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Ukraine’s ‘Disinformation Experts’ and the Drama of Alleged ‘Pro-Russian’ Journalists in Germany

June 14—A nationally prominent German newspaper has put a spotlight on the role of Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation (CCD) in seeking to restrict free speech in Germany. The June 8 issue of Berliner Zeitung has a lengthy exposé of the role of Ukraine’s Center for Countering Disinformation’s (CCD) in recruiting German journalists in attacking other journalists alleging they are supporting Russia. The CCD is a U.S. State Department-supported agency in the Ukraine President’s office which generates lists of what it calls “information terrorists,” and recommending “action” be taken against them, as EIR has documented for example, in the attempted assassination of Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico. The case of Armin Coerper, the head of the Moscow office of Germany’s ZDF state-run TV channel, is at the center of the Berliner Zeitung exposé.

On Jan. 29, ZDF broadcast an on-the-ground report by Coerper on the situation in the war-torn city of Mariupol. Right at the beginning, the ZDF reporter said that he wanted to “make it very clear” that his report does not mean “that we recognize this occupation by Russia,” adding that it is important, however, to “get a picture on the ground.” He believes it is “personally important to report on a war from both sides.” Coerper goes on to explain that Mariupol is “not a ghost town,” but rather, there is electricity, hot water and internet access. Reconstruction is in full swing, workers from Russia and from Central Asia can be seen on the construction sites, and even the destroyed theater is being rebuilt. Coerper says that Russia is planning to resettle Russian citizens in Mariupol.

Even that much reality was too much to be permitted. “In Germany, a storm of indignation breaks over Coerper and ZDF shortly afterwards,” Berliner Zeitung writes. Numerous journalists, including from Stern magazine, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Bild, denounced Coerper as an alleged “Russian propagandist” in the wildest terms. Interestingly, Stern provides ostensible evidence in the form of a tweet by Sergej Sumlenny, the long-standing head of the Heinrich Böll Foundation’s office in Kiev, now working at the European Resilience Initiative Center which closely cooperates with Ukraine’s CCD.

“Practically no one takes Coerper’s side,” Berliner Zeitung notes. “Only the Austrian section of Reporters Without Borders writes on X that ‘the role of journalists is to present the reality on the ground objectively and impartially.’ Coerper had tried to get a ‘comprehensive picture’ of the situation.”

The CCD’s hand behind this witch-hunt against Coerper—which included his name being added to the Myrotvorets kill list—became public later, when the CCD, backed up by the Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany, sent a delegation to Berlin in April for meetings with the government-owned Federal Center of Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, BPB). According to the CCD itself, the trip was financed by the European Union.

Berliner Zeitung wrote: “The meeting apparently also served the purpose of presenting the dissatisfaction of Ukrainians with German media to the representatives of the Federal government. The Center’s analysis, in which ZDF and Berliner Zeitung are accused of Russian propaganda, ‘was presented to German government officials.’”

(As EIR magazine has reported, Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute which she founded and chairs were included in the CCD’s dossier against German institutions and prominent individuals.)

A spokesperson for the BPB told Berliner Zeitung: “The Ukrainian Center for Countering Disinformation took part in all-day talks with the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Homeland (BMI) on April 9 and in the morning of April 10. The BPB took part in a meeting on the afternoon of April 9, specifically employees from the Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe project group.”

The Federal Foreign Office also confirmed a meeting with the Ukrainian disinformation “experts.” When asked by the Berliner Zeitung, the office said: “We are in contact with the Ukrainian government and civil society to combat disinformation. In this context, a meeting took place with the Ukrainian ‘Center to Counter Disinformation’ (sic) and the Ukrainian embassy in Berlin.”

The Interior Ministry spokesperson told Berliner Zeitung that “The BMI clearly pointed out that ZDF is a public broadcaster and a reputable medium and that journalistically sound reporting on Ukraine—including possible criticism of Ukraine—is not to be described as disinformation in the opinion of the BMI.”

The BPB states: “The conversation with the BPB was not about ZDF. The subject of this conversation was an exchange about political education programs. Media in general were just as little the subject of discussion as ZDF.”

Asked by Berliner Zeitung what the character of the Foreign Ministry’s cooperation with the CCD is, the ministry replied evasively, just stating that it gathers information about disinformation. It did not state whether it shares the CCD’s claim that ZDF and Berliner Zeitung were “Russian disinformation” channels.

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