After getting flak on Twitter for criticizing the Groysman Cabinet about 12 hours after it assumed office, Leonid Bershidsky continues his valiant crusade against the insidious Ministry of Information Policy and its legions of porokhobots. I will concede that most of that Twitter flak was indeed written in horrible English, although the problem seems to be universal: Bershidsky’s fans aren’t terribly proficient in English either:
@alcebaid one problem with Ukrainian patriots is that their English sucks.
— Leonid Bershidsky (@Bershidsky) April 15, 2016
I’ve been told Mr. Bershidsky has a ghost editor who fixes his Russian-isms, which is admirable: at least, Mr. Bershidsky has enough sense to recognize his shortcomings when it comes to English language. I suppose that’s something.
Where Mr. Bershidsky displays markedly less sense is his reaction to the (bad English, square head) criticism he’s got for his troubles, exemplified by this Facebook post:
The translation, courtesy of The Ukraine Today staff, follows:
The bastards at the Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy, both its staff and the freelance employees, continue to amateurishly demean me on Twitter, including in horrible English. They think this is going to make me stop writing about their country, ruined by their thieving masters – Ukraine. Their chicken brains and their ruined neural circuits stop them from comprehending that their toys are broken, the “European” dream is over and they’re all going to be fucked and robbed like they were fucked and robbed during Yanukovych’s time. Like they already are.
I dare Mr. Bershidsky to provide a better translation, since he obviously has a much better command of English (or so he claims, anyway), so that his editors at Bloomberg can see firsthand how well their celebrated columnist responds to criticism. It may not be constructive criticism, true, but it’s not that different from Bershidsky’s criticism of Ukraine and Ukraine’s government. In fact, I’m not sure Bershidsky ever praised it except for that little article about energy reform. What’s more, his infamous article about how ‘unreformed’ Ukraine is ‘self-destructing’ was mostly an English-language translation of an op-ed at Ukrainian Novoye Vremya (a news outlet sponsored by Dragon Capital’s Tomas Fiala, close friend and business partner of ex-Minister of Economic Development Aivaras Abromavicius) by one Serhiy Leshchenko, a veritable anti-corruption crusader and a voice for everything that is horrible with Ukraine. Or, at least, as Mr. Leshchenko would have it.
Translating a biased opinion piece counts as constructive criticism now? Sorry, Mr. Bershidsky, but that doesn’t sound too convincing. What it does sound like is so much wishful thinking.
Let me ask you this, however. You, Mr. Bershidsky, are a highly-qualified, professional journalist, ex-Forbes editor, et cetera. It is obvious that, as a highly-qualified, professional journalist, your findings should be corroborated by solid facts.
The existence of Russian government troll factories is pretty much undisputed at this point. In the last few years, the infamous Olgino was the focal point of a number of leaks, confessions by former employees and investigations by open-source organizations such as Bellingcat. It has been proven, without a shade of doubt (except maybe from some Putin-verstehers, detached from reality as they are), that the Olgino troll factory exists.
Yet for some reason, in the 1.5 years of the Ukrainian Ministry of Information Policy’s existence, there’s been precisely zero leaks from the ‘Ukrainian troll factory’ you’re so busy condemning. There’s been no media revelations, no investigations, nothing that might suggest it exists: yet you continue to brand everyone who disagrees with you as paid trolls.
I can only assume you’ve got some solid facts if you’re busy making such bold statements. Facts such as leaked documents, uncovered botnets, testimonies, the usual stuff. So why won’t you show these facts for the whole world to see?
You’re the journalist. Accusations should be substantiated by proof. And it is your job, as the accuser, to provide the public with the facts to prove your words.
And if you decline, Mr. Bershidsky, then I will be forced to question your integrity as a highly-qualified, professional journalist.
As I’m sure many others will, too.