Claim: The Mariupol theatre bombing is a false flag

When confronted with the possibility that the Russians have committed a war crime by bombing a theatre in Mariupol housing civilians on March 16, 2022:
As the port city of Mariupol was being razed to rubble by Russian bombs, hundreds of civilians, mostly women and children, went to hide in a theatre near the waterfront, a grand Soviet-era building. Last Wednesday, a bomb hit and - within seconds - the building had been split in two and left in ruins.
some pro-Russian media outlets have alleged that the bombing was a false flag. To use an example, the alternative media outlet called The Grayzone has echoed those claims. This is of no surprise when the author of the article, Max Blumenthal, has been working for Russian state media such as RT himself according to this RT article:
An open letter has slammed the Guardian for “wildly inaccurate coverage of Nicaragua.”...

The open letter, which was co-signed by journalists and RT contributors Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton as well as lawyers...
While this doesn't necessarily mean that Blumenthal is wrong, it does mean what he says must be taken with a huge dump truck full of salt. This also makes his later accusations of conflicts of interest towards certain pro-Ukraine sources even more ironic.

He starts off by claiming that Russia had nothing to gain from targeting a civilian building, while Ukraine had everything to gain from a false flag.
While the Russian military operation in Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Mariupol, it is clear that Russia gained nothing by targeting the theater, and virtually guaranteed itself another public relations blow by targeting a building filled with civilians – including ethnic Russians.

Azov, on the other hand, stood to benefit from a dramatic and grisly attack blamed on Russia. In full retreat all around Mariupol and facing the possibility of brutal treatment at the hands of a Russian military hellbent on “de-Nazification,” its fighters’ only hope seemed to lie in triggering direct NATO intervention.

The same sense of desperation informed Zelensky’s carefully scripted address to Congress, in which he invoked Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech and played a heavily produced video depicting civilian suffering to make the case for a no fly zone.

By instigating Western public outrage over grisly Russian war crimes, Ukraine’s government is clearly aiming to generate enough pressure to overcome the Biden administration’s reluctance to directly confront Russia’s military.
However, this argument does not hold under close scrutiny.

The first flaw is that this line of reasoning can be used to justify the proposition that any war crime can be a false flag, including war crimes committed by the US such as the Mahmudiyah Killings:
A U.S. soldier under court-martial at a Kentucky military base broke down in tears on Wednesday as he described how he and others planned the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, murdered along with her family.
The second flaw is that Russia did seek to gain something by targeting civilian buildings such as the theatre. Civilians are often targeted for the purposes of inducing a negative impact on the morale of the defenders, to weaken their will to fight and to crush any potential resistance, to reduce the number of people that could potentially take up arms against the invaders. Targeting civilians also increases the total amount of medical supplies required to treat injured people, which can stretch the already limited medical supplies thin and make it so that less soldiers could potentially be adequately treated.

The third flaw is the assumption that Ukraine had anything to gain from conducting a false flag. This is predicated upon the assumption that Russia hasn't already had a track record of targeting civilian infrastructure from the start of the invasion. This is false as there has been documentation of deliberate targeting of civilian areas by Amnesty International:
A Russian air strike that reportedly killed 47 civilians in the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv may constitute a war crime, Amnesty International said today following an investigation into the attack...

Amnesty International was not able to identify a legitimate military target at, or close to, the scene of the strike.
and the same incident has been confirmed by Human Rights Watch:
Russian aircraft dropped multiple unguided bombs simultaneously on March 3, 2022, that hit an intersection in a residential neighborhood of Chernihiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine, Human Rights Watch said today...

Although Human Rights Watch was unable to conclusively exclude the possibility of a military target in the area at the time, it found no evidence of any such significant target in or near the intersection when it was hit.
HRW also documented a case where the Russian invaders have launched cluster munitions into residential areas in Kharkiv, killing 3 civilians:
Russian forces fired cluster munitions into at least three residential areas in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, on February 28, 2022, Human Rights Watch said today. These attacks killed at least three civilians...

Given the inherently indiscriminate nature of cluster munitions and their foreseeable effects on civilians, their use as documented in Kharkiv might constitute a war crime...

The two witnesses, interviewed separately, said that they were not aware of any Ukrainian military activity in the area prior to the attack. An open-source online map shows an area labeled as belonging to the military about 400 meters from where the cargo section of one of the rockets landed. Satellite imagery from February 20 shows a small compound at that location with about 20 military vehicles. Even if the site served a military function, the use of cluster munitions in a residential area with civilians violates the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks.
And the Associated Press has interviewed civilians who have gave accounts of Russian soldiers killing civilians (timestamp from 0:58):
Yurii Bushinskii: We stayed for 14 days in shelters. It was very scary. Three people were killed in our shelters by Russians. They shot people with an automatic gun. They threw a stun grenade and first three people who tried to escape were shot.
So henceforth, Ukraine has nothing to gain from a false flag attack when the Russians have already shown a lack of concern for the lives of Ukrainian civilians.

