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PBS gives Ukrainian Nazi platform to dehumanize Russians as ‘cockroaches’

US government-sponsored outlet PBS heroized neo-Nazi extremist Artem Semenikhin, the mayor of Ukraine’s city Konotop, in a softball interview in which he called Russians “cockroaches.” It didn’t mention the “heil Hitler” symbol on his car or his portrait of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

PBS Ukraine Nazi Artem Semenikhin cockroaches
Neo-Nazi extremist Artem Semenikhin, mayor of Ukraine's city of Konotop, thanks the US for sending him and his fascist fighters weapons, in a PBS interview

US government-sponsored media outlet PBS gave a massive platform to a notorious Ukrainian neo-Nazi, portraying him as a freedom fighter as he dehumanized Russians as “cockroaches” and praised Washington for sending weapons to him and fellow far-right extremist fighters.

This neo-Nazi Ukrainian politician was also eagerly promoted by the New York Times, The Guardian, CIA-linked Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, and other prominent Western media outlets.

This March, PBS NewsHour sat down for a softball interview with Artem Semenikhin, the mayor of Ukraine’s northern city of Konotop.

The US state-backed broadcaster did not mention that Semenikhin is part of a neo-fascist political party and drives a car with the neo-Nazi symbol 14/88, which combines the white-supremacist “14 words” slogan with code for “Heil Hitler.”

In fact, on the wall behind him in the PBS interview, Semenikhin had a portrait of Ukraine’s infamous fascist leader Stepan Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany and led the extreme-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which helped Adolf Hitler carry out the Holocaust by massacring Jews, Poles, and communists.

Yet the portrait of Bandera was curiously blurred out in the PBS video.

In a report published on March 3, PBS’ foreign affairs and defense correspondent, Nick Schifrin, interviewed Semenikhin.

Schifrin depicted the Ukrainian neo-Nazi mayor as a hero for resisting Russian soldiers and kicking them out of his city.

“Do you fear they will come back and either occupy or try and destroy the city?” Schifrin asked in the softball interview.

Semenikhin replied, “We are not afraid. We are ready to fight until the end, until the victorious end, to defeat these Russian cockroaches.”

Instead of commenting on his dehumanizing, Nazi-esque rhetoric toward Russians, the PBS correspondent applauded Semenikhin for “rall[ying] his troops, civilians, ready to resist.”

The Ukrainian neo-Nazi mayor concluded the segment holding up an assault rifle and stating, “Thanks to the United States of America for supporting Ukraine with weapons. My weapon is American. And I think the occupiers will be pleased that we’re killing them with American weapons.”

PBS Ukraine Nazi Artem Semenikhin cockroaches

Neo-Nazi extremist Artem Semenikhin, mayor of Ukraine’s city of Konotop, thanks the US for sending him and his fascist fighters weapons, in a PBS interview

The PBS NewsHour report did not provide any information about Artem Semenikhin and his political background.

Semenikhin is a member of the neo-fascist Svoboda party, which played a key role in the violent US-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014, which overthrew the country’s democratically elected government for not being sufficiently anti-Russian.

The fact that Semenikhin is a Nazi is well known, and has been acknowledged by mainstream media outlets.

The Jerusalem Post published an article back in December 2015 titled “Local Jews in shock after Ukrainian city of Konotop elects neo-Nazi mayor.”

The newspaper noted that Konotop residents were “expressing shock and dismay over the behavior of newly chosen Mayor Artem Semenikhin of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party.”

Jerusalem Post Konotop Ukraine mayor Nazi

The Jerusalem Post reported:

Semenikhin drives around in a car bearing the number 14/88, a numerological reference to the phrases “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” and “Heil Hitler”; replaced the picture of President Petro Poroshenko in his office with a portrait of Ukrainian national leader and Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera; and refused to fly the city’s official flag at the opening meeting of the city council because he objected to the star of David emblazoned on it. The flag also features a Muslim crescent and a cross.

Svoboda, known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine until 2004, has been accused of being a neo-Nazi party by Ukrainian Jews and while party leaders have a history of making anti-Semitic remarks, their rhetoric has toned down considerably over the past years as they attempted to go mainstream.

In a follow-up article in 2019, the Times of Israel noted that Semenikhin is “known for his neo-Nazi views.”

In 2019, Semenikhin posted a photo on his personal Instagram account of himself in a military uniform, doing the three-finger salute of the fascist Svoboda party.

He was photographed next to Ukrainian neo-Nazi Oleh Tyahnybok, the leader of Svoboda, who is infamous for doing Hitler salutes and declaring that the country is run by a so-called “Moscow-Jewish mafia” that must be purged.

artem semenikhin svoboda Oleh Tyahnybok

In 2018, Semenikhin published another photo on Instagram of himself holding a rifle and fighting on the frontlines against Russian-speaking Ukrainians in 2014. Again he can be seen doing the three-finger salute of Svoboda.

artem semenikhin svoboda instagram

There are many similar photos of Semenikhin on his Instagram account. He makes no secret of his close ties with neo-fascist parties in Ukraine.

Yet many Western media outlets joined PBS in promoting Semenikhin and amplifying the neo-Nazi’s call for Ukrainian civilians to take up arms against Russia.

US government-funded propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which was founded by the CIA to disseminate disinformation against the former Soviet Union, portrayed Semenikhin as a hero.

Top US newspaper the New York Times glorified Semenikhin as well. Like PBS, it did not mention his blatant Nazi views.

The Ukrainian Nazi was also promoted by The Guardian, Sky News, the Daily Mail, and more.

Getty Images News promotes propaganda photo of Ukrainian Nazi

This was far from the only time that Western media outlets actively promoted neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

Numerous major news publications helped spread propaganda staged by Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov militia.

On March 6, the news service of the photo licensing website Getty Images also boosted fascist Ukrainian propaganda.

On Twitter, Getty Images News shared a photo of a Ukrainian far-right militant evacuating civilians.

Getty Images News referred to the man simply as a “Ukrainian servicemember.” It did not mention that he had a neo-Nazi patch on his uniform: a black sun, known in German as the Sonnenrad, a symbol used by Nazis and white supremacists, including Azov itself.

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