The media are concealing an outrageous scandal in the context of the Russia sanctions—while distracting with a sideshow by spreading silly lies about Switzerland.
By Felix Abt
Does Der Spiegel, an opinion leader in much of Europe, deserve the disqualification “lying press”? Far be it from me to call mainstream journalists liars across the board, because first of all, they do not always lie, and secondly, they are much more likely to be slackers, that is, they simply do not report on things that do not suit them for ideological or other reasons.
But now Der Spiegel, which calls itself “the leading German news magazine,” has taken the cake: Under the title “Treasury of the Oligarchs” an industrious Spiegel reporter reports from the Swiss cities of “Zug, Basel, Lugano and Zurich” and writes that the “evil” Russian oligarchs are being courted by Switzerland and are in protective hands there.
In doing so, he pretends to have completely missed the fact that the Swiss government had already adopted and slavishly implemented the European Union’s sanctions against Russia and Russian oligarchs many weeks before his “report.” The fact that the government is thus violating the Swiss constitution, which prescribes state-political neutrality and prohibits the country from participating in wars waged by foreign powers, including the economic war against Russia instigated by Washington and Brussels, does not bother Der Spiegel and the many like-minded media in Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere.
Decades ago, Der Spiegel had the reputation of providing independent and critical information about the American empire and its lackeys in German politics. But those are bygone times.
The inclined reader need not be surprised if Der Spiegel, which has mutated into an anti-Russian hate sheet, has just invented the “Swiss welcome culture” for “Russia’s rich, including kleptocrats and war criminals,” while the Swiss government is systematically hunting down rich Russians in Switzerland.
What Der Spiegel also conceals: The lavish Russian parties at this year’s World Economic Forum, to which Russians were no longer admitted, failed to materialize. Instead, Ukrainian oligarchs celebrated all the more exuberantly in Davos—despite the war in their country.
Not only neutrality, but also the humanitarian tradition of granting protection to politically persecuted persons and victims of war have been cornerstones of the Swiss Confederation for centuries. In the meantime, however, the right to asylum is increasingly abused by “do-gooders” in politics. They mainly take in economic refugees from all over the world, including radical Islamists who preach hate in Swiss mosques and collect no small amount of social welfare, costing Swiss taxpayers billions every year. This happens without consequences; instead, a real hunt has been ignited for rich foreigners who pay taxes in Switzerland not too scarce and live inconspicuously—quite contrary to Der Spiegel’s claim of a fictitious “welcome culture” for the rich.
The most famous of the hunted Putin supporters is Andrey Melnichenko, a physicist and successful self-made entrepreneur who rose from internationally decorated banker to industrialist and even built a mega-yacht that Apple founder Steve Jobs tried to buy from him. Melnichenko was born in Belarus. His mother is Ukrainian, his father Belarusian. The entrepreneur owns EuroChem, a leading global fertilizer producer, and coal companies. His companies employ 130,000 people worldwide.
In an interview he told the Swiss Die Weltwoche (the only European newspaper or magazine interested in his fate): “I am being punished because I am Russian and rich.” Yet he is neither an “oligarch,” nor does he belong to “Putin’s inner circle,” as the European Union and Switzerland claim. Even his wife, a Croatian model, was sanctioned.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he declared that the war in Ukraine was “really tragic” and called for peace. A spokesman for Melnichenko also said at the time that he had “no political connections whatsoever.” His lawyers have been protesting in Brussels and Bern for months, but he and his wife have not even received a legal hearing.
In 2021 alone, his company EuroChem shipped 19.1 million tons of fertilizer, which produced 80 million tons of grain and fed 280 million people. Since he and his wife no longer have access to their company and it is being ostracized by banks, authorities and business partners due to the sanctions, fertilizer production is at risk and with it the feeding of millions of people, especially in poor countries.
Even if 15 million tons of grain, once talked about, are blocked in Ukraine, this is only a small part of the huge crop losses now caused by European sanctions against fertilizer producers. Although this is a tangible scandal, Der Spiegel and the rest of the arrogant and always moralizing mainstream do not give a damn.
Melnichenko had been living in St. Moritz, Switzerland, with his wife and children since 2009. After he was put on a European Union sanctions list following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, all his assets, houses, cars, etc., were confiscated. He and his family are not allowed to return to their home in Switzerland. The family, which is treated like criminals in the European Union and Switzerland, has since found refuge in the United Arab Emirates. The Swiss government has not even responded to his letters or those of his lawyers.
Both the European Union and Switzerland have so far cultivated civilized values such as the guarantee of property, the rule of law, the principle nulla poena sine lege (no punishment without law), the presumption of innocence and the right to defend oneself.
Of course, the perfidious media like Der Spiegel do not report on the current relapse into tribal justice, clan detention and arbitrariness. Instead, they prefer to wipe their shoes on Switzerland and brazenly lie about a non-existent “welcome culture” that supposedly welcomes and courts “Russia’s rich, including kleptocrats and war criminals.”
Military wars are generally limited to specific geographic areas. However, economic wars—including sanctions: the weapon of hunger—harm entire populations and can kill even more innocent people.
So, on the one hand, “oligarch” hunts are conducted on steroids while, on the other hand, the deadly European war of hunger against the poorest in the developing world is kept quiet. Of course, this fits perfectly with the European media, which like to preach from the hypocritical moral pulpit.
Felix Abt is the author of “A Capitalist in North Korea: My Seven Years in the Hermit Kingdom” and of “A Land of Prison Camps, Starving Slaves and Nuclear Bombs?”
Source: Covert Action Magazine