To be continued...
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
So henceforth, Ukraine has nothing to gain from a false flag attack when the Russians have already shown a lack of concern for the lives of Ukrainian civilians.
I think that's the most common-sense argument here, coupled with the experience that cries of "it's a false flag" have been unfounded in the past, see https://www.metabunk.org/threads/kr...tack-russian-denials-of-responsibility.12376/ (Kramatorsk railway station attack)

If there is no evidence that this is a Ukranian false flag operation, then there is nothing to debunk about this claim: we can simply dismiss it as being unsupported.
 
Blumenthal then alleges that the Azov Battalion herded civilians in Mariupol into the drama theatre, framed in a way to suggest they were preparing for a false flag attack. They then cite a video which they allege features a man with glasses pleading with an Azov soldier to let them go, to allow for a humanitarian corridor:
As Russia’s military rapidly degraded Azov positions throughout the second week of March 2022, Azov soldiers apparently directed elderly civilians as well as women and children into the wardrobe hall of the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater in Mariupol.

A video filmed inside the dimly lit building on March 11 featured a local man claiming that one thousand civilians were trapped inside and demanding a humanitarian corridor to allow them to escape. Only a small group of civilians could be seen in the video, however.

“I’m begging you to stop all this, give us the corridor to get people out, to get out women, kids, the wounded…” a bespectacled narrator (seen below) declared in the video.
This description is then followed up with a screenshot from the video showing the narrator next to a soldier:
Screen Shot 2022-05-18 at 3.46.37 am.png
The implication being that the man with the glasses termed the narrator pleaded with the soldier to open a humanitarian corridor, but was refused it. However, this depiction relies on some rather deceptive framing as we will proceed to demonstrate.

The video in question was produced by the Azov Battalion, as we can tell from the the video's credits (timestamp 5:51):

and the video description:
Screen Shot 2022-05-17 at 10.22.59 pm.png
And in case this wasn't already clear enough, I was able to find an identical video on the official Youtube channel of the Azov Battalion (though without Ukrainian subtitles available):

This already raises a question: why would the Azov Battalion make a video that shows them in a bad light, that shows them deliberately blocking anyone from escaping from the theatre? Given the sheer implausibility of the Azov Battalion making a video where they seek to make themselves look bad, it more likely follows that the people in the video were simply advocating for the implementation of a humanitarian corridor without pinning the blame on anyone.

But as mere inference is not enough to establish that it is the Russians whom they were referring to, we have to turn to the subtitles themselves. When we watch the relevant section of the video with the Ukrainian subtitles, and auto translate them into English, we get the following dialogue (timestamp 5:01):
Man in hoodie: People! Listen to us! There are more than 1000 people - including small children who all have a temperature

Man in glasses: There are mothers, it is sad.

Man in hoodie: Here are the wounded, here is the pain. It's hard here. Help us. Please stop this whole story. Give the corridor. Take out the women, children, and the wounded.

Man in glasses: The women and children. And that's all. This is first and foremost.

Man in hoodie: Please! I don't know who... I don't know how... Stop it!
So not only was the quoted words not said by the man with glasses, they weren't even addressed towards the soldier in the photo, but to the audience of the video, the video that was published by the Azov Battalion's official channel. If all this is true, then it follows that both men were advocating for a humanitarian corridor to be established towards whomever the viewer may be. The conversation between the man with glasses and the soldier was therefore about something completely different, specifically about the general situation of the civilians sheltering in the theatre and some updates regarding supplies being dropped off for them. Nowhere in the video did it ever mention or imply that Azov directed the civilians to shelter inside the building.

What this means is that The Grayzone has engaged in some extremely dishonest framing of a video from which they cherry picked pieces of information to suit their narrative of a false flag. But even assuming what they said was completely true, this still does not provide a strong case for their false flag narrative, as it could as well be the case
that the Azov Battalion found some shelter where civilians can hide from the Russian attacks, and informed civilians of that fact.

To be continued...
 
When confronted with the possibility that the Russians have committed a war crime by bombing a theatre in Mariupol housing civilians on March 16, 2022:

some pro-Russian media outlets have alleged that the bombing was a false flag. To use an example, the alternative media outlet called The Grayzone has echoed those claims. This is of no surprise when the author of the article, Max Blumenthal, has been working for Russian state media such as RT himself according to this RT article:

While this doesn't necessarily mean that Blumenthal is wrong, it does mean what he says must be taken with a huge dump truck full of salt. This also makes his later accusations of conflicts of interest towards certain pro-Ukraine sources even more ironic.

