On September 30, Bellingcat, a web portal widely promoted by Russian and Western mainstream media, published another ‘five-star investigation’ targeting the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.
Over the past few years, Bellingcat has become widely known due to its publications on supposed ‘Assad regime chemical attacks’ in Syria, the MH17 tragedy and other topics. Many independent media organizations and even mainstream media outlets criticized these publications for multiple mistakes, far-fetched conclusions and false information.
We, the SouthFront Team, have always treated the activities of Belligncat with a smile. We understand that the main goal of this resource is not investigating important developments or waging ‘informational warfare’ against competitors of the so-called West and the global bureaucracy, but rather making business. The key purpose of Bellingcat is to suck budgets from entities linked with the West and the global bureaucracy.
However, the September 30 investigation caused not a smile, but consternation. We will not comment on any opuses written by Bellingcat about the Serena Shim Award, one of the few real awards that support independent media without pre-conditions, nor demands to publish articles supporting particular points of view or attempts to influence the editorial policy of awarded media organizations. We will not comment on angry words and false allegations towards multiple alternative media outlets published by Bellingcat.
Let’s focus on the false information about SouthFront.
1. SouthFront has never been a pro-Assad website. This fact is an open secret for people interested or familar with the conflict in Syria. In its coverage of the conflict, SouthFront has covered and is covering points of views and statements of different warring sides, including the opposition and various militant groups. SouthFront has repeatedly been criticized by more politicized entities for this stance.
2. Paul Antonopoulos has never been a founder of SouthFront. SouthFront’s founder is another person and all members of SouthFront’s Steering Committee know very well who he is.
3. Paul Antonopoulos has no links to SouthFront. SouthFront had a short correspondence with him in 2016 when he was one of Al-Masdar News’ contributors. Al-Masdar News is the news agency that also covers the conflict in Syria, with a bit more of a pro-government agenda. As to the views of Mr. Antonopoulos, SouthFront can declare with all responsibility that during the correspondence with him, he did not express any kind of neo-Nazi views or political preferences.
UPDATE: Bellingcat reacted to SouthFront’s article by removing the part of its investigation claiming that Paul Antonopoulos was a founder of SouthFront.
In this situation, the SouthFront Team feels itself obliged to assist Bellingcat in its investigations against SouthFront. We want to recall that southfront.org’s domain obtained through the Russian domain registrator Reg.ru. Therefore, the logic of mainstream media and investigators says that SouthFront is a Russian propaganda. We also recall that SouthFront has repeatedly stated that there are some Russian-speaking members in our team.
It looks like the claim that Paul Antonopoulos is a founder of SouthFront is not merely a mistake. This is a new informational attack on SouthFront. In this way, fake-newsmakers from Bellingcat attempt to label SouthFront as a kind of neo-Nazi organization by association. They were probably triggered by SouthFront’s video mentioning the “struggle against the neoliberal globalist dystopia”.
In general, SouthFront is satisfied by the reaction and actions of Bellingcat-like organizations to our work. We hope that Belligncat will continue its work further in their fascinating style of ‘investigative journalism’.
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SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence Team