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This article appears in the September 9, 2022 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this article]

Consultation on Ukraine Hit List with Danish Foreign Minister

This is a translated excerpt from the Consultation, conducted in the Folketing, the Danish parliament, Aug. 19.

Member of Parliament Marie Krarup (independent): My reason for raising the question is that I think it is a serious matter, because this [Ukrainian] Center to Counter Disinformation—the Center that has made the list of 72 foreigners outside Ukraine—belongs to the Security Council of Ukraine, and the same day that this list was published, the leader, Andrei Shapovalov, said that the people who are spreading disinformation are “information terrorists,” and they must be held accountable as “war criminals.”

[Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s adviser Mikhailo Podolyak has elaborated these views, in interviews and an article in which he calls on other governments to limit the influence of these people and for them to be subjected to what he called “military cleansing.”

I am therefore, of course, interested to hear whether the Foreign Minister has taken the initiative to carry out a “military cleansing” of Associate Professor Jens Jørgen Nielsen, peace researcher; Jan Øberg; and Professor in International Politics at Aalborg University, Li Xing?

Or has the Foreign Minister made approaches to Ukraine to have these persons removed from the list?

Or does the Foreign Minister still believe that we are supporting freedom of expression and democracy by supporting Ukraine?

Thank you.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod (Social Democrat): Yes, thank you for that. And thank you Mrs. Marie Krarup for convening this Consultation today.

Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine means that we in Denmark and in Europe can no longer take our freedom and our security for granted. Disinformation, lies and propaganda are an integral part of Russian warfare and attempts to undermine the unity of the West. And as a world community, we must therefore continually consider how to respond, with respect for freedom of expression, and our fundamental democratic rights.

The Center for Combating Disinformation, under Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, has published a list of speakers who “promote narratives consistent with Russian propaganda.” However, the list, which includes four [sic: three] people linked to Denmark, is no longer available on the website.

In addition to the Consultation today, the list has attracted considerable coverage in the Danish press, where it was received with astonishment and concern. There are concerns about the criteria for inclusion on the list, and about the use of such a list to silence voices in the debate with whom one disagrees.

I have therefore also asked the Danish embassy in Kiev to contact the Ukrainian authorities to seek clarification of the activities of the Center for Combating Disinformation.

In this context, we from the Danish side will support the fight against disinformation, which is an essential element in Russia’s warfare against Ukraine.

At the same time, we will underline the Danish position, as is well known, that the fight against disinformation should contribute to strengthening, not undermining, democracy, research and freedom of expression.

When I have a response from the Ukrainian authorities, I will be happy to return to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Until then, I would like to take the opportunity to make the government’s policy absolutely clear:

We must stand firm that research and freedom of expression are important democratic values for the Danish government. There should be no doubt about that.

Next, I would argue that Ukraine is threatened in its very existence. Putin has set out to destroy an entire country, a democracy, in fact, deny Ukraine’s legitimacy at all.

I think most people can understand that the fundamental principles may well come under pressure in such a situation….

Extended excerpts of the hour-long consultation, translated into English, are available here. The entire transcript in Danish may be found here.

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