Trudeau Links Russian Expulsions to Freeland Smear Campaign

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland

NP-UN National Affairs Desk.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has linked the recent expulsion of four Russian diplomats to last year’s alleged smear campaign directed against Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, reports CBC News.

He offered it up as evidence of attempts to interfere with democracy in Canada, but stopped short of directly accusing the individuals who have been ordered out of the country, wrote Murray Brewster in an story posted on April 4.

Trudeau chose not to accuse the government of President Vladimir Putin of orchestrating the sometimes virulent social media campaign against Freeland, which played off historical material that showed her maternal Ukrainian grandfather was the chief editor of a Ukrainian-language newspaper in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War.

Instead, he pointed the finger at shadowy proxies, continued Brewster.

“I think we can all remember the efforts by Russian propagandists to discredit our minister of Foreign Affairs in various ways through social media and sharing scurrilous stories about her,” he said following a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg — who warned several Ottawa audiences of the danger of Russian disinformation campaigns.

“There are multiple ways in which Russia uses cyber and social media propaganda to sway public opinion to try and push a pro-Russia narrative.”

The expulsions were announced last week as part of a broader international response to the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Britain with a nerve agent.

In doing so, Canada’s Global Affairs department said the diplomats — three in Montreal and one in Ottawa — were really “intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy,” according to Brewster’s report.

“Krakivs’ki visti, … served the Ukrainian-speaking population both in Poland and later in the Nazi-occupied territories of western Ukraine and strove to maintain some semblance of Ukrainian national consciousness in those turbulent times. According to Chomiak’s daughter, Natalia, employees of the newspaper even worked to some extent with the anti-Nazi resistance; in particular, they issued false papers for members of the underground. But, as can be expected under such circumstances, they had no choice but to publish Nazi propaganda including some anti-Semitic articles. However, under no circumstance does that make them ‘Nazis’. I worked with the late Michael Chomiak at Ukrainian News in 1982-1983 and knew him to be an honest journalist and a deeply religious and conscientious individual,” wrote then-editor of Ukrainian News, Marco Levytsky in a March 16, 2017 editorial.

Levytsky linked the origin of the smear campaign to a story posted on the Russia Insider website on January 19. It was written by ex- KGB agent, John Helmer, who fled his native United States in the 1980’s before he was exposed by former KGB Major Yuri Shvets. Helmer now works as a propagandist for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Helmer has continued his smear campaign against Freeland, his most recent posting coming on February 24, 2018.