He starts off by claiming that Russia had nothing to gain from targeting a civilian building, while Ukraine had everything to gain from a false flag.

However, this argument does not hold under close scrutiny.

The first flaw is that this line of reasoning can be used to justify the proposition that any war crime can be a false flag, including war crimes committed by the US such as the Mahmudiyah Killings:

The second flaw is that Russia did seek to gain something by targeting civilian buildings such as the theatre. Civilians are often targeted for the purposes of inducing a negative impact on the morale of the defenders, to weaken their will to fight and to crush any potential resistance, to reduce the number of people that could potentially take up arms against the invaders. Targeting civilians also increases the total amount of medical supplies required to treat injured people, which can stretch the already limited medical supplies thin and make it so that less soldiers could potentially be adequately treated.

The third flaw is the assumption that Ukraine had anything to gain from conducting a false flag. This is predicated upon the assumption that Russia hasn't already had a track record of targeting civilian infrastructure from the start of the invasion. This is false as there has been documentation of deliberate targeting of civilian areas by Amnesty International:

and the same incident has been confirmed by Human Rights Watch:

HRW also documented a case where the Russian invaders have launched cluster munitions into residential areas in Kharkiv, killing 3 civilians:

And the Associated Press has interviewed civilians who have gave accounts of Russian soldiers killing civilians (timestamp from 0:58):

So henceforth, Ukraine has nothing to gain from a false flag attack when the Russians have already shown a lack of concern for the lives of Ukrainian civilians.

To be continued...
"The first flaw is that this line of reasoning can be used to justify the proposition that any war crime can be a false flag, including war crimes committed by the US such as the Mahmudiyah Killings:"
As you pointed out this isn't really accurate. The general use of the term "false flag" isn't always incorrect, but it's generally reported on in a very hyper specific set of instances that in reality are a very uncommon form of what it represents. "False flag" has not really featured as a professional method in itself for a lot of countries, although remains an action that could be conducted in pursuit of many different types of deception based activities. When we look at specific definitions too from the few countries that *do* use it, it's not really used in the way often reported. As an example, false flag existed as an actual term amongst Soviet intelligence services. Although its defined use and most common use, was in relation to asset recruitment. If they knew you were a Soviet intelligence officer, that was a "true flag", if they didn't know, it was a "false flag", and it didn't require you to specifically exploit claiming to be involved with another group, just lack of identification to the actual host actor.

If we take this into frame, "false flags" are going to be worlds more common that reported. The caveat being those other forms of deception where what could be considered "false flags" play out, generally don't have the same public facing and open ended result. Saying Ukraine has nothing to gain there isnt entirely accurate. ALTHOUGH, if we speak specifically about "false flags" in the context of violent actions conducted against a population and then framed as if it were another actor, by the actor that conducted it, you'd be right, Ukraine doesn't really have much to gain there.
 
Blumenthal's coup de grace for his case that the theatre airstrike was a false flag is a telegram message from a Russian journalist, Dmitry Steshin, that works for the Russian newspaper called the Komsomolskaya Pravda:
On March 12, a chilling message appeared on the Telegram channel of Dmitriy Steshen, a correspondent reporting from Mariupol for the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.

According to Steshen, local residents told him an alleged Russian bombing of the Turkish-built Kanuni Sultan Suleyman mosque in Mariupol that day was a false flag intended to “drag Turkey into the war,” and warned that a false flag attack on the Mariupol Drama Theater was imminent.
Here is the screenshot of the message:

Once translated, the message reads:
“Look at what our readers from Mariupol sent us. If the information can be verified, it needs to be highlighted [for the media]:

Zelensky prepares two [false flag] provocations in Mariupol!!! One of the [false flag] provocation is against the citizens of Turkey, who hid in the mosque built by Akhmetov, and this provocation has already begun by the Ukrainian artillery gunners shelling the grounds of the mosque, from their positions at [Zinsteva] Balka in Nizhniaya [Lower] Kirvoka. Zelensky was unable to drag the EU, USA and UK into the war against the Russian Federation. Now, Zelensky is trying to drag Turkey into the war, pinning his hopes on the explosive emotional character and the love the faithful feel for their sacred shrines.

