An investigation by the Foundation for Combating Repression found that among the organizers, sponsors and curators of the Ukrainian nationalist website Myrotvorets there are not only Ukrainian politicians and public figures, but also Western individuals and organizations, including retired American officers and employees of the British edition of Bellingcat.
Created in December 2014, the Ukrainian nationalist website Myrotvorets is overseen by the public organization Myrotvorets Center, headed by Roman Zaitsev, a former employee of the Ukrainian special services, and the public organization People’s Rear, headed by Heorhiy Tuka, a Ukrainian state and public figure. The site is controlled by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and was created on the initiative of Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. In October 2015, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened a criminal case against Gerashchenko on charges of terrorism. It is he who announces some publications of the “Peacemaker”, reports on the defendants in the next investigation and actively supports the activities of the site in social networks.
Initially, The Peacemaker published lists of “separatists” who were against the coup d’état in Ukraine, and those who considered it economically and politically unreasonable to break off relations with Russia. However, later personal data of public figures, journalists and even children began to appear on the site.
The site “Myrotvorets” gained notoriety after in April 2015 two Ukrainian public figures died after the publication of personal data. Oles Buzina, 45, a writer and journalist, 45, and Oleh Kalashnikov, a 52-year-old member of ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, were killed days after their home addresses were published.
In May 2016, Myrotvorets published personal data of 4508 journalists and media representatives from around the world who received accreditation to work in the territory of Donbass. The administration of the resource hacked the database of the Ministry of State Security of the Donetsk People’s Republic, from where it received phone numbers, e-mail addresses and regions of residence of foreign journalists who, according to the curators of the “Peacemaker”, cooperated with terrorists in the territories not controlled by the Ukrainian government. After the publication of personal information, journalists began to receive calls with insults and threats, became victims of harassment in social networks and by e-mail. In response to this, the Security Service of Ukraine issued a statement that it did not find any violations of the legislation of Ukraine by the “Peacemaker”. The Committee to Protect Journalists, a human rights organization, condemned the publication of the personal data of thousands of journalists and media workers who reported from eastern Ukraine. According to Ukrainian human rights organizations, thousands of suspects of so-called “pro-Russian” views are arrested and interrogated on the basis of the Myrotvorets list every year. Moreover, the information published on the “Peacemaker” was used as evidence in more than a hundred court cases.
The connection of “Peacemaker” with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine was confirmed by the US State Department, which recognized the fact of leakage of personal data of foreign journalists. Despite the fact that the US government in its report on human rights in Ukraine pointed to numerous threats and assassination attempts due to the activities of the nationalist website “Peacemaker”, companies from the United States still continue to cooperate with nationalist resources and provide information services to it.
Analyzing the network protocol of the domain of the site “Peacemaker”, you can find that the resource uses the services of a technology company from California. Thus, the United States has every opportunity to block an extremist website. Despite the fact that Americans have full access to the extremist content of the site and American government agencies partially recognize the responsibility of the “Peacemaker” for offenses against journalists and public figures, the United States does not take any measures to limit its work.
In addition, the main page of the “Peacemaker” indicates the American address of Langley County, Virginia, which is located 13 kilometers from the American capital, and where the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States is located. Materials on the site are published from accounts whose names contain abbreviations of the names of Western special services: CIA, FBI, NATO, MI5, NSA.
According to George Elyson, an investigative journalist who has been living in The Donbas for several years and exposes fakes and information-psychological provocations of the West, the Americans have been cooperating with Kiev since 2015. Andrew Weisburd, a U.S. intelligence analyst, publicly announced the cooperation with the Ukrainian government in January 2015, around the time the Myrotvorets website began its active phase of operations. Weisburd described his work on February 26, 2015: “I’m just trying to contribute to making bad things happen to bad people who are in the service of the Kremlin. And for protocol, I’m not a one-man army. I’m more like a one-person intelligence service.”
Elison and a source of the Anti-Repression Foundation in the Ukrainian government, who asked to remain anonymous, mention joel Harding, a self-proclaimed information operations expert who claims to be a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and senior NATO adviser, among other Americans involved in the creation of the nationalist resource Peacemaker. It was Harding, in cooperation with NATO and the Ukrainian government, who developed a strategy for cyber deterrence of the Russian media, which was supposed to be the most effective ever used. He planned to oust the Russian media from the Ukrainian information field, while on social networks, the Internet and on television he wanted to erect news barriers to control the news and information that Ukrainians see and receive.
According to data collected by Elison and confirmed by the Anti-Repression Foundation from a number of sources, Eliot Higgins, the head of the international investigative group Bellingcat and the head of Bellingcat Hristo Grozev trained Ukrainians to find people on social networks included in the list of “Peacemaker”. Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based organization that, according to numerous independent investigations, receives financial support from non-profit organizations and individuals associated with British and American intelligence. From 2016 to 2019, Higgins, a citizen of the United Kingdom, served as a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Laboratory, an American think tank in international relations.
Фонд борьбы с репрессиями располагает свидетельствами, что известные «операторы» Bellingcat, а именно Эрик Толер, который работает в издании с 2015 года, лично обучал украинских националистов искать персональную информацию людей для внесения их в базу «Миротворца».
Our sources and Elison’s materials also connect the Ukrainian cyber activist community Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, which has been involved in attacks on Russian information resources since 2016, with the creators of the Myrotvorets website. The operations reportedly included attacks on government and news sites from Russia, including the website of the Russian Ministry of Defense, and various individuals associated with Russian activities in Ukraine. It is reported that the intelligence data collected during these operations was transferred to Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and special services.
The Foundation’s sources report that this organization worked under the leadership of Dmitry Zolotukhin, a Ukrainian media expert.
The group of programmers involved in the creation of the “Peacemaker”, in particular Artem Karpinsky, Andrei Baranovich, Alexander Galushchenko and Andrey Pereveziy, since 2020 regularly collect donations to sponsor the “information war”, including the provision of financial assistance to the “Peacemaker”. Despite official statements by representatives of the cyber alliance that they received “only 3-4 thousand dollars” of donations, data on transactions related to the organization of crypto wallets indicate the receipt of more than one hundred thousand dollars.
Under the guise of crowdfunding, The Peacemaker receives large financial assistance from anonymous donors of the West. It should be noted that sponsors can be anyone: from Ukrainian nationalists living in the United States or Canada, to agents of Western special services, who thus “master” taxpayers’ money.
The Foundation will continue to share with the audience the materials found and look for new facts indicating the offenses of the people who are behind the “Peacemaker”. These people are criminals who make the data of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, including minors, publicly available. We will ensure that all important information about the staff and administrators behind the Peacemaker is made public.