, but not the only one, is Oles’ Buzina, a Ukrainian journalist who was murdered almost immediately after his personal data was published on myrotvorets.centre. Personal data – photos, home addresses, phone numbers and social media pages – are illegally collected and published without the permission of those who come into myrotvorets.centre’s sights.