Ukraine’s government has included former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the PT candidate to try to return to office in October, on a list of “speakers promoting Russian propaganda narratives.”
The accusation was published on the website of the Center for Containment of Disinformation, an entity created by President Volodymyr Zelensky last year that is part of the information war between Russia and Ukraine from the perspective of what Kiev considers fake news and Kremlin manipulations.
Lula is the only Brazilian in a list of 78 people, 30 of whom are Americans. He is there for two reasons, according to the center: he said that Russia should lead a new world order and that Zelensky is as much to blame for the war as Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There is no record of PT having said the first assertion. During his eight years in office (2003-10), Lula promoted a foreign policy focused on South-South relations, in which Russia was a founding member of the BRICS, a political-economic bloc that unites Brazil, China, India and South Africa. South too.
On numerous occasions the then president and members of his government praised the idea of an alternative to diplomacy dominated by the US and Europe, which is quite different from saying that Russia should dominate the international system.
The second sentence is in the controversial interview granted by Lula to the American magazine Time, published in May. In it, he said: “I keep watching the president of Ukraine on television as if he were celebrating, being given a standing ovation by all the parliaments, you know? This guy is as responsible as Putin. He is as responsible as Putin. Because in a war there’s not just one culprit.”
Lula’s adviser said he would not comment on the case, but recalled that the PT condemned the invasion of Ukraine. He considers the criticism of Lula’s speech a matter of “bad will”. Even among PT’s allies, there was a reading that, regardless of the merit of the opinion, it could have been toned down, since Kiev was the object of Moscow’s aggression. But there was not the usual exploitation by his biggest rival, President Jair Bolsonaro (PL), for a simple reason: the president agrees with his predecessor.
This is the second interaction between the conflict in Eastern Europe and the Brazilian election. Last week, Zelenski gave an interview to TV Globo and criticized the position of neutrality advocated by Bolsonaro. Brazil condemned the invasion in a UN resolution, but did not adhere to sanctions against Moscow.
It did so for economic interests: it wanted to keep the flow of Russian fertilizers to Brazilian agribusiness and, now, it seeks to trade diesel at a discount to alleviate the fuel inflation crisis.
The path, criticized by Zelensky, who sees the relativization of relations with Moscow as something equivalent to the attempt to appease Adolf Hitler made by the West before the Second World War, is not unique to Brazil. China and India, not coincidentally members of the BRICS, brutally increased the import of Russian hydrocarbons, generating criticism that they indirectly help to finance the war. In addition, Itamaraty has historically advocated negotiated conflict solutions, avoiding taking sides.
The Ukrainian center list has no practical effect. In it, diplomatically, there are no heads of state: Bolsonaro, who visited Putin and offered him solidarity a week before the war, does not appear.
Candidates for president, however, are there. In addition to Lula, two losers in this year’s French election are included: Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour are criticized for pro-Moscow positions. France, led by Emmanuel Macron, is often targeted in Kiev for its less aggressive stance on Putin. Perhaps not by chance, it is the second country with the most names in the index, 12.
The publication, made on July 14, was highlighted by the British website UnHerd on Monday (25). There are politicians, journalists, political scientists and analysts there who have given opinions considered pro-Russia.
The publication listened to some of the people listed there, such as the American political scientist John Mearshimer, an advocate of the so-called realist line of international relations who has always pointed to the West’s attitude towards Russia as part of the roots of the conflict.
“When they fail to overturn their arguments with facts and logic, they defame. I argue that it is clear from the evidence available that Russia invaded Ukraine because the US and its European allies were determined to make the country a Western stronghold,” he said. .
This has been a geopolitical focal point for understanding the crisis since Putin annexed Crimea in 2014, but the mere discussion has been banned in parts of the West because it ends up resembling a justification for war. What it is not: understanding reasons, or problematizing common sense, does not imply endorsement.
Another name on the list, American journalist Glenn Greenwald, on Twitter accused the government of Ukraine of McCarthyism —reference to the witch hunts against alleged communists in the 1950s in the United States under the inspiration of then Senator Joseph McCarthy.
He recalls that Zelensky operates a heavy censorship of journalistic work inside Ukraine, suppressed the opposition and saw rival prisoners since exercising power under the shadow of Putin’s bombs.
Not that the situation is much better on the other side of the trenches. Putin, who had already effectively suppressed political dissent in Russia for the past two years, has installed tough military censorship and information control in his country. Independent media has been virtually extinct and anyone accused of spreading fake news about the war, which cannot even be called that, risks getting 15 in jail.