The second [false flag] provocation Zelensky is preparing for use by Western media, after unsuccessful provocation with the [Mariupol] maternity hospital, Ukrainian soldiers, together with the administration of the Drama Theater, gathered women, children, and the elderly from Mariupol in the Drama Theater building, so as to – given a good opportunity – detonate the building and then scream around the world that this was by the Russian Federation air force and that there should be an immediate ‘no fly zone’ over Ukraine.'”
The Grayzone then links to one of Steshin's articles in the paper that reiterates his claims:
After an unsuccessful provocation with the maternity hospital, Ukrainian warriors together with the administration of the Drama Theater, gathered Mariupol women, children and the elderly in the Drameter building, so that, at a convenient case, to undermine people and howl to the whole world, that it was aircraft of the Russian Federation and urgently need to close the Ukrainian sky, etc. D. ETC. DO NOT BE SILENT ! WE NEED TO MAKE MORE PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THIS!
Sounds shocking right? Not so fast.

The first issue regarding Steshin's claims is that he works for a pro-Kremlin news outlet in a nation that is one of the worst nations for press freedom according to the press freedom index from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Screen Shot 2022-05-19 at 1.21.10 am.png
And according to RSF, Russia has increased its crackdown against media that runs counter to the narrative they want to push in the wake of their invasion:
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, almost all independent media have been banned, blocked and/or declared “foreign agents”. All others are subject to military censorship...


All privately owned independent TV channels are banned from broadcasting, except for cable entertainment channels... Among the big print media outlets, which have belonged to Kremlin allies for a few years, those that had preserved their independence and were under constant threat of closure, like the independent tri-weekly Novaya Gazeta, have had to suspend their publications. Radio stations are in the same situation. Media outlets that have survived are faced with very strict self-censorship because of banned themes and words, and Western social networks are gradually being blocked.
Since the invasion, Russia has also passed a series of laws criminalising the spread of ''false'' information on the Russian Armed Forces, with a 700,000 Rouble fine at best, and a 15 year jail sentence at worst:
Public dissemination under the guise of reliable reports of deliberately false information containing data on the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for the purpose of protecting the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens, maintaining international peace and security, shall be punishable by a fine in the amount of seven hundred thousand to one and a half million rubles, or in the amount of the wage or salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period of one year to eighteen months, or by corrective labor for a term of up to one year, or by compulsory labor for a term of up to three years, or by deprivation of liberty. for the same period...


The acts provided for by the first and second parts of this Article, if they caused grave consequences, shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of ten to fifteen years, with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for a term of up to five years.
So to put it plainly, any Russian media outlet is already operating under coercion from the Kremlin, which means they're incentivised to promote a narrative that favours the invasion and demonises the Ukrainian resistance. Hence Steshin cannot be considered a reliable source by any means.

But all this aside, let's go off on a tangent and look at the first claim by Steshin: that the Ukrainians shelled a mosque in Mariupol as part of a false flag. Blumenthal claims:
On March 12, Western outlets like the Associated Press repeated Ukrainian government claims that the Turkish mosque in Mariupol had been shelled by Russia with 80 civilians inside, including children.

However, Turkish state media revealed that the Ukrainian government had misled Western reporters. The Kanuni Sultan Suleyman Mosque was not only fully intact, it had never been hit by Russian fire.
And Blumenthal then links to an article published by Turkish state media outlet Andalou Agency that claims:
A Turkish mosque in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol has remained intact, the head of the mosque association said on Saturday, as clashes continued in and around the city...

A rocket fell on Friday around 700 meters (2,297 feet) away from the mosque which currently houses 30 Turkish nationals, he said.
Let's assume that all of this is true for now. This does not prove that the Ukrainian government deliberately lied about what happened to the mosque. There is something called the fog of war, and when you have a city under siege that has been cut off from the rest of the world without electricity and with limited cellular connection like Mariupol, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that the Ukrainian government got their hands on some faulty intel and reported it before it was proven to be false.

But even assuming the Ukrainians lied, it does not follow that this proves that they planned a false flag attack on the mosque. The closest rocket fell a whole 700 metres from the Mosque, and the very fact that the mosque was intact contradicts any claims of its grounds being shelled by Ukrainians. Even the article by Andalou did not mention who fired the rocket.

In addition, if we look at an article by Al Jazeera on the mosque in question, we find out that the head of the Mosque, Ismail Hacioglu, has stated that the Russians have harassed refugees fleeing elsewhere from the Mosque:
“Eight cars left the mosque on Wednesday – four had Turkish citizens inside, four had Muslims from other nationalities that were sheltering there. Every car has seven to eight people in it,” Hacioglu, who is helping to coordinate the evacuation, told Al Jazeera.

Russian troops are harassing them. Last night, they stopped vehicles just before Tokmak. They didn’t let people get out of their cars and the women and children froze all night,” Hacioglu said.
So all in all, not only is the false flag allegation nonsense, and the claim of a false flag on the theatre by Steshin is also nonsensical in addition to being unverified.

