Web users deride business card waved in eastern Ukraine as proof of ultranationalist attack

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 10:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 10:49pm

A business card brandished by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine as proof that a deadly attack on their checkpoint was the work of ultranationalists quickly became an object of derision on the internet.

Following the attack on the checkpoint near the flashpoint town of Slavyansk, the self-proclaimed mayor, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, presented a business card to the international press which he said was proof of the involvement of the ultranationalist group Pravy Sektor ("Right Sector").

The red and black card purportedly belonged to Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the group, and was allegedly found in a burned-out car near the site of the attack, in which at least two pro-Russian rebels were killed on Sunday.

But many pro-Western Ukrainians found it difficult to take the claim seriously.

Within hours, mocked-up images featuring the card in comically sinister or outright ludicrous scenarios appeared, and a hashtag in Ukrainian meaning "Yarosh business card" was trending on Twitter.

Among the hastily assembled photo montages: German Chancellor Angela Merkel pointing to one of the cards poking out of Russian President Vladimir Putin's top pocket; the card being wielded by Harry Potter's nemesis Voldemort; and Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill each with one of the cards at the Yalta Conference of 1945, which took place on the Crimean peninsula.

Adding to the sense of farce, US news network CNN called the number on the card only to reach a baffled-sounding woman who said she had nothing to do with Right Sector.

The group itself described the whole episode as "propaganda worse than that of Nazi Germany".

"As if the militants of Pravy Sektor carry Yarosh's business cards with them'" said the group's spokesman, Artem Skoropadski.

Right Sector was at the forefront of protests that forced the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Kremlin president, Viktor Yanukovych. Its nationalistic outlook is viewed with disquiet, verging on disgust, by a large part of the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine.

Agence France-Presse