KYIV BLOG: bne attacked in Ukraine govt-backed newspaper

By bne IntelliNews December 19, 2013

Ben Aris in Moscow -

bne has hit the big time in Ukraine. On December 17 bne came in for a roasting by Kryvda.com, a Ukrainian publication which our Kyiv correspondent says is backed by the clan of President Viktor Yanukovych to rubbish critical press, especially the very highly respected Ukrainska Pravda, the bastion of investigative and liberal journalism in Ukraine. We at bne are proud to be thrown into the same bin as one of the true pillars of the fourth estate in eastern Europe.

One of bne roles is as a market-oriented business, economics and politics publication. Our articles are regularly translated into the local language of the countries we cover and published on local news sites. For example, one piece we wrote in recently about the looming danger of a devaluation of the local currency was widely reposted in Ukraine and the central bank complained that it could contribute to destabilizing the hryvna.

However, this article on kryvda.com by the extremely oddly named Yuri McGuffey (a Scottish-Ukrainian journalist?) levels several bizarre accusations at bne staff. It went on to accuse our publication of being paid to write about companies and topics, but failed to demonstrate how this was true.

Reading a few lines and it is clear that Mr McGuffey spent about five minutes researching the story, as there are some major clangers that a rooky hack would not make following five minutes of research. For example, the article says that I live in Ukraine, when our website says clearly that I live in Russia (and is also obvious from my phone number). It also accuses that our head of business, Elena Arbuzova, "certainly has British roots." (She was born in Kazakhstan and is as Russian as a Russian can get).

And I could go on. Read the piece as it should have been submitted to The Onion and not a pretend serious paper.

However, the piece underlines the distance Ukraine has to go to attain those European values that the protestors in Maidan aspire to, and the crass and mendacious nature of the ruling elite. The blunt nature of this sort of propaganda testifies to a blunt stupidity and ineptitude that is frightening when you consider these sort of people run the country.

So next time Mr McGuffey wants to write about us, I invite him to do what journalists do: call me up and ask me any question he likes about what we do, where we get our journalists and how we make our money. It's not that hard, but that is the way the press works... or at least how is should work.

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