To be continued...
 
Just before the telegram message, Blumenthal claimed that the Azov Battalion was preventing civilian evacuation from Mariupol, and even dragged civilians out of cars and assaulted them when they tried to leave:
Since Russia launched its invasion, Azov Battalion soldiers have been filmed preventing civilians from leaving Mariupol – even forcing men out of their cars and brutally assaulting them while they attempted to break through the paramilitary’s checkpoints
Blumenthal provides a link to this tweet here which shows a video of a bunch of soldiers dragging out two people from a car with a woman screaming in the background noise:

The evidence that this is footage of the Azov Battalion is flimsy at best. It's unknown when or where the footage was taken. It's unknown who the soldiers work for, though I haven't seen Russian troops wear the light coloured uniform that the soldier on the right wore. It is also unknown who the occupants could be. Saboteurs? I don't know. If anyone can provide more information on this, it would be welcome.

Blumenthal also embedded the following tweet in his article, which claims that an Azov soldier says that they're cancelling an evacuation for the purpose of using them as a human shields:

However, contrary to the tweet, the soldier did not say ''thank you for not being shot''. Rather, what he actually said is that he came to warn the woman questioning him that there is shooting and fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops still ongoing, hence it isn't safe for us to go ahead with the evacuation as you can still hear the gunshots. So it appears that Blumenthal is quite privy to being dishonest by citing dishonest sources to push his narrative.

However, even assuming all of this is true, none of this proves in any way prove that Azov performed a false flag attack on the theatre.

To be continued...
 
Blumenthal then claims that if the Azov Battalion was able to film and upload their mundane moments amid the siege, why was there no video of the theatre being bombed?
Though Azov boasts a sophisticated press unit which films its exploits in the field, and soldiers are publishing even the most banal video of themselves on social media, footage of the theater bombing was nowhere to be found.
Blumenthal's statements are a textbook example of anomaly hunting. As Steven Novella puts it in his blog:
One of the most common and insidious bits of cognitive self-deception is the process of anomaly hunting. A true anomaly is something that cannot be explained by our current model of nature – it doesn’t fit into existing theories...

Pseudoscientists... use anomalies in a different way. They often engage it what we call anomaly hunting – looking for apparent anomalies. They are not, however, looking for clues to a deeper understanding of reality. They are often hunting for anomalies in service to the overarching pseudoscientific process of reverse engineering scientific conclusions.

They imagine that if they can find (broadly defined) anomalies in that data that would point to another phenomenon at work. They then commit a pair of logical fallacies. First, they confuse unexplained with unexplainable. This leads them to prematurely declare something a true anomaly, without first exhaustively trying to explain it with conventional means. Second they use the argument from ignorance, saying that because we cannot explain an anomaly that means their specific pet theory must be true.
Even granting Blumenthal's premise, it does not follow that it proves a false flag. There could be many reasons as to why Azov soldiers didn't film the bombing. They're filming equipment could have ran out of battery owing to the lack of electricity in Mariupol preventing them from keeping it all fully charged. They probably weren't in the area at the time and hence weren't able to capture the bombing, as according to the Associated Press:
None of the witnesses saw Ukrainian soldiers operating inside the building. And not one person doubted that the theater was destroyed in a Russian air attack aimed with precision at a civilian target everyone knew was the city’s largest bomb shelter, with children in it.
And Human Rights Watch:
Human Rights Watch was unable to reach anyone in Mariupol by phone on March 16 to determine whether civilians had left the theater immediately prior to the attack. The doctor, however, shared four photographs of the theater that she said she took on the morning of March 15, on her way out of the city, including one that shows groups of people in civilian clothes cooking food on an open fire and carrying water buckets just outside of the theater. No military vehicles or personnel are visible in the photographs.
No military personnel or equipment were present in the vicinity of the theatre, which means not only could they have not conducted a false flag attack, they also likely weren't near enough to the theatre to properly capture the bombing on camera, especially if they didn't hear the plane conducting the bombing until it's too late. If so, then the bombing was likely done with precision guided munitions (PGMs) which can allow the bombing to be conducted quite the distance from the theatre, outside of earshot of the engines of the bomber. In fact, per the BBC, PGMs were most likely used because the impact crater is approximately in the centre of the building and damage done to the theatre is primarily concentrated in the centre:
It is likely to have been just one bomb that fell on the theatre that morning, bringing all that destruction with it, analysis by McKenzie Intelligence Services for the BBC has concluded.

