Meanwhile in Spain: Anatoliy Shariy vs Sveta Nuzhna
Anatoly Shariy, a pro-Kremlin propagandist detained in Spain on May 5 at Ukraine’s request, has been released on bail and must remain in town. He still lives in the same mansion in Tarragona where activists from the Barcelona Maidan have come to protest twice since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24.
Shariy continues to record videos that discredit the government of Ukraine, including its laws, and gives prominence to the Russian agenda. On May 16, he shot a video “I’m scared to live in Spain”, in which he describes recent actions during the “Immortal Regiment” march in Madrid. The largely pro-Russian movement originated in West Siberia but has spread to other areas and commemorates those who fought or died during World War II
Shariy accuses Ukrainian Sveta Nuzhna, an activist who came out with a Ukrainian flag and poster, as being a violator of the law, a provocateur and that she beat the police.
Why did this incident happen on May 8 and could the Spanish authorities have prevented it? Undoubtedly.
More than 6,000 people have called for a ban on the “Immortal Regiment” in Madrid by signing a petition that says:
“During the reign of President Vladimir Putin, this holiday has become a demonstration of Russia’s military power. Thousands of civilians dressed in military uniforms, including children and babies, come out to the parades and paramilitary marches with military symbols and aggressive banners. This year, the Russian Embassy in Spain is organizing one of these marches on the streets of Madrid. We believe that in the midst of a military conflict in which the Russian army invaded Ukraine in flagrant violation of international law, Russian military holidays are inappropriate when we welcome thousands of Ukrainian refugees. We will not allow the streets of Madrid to be filled with symbols of Russian militarism promoting weapons, imperialism and xenophobia.”
Nevertheless, the march went ahead as planned. Anti-Putin activists naturally came out to the streets against the “Immortal Regiment”. One of them was political refugee Nuzhna. Carrying a poster emblazoned with “Russians, why are you killing us?” and the flag of Ukraine on her shoulders, Nuzhna entered the column of the “Immortal Regiment”, shouting “Glory to Ukraine!” She was brutally detained after Liu Sivaya, a well-known pro-Kremlin Spanish blogger participating in the “Immortal Regiment”, called the police.
One of the police officers pressed the Ukrainian activist to the ground, then four officers carried her away. After interacting with the police, she was left with eight bruises.
Nuzhna was searched and locked in a temporary detention facility for five hours. In total, she spent 32 hours at the police station, where she discussed her humiliating treatment. Now Nuzhna must remain in the town and is obliged to report regularly to the authorities. A case has been opened against her about an alleged attack that she reportedly launched against the officers detaining her.
On May 10, Nuzhna wrote on her Facebook page: “I will be judged for a mythical beating of a Spanish policeman. This is a clear lie and intimidation of Ukrainians by the Spanish government, which allowed a march of our killers in Madrid. Here is a video of my crime. The video shows how I “beat” a police officer… You can see in the video what happened next in the video. They believe that we should be silent when we are being killed by racists.”
In discussing this episode, Shariy comments on an interview by Ukrainian Channel 24. He calls the journalist “stupid” (this is his usual level of misogyny, shaming and xenophobia), and brandishes the TV channel itself as “garbage” (typical of Shariy when referring to any Ukrainian media). Shariy insults Nuzhna (referring to her as “idiotic”) and claims that she attacked the police and “slung mud” at Spain.
In addition to the request for extradition to Ukraine, applications have been filed against Shariy relating to threatening life, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny and other crimes, yet he hasn’t changed his rhetoric.
Criticizing Nuzhna, Shariy calls Spain’s help “colossal”, despite the well-known sad situation with refugees. Many Ukrainians prefer to return home under bombing than face the indifference of the Spanish bureaucratic machine and general lack of support.
Russian propaganda spread by people like Shariy is the reason why many Spaniards, even in the third month of the war, protest against the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine and consider the Ukrainian diaspora to be “Nazis”. How deep is the misunderstanding? After a concert in Barcelona by Putin supporter Emir Kusturica was initially canceled following hundreds of appeals, it is now listed as “rescheduled” on the website of the Palace of Catalan Music.
Certain media now call Shariy an “innocent” fighter for human rights, who is being unfairly persecuted by Ukrainian “Nazis”. Moreover, a number of articles have been published which refer to the “bloody cradle” brought to Shariy’s house as a threat to his child.
The cradle, along with a TV, computer and underwear, represent just some of the items that Russian marauders stole. On a microwave with traces of “blood” was written “Shariy is a Russian propagandist responsible for the genocide in Bucha.”
Voting during the Eurovision Song Contest Final on May 14 arguably shows just how low the level of popular support is for Ukraine within Spain now. As for the official position, the Spanish authorities have not yet banned any manifestations of denial of the genocide of the Ukrainian people; they have not yet recognized what is happening in Ukraine as genocide; and they do not prohibit the Russian military’s symbol “Z” from the streets. In fact, a lot of “Z” graffiti can be found in Spanish cities. If a resident were to appeal to the local government to have the graffiti removed then it would be done, but on a general basis rather than because of what it represents.
As things stand, two people in Spain, one pro-Putin and the other anti-Putin, are now unable to leave their towns and are required to report to the police. The Ukrainian Diaspora, which demanded for many years to extradite the traitor Shariy and ban the Immortal Regiment, is doing its utmost to protect Nuzhna. As for what justice will be meted out by the Spanish authorities for these two very different cases – time will tell.
Translated from Russian by Yeva Podurian