Russian Foreign Minister complains about shutdown of state news outlets, pressed by ABC on misinformation

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is making clear his government’s displeasure with the shutdown of state affiliated news outlets across the world amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine

During a Thursday panel interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Lavrov was pressed on the misinformation being spread by Russia regarding the reasons behind the invasion and claimed the world wasn’t being told the entire story about the military operation because of the now-lack of a Russian media presence. 

“I cannot comment [on] conjectures, and there’s a great deal of these now,” Lavrov said after Stephanopoulos asked how he could defend the “lies” surrounding the reason for Russia’s invasion. 

“But you know, if you paid your attention to the fact that Europe, mostly, and the United States, are trying to close down all the outlets, media outlets and information sources, broadcast by Russia, from Russia, on how the special military operation progresses and advances and how the Ukrainian army and the neo-Nazi battalions behave towards the peaceful civilians,” he added. 

ABC's George Stephanopoulos and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
(Getty Images/Reuters)

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Russian state media bellowed the Russian government’s justification of the invasion following its launch last week, hailing the operation as “historic” and claiming Ukraine was the true aggressor in the war between the two nations. It also repeated accusations that the Ukrainian government was made up of neo-Nazis committing genocide against Russian residents in the eastern separatist regions of Ukraine. 

DirecTV announced earlier this week that it would remove RT America, a Kremlin-backed media outlet, from its lineup amid the war, joining other companies and western countries in taking action against Russian-backed media. 

Lavrov went on to claim the Ukrainian army was robbing and ripping off people in the Donbas settlements, one of the separatist regions, and that they stole vehicles and property from the Ukrainian residents living there. 

“They behave like pillagers and marauders. And, you know, there is a lot of information about the future provocations that brood in Mariupol and other territories where the Ukrainians are now trying to use the civilians as a human shield,” he said. “Talk to the Indians, the Arabs, and the Africans that are trying to flee Ukraine now. They are not allowed.” 

A view of the central square following shelling of the City Hall building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Dorogoy)

A view of the central square following shelling of the City Hall building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Dorogoy)
((AP Photo/Pavel Dorogoy))

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It wasn’t immediately clear what Lavrov was referring to, however, he claimed there was video footage depicting foreigners trying to flee Ukraine into Russia but were not being allowed to leave by Ukrainian authorities. 

“I don’t have enough time now to enumerate all the facts. Please visit our website, the website of our ministry. And you will be able to get a detailed transcription of what the Kiev neo-Nazi regime is now doing. You like the word ‘killer.’ You know, real killers are siding with the Kiev regime,” he said, appearing to reference President Biden previously referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “killer.”

Stephanopoulos pressed Lavrov on his neo-Nazi claims, noting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was Jewish and had family members who died in the Holocaust. 

Lavrov reiterated his claim and argued that Zelenskyy and other “neo-Nazis” were able to manipulate the Ukrainian people. He then claimed they marched in “torch processions” and trained in “acts of sabotage and warfare.” 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. (Photo by Alexei NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images) 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. (Photo by Alexei NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP) (Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images) 
((Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images))

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Lavrov went on to cite laws he claimed supported the banning of the Russian language in schools and in businesses, and, again, implored people to “spend half an hour” on the websites of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russian Defense Ministry for more information. 

He later cited a French journalist named Anne-Laure Bonnel, who reported on the alleged bombing, shelling and killing of civilians by the Ukrainian military in the Russian separatist regions, but claimed she was prevented from airing her report by the French government. Fox News was not able to immediately verify that claim.

Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.

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