"Due to the missile appearing to accurately hit the centre of the building, we believe it is a laser-guided bomb, likely the KAB-500L or similar variant, launched from an aircraft," the London-based group said.
In addition, Blumenthal provided a link to an alleged video filmed by the Azov Battalion, embedded in a telegram post, to prove his initial point:
Screen Shot 2022-05-20 at 12.48.05 pm.png
However, not only is there no watermark indicating this is footage filmed by Azov, and not only was the footage filmed two days after the bombing per the date at the bottom right of the message, but the translation of the message itself makes no mention of it coming from Azov:
See what readers sent from Mariupol. If the message corresponds to the facts, it should be highlighted.
The Ukronazi had his teeth knocked out and wounded in the wrist. I'm still alive, but it's temporary. Shooting ukrofascist - profanity.
Hence given that the footage was sent by the followers of the pro-Russian account that sent the message, it follows that it likely was of Russian or separatist soldiers fighting Ukrainians. Which again shows the tendency for Blumenthal to lie for his agenda.

To blow another hole in his narrative, footage of the bombed out theatre with civilians inside has came out around a week after it happened:

And AP has also released some nuggets of footage showing smoke rising from the ruins of the theatre in the immediate aftermath of the bombing:
Screen Shot 2022-05-20 at 11.51.33 am.png
Hence Blumenthal has been proven to be a liar yet again, someone who engages in bad faith arguments to sow doubt, hoping that by flinging enough mud at the wall, something will eventually stick.

To be continued...
 

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Mendel

Senior Member.
Blumenthal then claims that if the Azov Battalion was able to film and upload their mundane moments amid the siege, why was there no video of the theatre being bombed?
There are thousands of mundane moments, only some of these ever get documented. This line of reasoning implies that all mundane moments get documented, and hence all important moments should, too, but in fact only a small fraction of mundane moments ever is recorded.
But you can't record a special moment unless you have advance warning.
So that supposed anomaly really isn't.
 
Moving on, Blumenthal engages in a fresh round of anomaly hunting by complaining about the absence of people around the theatre in the wake of the bombing:
Photos supplied by Azov to media in Ukraine and abroad invariably depict the bombed-out theater without any people in sight, living or dead.
So is Blumenthal alleging that most civilians evacuated the theatre before the bombing? We don't know. However, if we were to look at the main image supplied in Blumenthal's article:
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And one of the embedded tweets:

We don't see any people. Wanna know why? Because everyone in that area is either hidden behind the walls, or reduced to ash from the bombing. And if you're still alive and evacuating from the theatre, you don't go through the bombed areas that would be littered with rubble, as it would make your evacuation longer than it needs to be. So obviously you won't see anyone near these areas. But you may ask, where are the people in these following photos of the theatre? Surely there must have been at least some people trying to rescue others from the rubble?
1653146747672.png
1653146934924.png
Admittedly I don't know as of yet. But just because I don't know doesn't mean that there must be some nefarious conspiracy.

To get a little sidetracked, here is a tweet pointing out the absence of the cars from the second image above as some proof of a conspiracy:

Now why did the cars drive off? To gather supplies for those in the theatre? To bring people who have had their homes destroyed into the theatre? I don't know as of now, but just because I don't know doesn't mean that therefore the bombing was a false flag.

If anyone can share their takes on why all this is the case, please let me know.

To be continued...
 
There are thousands of mundane moments, only some of these ever get documented. This line of reasoning implies that all mundane moments get documented, and hence all important moments should, too, but in fact only a small fraction of mundane moments ever is recorded.
But you can't record a special moment unless you have advance warning.
So that supposed anomaly really isn't.
I think the alleged anomaly is that given that Azov does have cameras capable of taking photos as indicated by the photograph in my post above Blumenthal supplied with the Azov watermark, it probably follows that the cameras they had can also film videos. So why didn't they do so? Ergo conspiracy.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Now why did the cars drive off? To gather supplies for those in the theatre?
You can see signs of soot in the first picture, so there was a fire after the bombing that had been extinguished. This means the picture was taken hours after the event. It goes against common sense to expect civilians to remain in a bombed-out, burned out building.

The post-bombing picture shows that the car park was not affected by the air strike. Common sense says the cars would have been used after the air strike to transport injured people to a hospital, and to evacuate everyone else. There's no reason to leave the cars there when the people have left, and no reason to assume the cars left before the people did.
 
Blumenthal then claims that a photo before the bombing shows a group of men placing pallets at one of the sides of the building, and then says the side was destroyed after the bombing. The implication being that those pallets must have been bombs. Oh, and there weren't any women there in case you needed another round of anomaly hunting:
One day before the bombing, on March 15, a group of military-aged men were photographed in front of the Mariupol theater. No women were visible anywhere in the image. The men can be seen placing pallets against the side of the building, ferrying large objects across the theater grounds, and cutting down a fir tree.

