Businessman 'aghast' at Ukraine 'misinformation'

A Ukrainian soldier, with armoured personnel carriers behind him, points his weapon at an...
A Ukrainian soldier, with armoured personnel carriers behind him, points his weapon at an approaching car at a checkpoint near the town of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine. Photo by Reuters
A Dunedin businessman says he is having trouble reconciling media reports on the conflict in the Ukraine with what he has seen on a recent holiday, and believes all is not what it seems.

Paul Facoory has just returned from a three-week holiday in the northeastern city of Kharkov, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

Speaking to various people in and around the city, and witnessing some of the political demonstrations first hand, he believed a lot of television coverage was ''slanted''.

''It really ignores what the people think and what the people want.

''The West has painted this as Russian aggression and Russian intentions to expand into the Ukraine. That would be nothing further from the truth.''

Mr Facoory said he saw several large demonstrations in Kharkov, in which about 30,000 people of all ages marched down the street.

''That night I saw, on television, the ambassador to the United Nations speaking about one of the marches, saying it was a sophisticated Russian military operation.

''But when it comes to Ukraine, I saw nothing of that.

''I was absolutely aghast. The misinformation that is coming out.

''I believe it is part of a geo-political theme that the Americans have got with Russia at the moment, because they don't like Putin.

''They seem to be wanting to demonise him.''

He believed media coverage was aggravating tensions within the Ukraine, and the fighting was ripping communities apart.

''It has put long-time friends on opposite sides of the fence. It has created a rift in friendships.

''What we saw in Kiev just after Christmas was genuinely people that want change. They want a better lot. Ukrainian people are not well-endowed.

''They're struggling, they're making ends meet, but they want a brighter future - particularly the young people.

''But of course you've also got groups like the nationalists who have been a minority and are always going to be a minority - they are seizing this opportunity to get what they can.

''And the unfortunate thing is, they feel as if [former Ukrainian president] Viktor Yanukovych has let them down, but they also feel it was a democratically elected government which was overthrown by street parties.

''They already feel that their lot is going to get worse with the new regime that has come in, so they are now taking the opportunity to express their desire to be more autonomous.''

Despite the conflict, Mr Facoory said he never felt unsafe in the streets.

''It was peaceful. There was a huge number of police on the streets.

''We were sitting in a cafe having a nice cup of coffee, and three blocks away there was a demonstration with thousands of people going on.

''It was really quite surreal.''




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