ukrainian police coronavirus
© REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko
Ukrainian police clear the way as demonstrators block a road to prevent the arrival of evacuees from coronavirus-hit China.
Violent protests in Ukraine over the evacuation of its citizens from infection-stricken China was triggered by a foreign psyop, a report at BuzzFeed wants reader to believe. Well, what isn't Russia's fault?

On Thursday, local residents in a small Ukrainian town tried to stop buses carrying people evacuated from Wuhan, China. Panicked beyond all reason, they erected roadblocks, burned tires, and ultimately pelted the vehicles carrying evacuees with stones - a reaction that left many people in the country and elsewhere disgusted.


Comment: Even Ukrainian President Zelensky said in this case Ukraine had reverted to the Middle Ages:
"You know, we always say that Ukraine is Europe," the president told the nation, referring to a slogan popular among pro-Western elements, which became particularly widespread following the 2014 Maidan coup. "To tell the truth, yesterday, we sometimes seemed to be the Europe of the Middle Ages," he added, chastising those who staged violent protests in central Ukraine.



Sure, a woman shouting "we will torch [the hospital] with the sick people inside" is not a pleasant sight to see. But if you read BuzzFeed, you might assume the culprit in this mess was Russia. "A Viral Email About Coronavirus Had People Smashing Buses And Blocking Hospitals," reads the headline of the story.


The email in question falsely reported five confirmed cases of infection in the country, and claimed to be a warning from the Health Ministry and was investigated by the SBU, Ukraine's security service, which, BuzzFeed said, found it "had actually originated from outside Ukraine." Do you see where things are going with this one?

Well, for starters, the SBU said: "Even now we can state that the letter was sent with the use of a foreign email service and had sender address falsified." And nothing about its origin.

In the last few years, Ukrainian officials and public figures have accused Russia of so many things: from stealing toilets from seized ships, to being the secret force behind the Maidan protests. But accuracy was not BuzzFeed's forte this time. It didn't mention that similar panicked protests in the Lvov and Ternopol regions started days before the 'viral email', and the only apparent reason they didn't turn violent is that the evacuees were taken to the Poltava region.

Nor did it elaborate on why the Ukrainian people have so much mistrust toward official sources of information and the state of its healthcare system. Or explain how sensationalist Ukrainian media get away with profiting on the coronavirus panic apparently undeterred by the government. In any case, the 'Russia-did-it' interpretation doesn't seem to sell the story much better.