According to Human Rights Watch’s report on the theater incident, which contained no local testimony gathered after the attack, the men were “cook[ing] food on an open fire and collect[ing] water in buckets.”

As seen below, pallets and other objects were piled against the same area of the building hit by an explosive charge the following day.
The report by Human Rights Watch Blumenthal mentioned, to finally link it as I forgot to in my previous post, states the following:
Human Rights Watch was unable to reach anyone in Mariupol by phone on March 16 to determine whether civilians had left the theater immediately prior to the attack. The doctor, however, shared four photographs of the theater that she said she took on the morning of March 15, on her way out of the city, including one that shows groups of people in civilian clothes cooking food on an open fire and carrying water buckets just outside of the theater. No military vehicles or personnel are visible in the photographs.
So the photo in question was took by a doctor from the city, and the doctor never reported anything suspicious about it, and never mentioned anything resembling a bomb being placed anywhere among the heap of objects in front of the theatre. You'd think the doctor would have noted any bomb in the vicinity since they're the one who photographed the men, right? So why didn't they? And mentioning that HRW wasn't able to obtain testimony from residents post-attack is redundant when the photo itself was taken pre-attack. And the fact that HRW can't contact anyone in Mariupol post-attack does not weaken any case that they make since it is hard to contact anyone in a city where basic cellular infrastructure and electricity is non-existent.

Blumenthal then shares one of the photos provided by Human Rights Watch:
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And provided another image of allegedly the same area after the bombing:
1653162220931.png
Given the way all this information is framed, it is obvious that Blumenthal is trying to imply that it is a false flag carried out by those civilian men, given his reference to them as being ''military age''.

Now of course men being military age doesn't mean shit if the men are civilians, to which those in the photo certainly are. And the reason you don't see any women in this shot is because, newsflash, they were probably in the theatre. It's not uncommon around the world for women to take shelter while the men get sent to do the risky jobs in a literal warzone such as gathering water in a city where running water has been absent due to all the damage from the combat.

Oh, and as for that image? The pallets in question are ordinary objects you'd find in any city, such as stools, corrugated iron sheets, assorted furniture, wooden pallets etc... Nothing which you can hide a bomb in, especially not a bomb that can blow a hole the size of the one seen in the theatre. This also isn't even mentioning that if the explosion was from the side, we would not be seeing anything close to a hole in the approximate centre of the building, but rather a gaping hole in the side with a collapsed roof, instead of a roof that's completely destroyed. The men in question were only carrying buckets, most likely of water. So yeah, try harder Blumenthal, you ain't convincing anyone of your conspiracy.

Blumenthal then claimed that no one was killed by the blast:
While the theater appeared to have been heavily damaged – “they bombed the building to ashes,” claimed Ponomarenko – it turned out that not one person was killed by the blast.

“It’s a miracle,” the Kyiv Independent reporter chirped.
However, what Ponomarenko actually reported was that civilians survived in the basement when the airstrike happened. Not that all civilians in the basement survived, or even that no one was killed:

In addition, the basement =/= the entire building. Even if Ponomarenko claimed that no one in the basement was killed, it doesn't mean he claimed that no one was killed in the theatre period. In addition, to quote an AP investigation:
Close to 600 people died in the Russian airstrike on the Mariupol drama theater on March 16, evidence from an Associated Press investigation suggests. That’s around twice the city government’s estimate of 300 in the deadliest single known attack against civilians in the Ukraine war.
So Blumenthal lied again.

To be continued...
 
Blumenthal then whines about how the ABC has reported that hundreds of civilians sheltering in the building have gone missing, complaining that as the seating capacity of the theatre is 680 people per Wikipedia, it couldn't have possibly housed more than that:
In a 7-minute-long March 17 package blending news and agitprop, ABC News claimed that all civilians had been saved from the theater, but that “hundreds were still missing.” Data on the modest-sized theater reproduced on its Ukrainian Wikipedia page puts its maximum seating capacity at 680, which raises questions about how “hundreds” could have fit in its basement.
Well maybe the seating capacity of a theatre =/= the amount of people a theatre building itself can physically hold, especially if the theatre has additional room in the basement, which is not the same as the theatre proper plus seating.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Blumenthal then claims that a photo before the bombing shows a group of men placing pallets at one of the sides of the building, and then says the side was destroyed after the bombing. The implication being that those pallets must have been bombs.
Except that the hole isn't even where these "explosive palettes" (actually: firewood) were stored. Compare:
1653162047815.png
1653162220931.png
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Well maybe the seating capacity of a theatre =/= the amount of people a theatre building itself can physically hold
a theatre isn't a bus or airplane

typically, in an intermission, most of the audience leaves the auditorium, and somehow still fits in the building, and that's not even considering the backstage area, workshops, prop and costume storage, rehearsal rooms, or administrative offices.

a theatre makes an ok shelter because the lavatories are designed to accommodate that audience during the intermission, so you know if you put a large group of people there, they'll have a place to pee.
 
To call back to the message from the Komsomolskaya Pravda, there is this tweet put out by political scientist Neil Abrams that mentions its ownership by Russian oligarch Grigory Berezkin, who has a reputation for buying out media outlets and repurposing their editorial stance to align with the Kremlin:

He also allegedly has ties to the Kremlin and the Russian state energy company Gazprom:

Now I'm not familiar with the Russian language, and I haven't been able to obtain any reliable sources corroborating the info. So if anyone can help, it would be much appreciated.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Now I'm not familiar with the Russian language, and I haven't been able to obtain any reliable sources corroborating the info.
What do you need corroborated? Grigory Berezkin owning the major stake in the paper is a matter of public record, as is the status of the paper as a best-selling tabloid.
Article:
In January 2015 a front-page article in Komsomolskaya Pravda suggested that the United States had orchestrated the Charlie Hebdo shooting.[8]

In May 2017, columnist Alisa Titko went viral for writing that the English city of Manchester was "full of fat people" and that she found the sight of same-sex love "disgusting".[9][10][11]

Seems this paper is about as credible as any other tabloid (read: not very much), even before propaganda issues come into it.
 
What do you need corroborated? Grigory Berezkin owning the major stake in the paper is a matter of public record, as is the status of the paper as a best-selling tabloid.
Article:
In January 2015 a front-page article in Komsomolskaya Pravda suggested that the United States had orchestrated the Charlie Hebdo shooting.[8]

In May 2017, columnist Alisa Titko went viral for writing that the English city of Manchester was "full of fat people" and that she found the sight of same-sex love "disgusting".[9][10][11]

Seems this paper is about as credible as any other tabloid (read: not very much), even before propaganda issues come into it.
I was more specifically referring to the alleged ties between Berezkin & the Kremlin.
 
I was more specifically referring to the alleged ties between Berezkin & the Kremlin.
I think his "close ties to the Kremlin" are more so insinuated through his history rather than any hard factors. One of the richest people in Russia, has sat on government administered policy boards, major player in the Energy sector. The last 2 are ones that'd generally have "ties" with their host country no matter where you go.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I was more specifically referring to the alleged ties between Berezkin & the Kremlin.
there was some other news outlet he bought out after that had been too critical of the Kremlin, with Kremlin pressure rumored to facilitate the takeover
Article:
RBC announced Prokhorov was selling the company in April 2017, sparking speculation that Kremlin pressure may have prompted the decision.

Three of the outlet's top editors left the publication in May 2016 amid allegations that the outlet's investigative reporting on the Panama Papers scandal had angered government officials.

In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, former chief editor Yelizaveta Osetinskaya compared RBC's work to "waving a red rag" at the Kremlin.
his bio makes him an oligarch, can you be Russian oligarch and not have ties to the Kremlin? Can you do this if you don't have connections:
Article:
Rusenergosbyt LLC, owned by Grigory Berezkin, supplied Gazprom concern with electricity at a price 60% higher than the market value
 
there was some other news outlet he bought out after that had been too critical of the Kremlin, with Kremlin pressure rumored to facilitate the takeover
Article:
RBC announced Prokhorov was selling the company in April 2017, sparking speculation that Kremlin pressure may have prompted the decision.

Three of the outlet's top editors left the publication in May 2016 amid allegations that the outlet's investigative reporting on the Panama Papers scandal had angered government officials.

In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, former chief editor Yelizaveta Osetinskaya compared RBC's work to "waving a red rag" at the Kremlin.
his bio makes him an oligarch, can you be Russian oligarch and not have ties to the Kremlin? Can you do this if you don't have connections:
Article:
Rusenergosbyt LLC, owned by Grigory Berezkin, supplied Gazprom concern with electricity at a price 60% higher than the market value
May help clear some confusion also but "the kremlin" =/= Putin. Same as with being an oligarch. You can have "ties with the Kremlin" through someone who has a posting there. Doesn't necessarily need to be some complex relationship either. Pretty much all of the oligarchs are going to have ties to the Kremlin because there's also policy function that cover all those sectors. I know someone who has a family member who works there, by extension I have ties. Does that *actually* mean anything given the context? No not really. "Ties" isn't entirely fruitful for that reason.
 
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