Extremists finding new life as defenders of Putin's Ukraine invasion: report
Vladimir Putin. Photo via Brendan Smialowski for AFP.

According to reports from the Daily Beast and the conservative Bulwark, extremists from both the far-right and the far-left are finding not only common ground in defending Russian President Vladimir Putin's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine but are also making a nice living pushing propaganda for the Russian strongman.

Writing for the Beast, Mathew Foresta suggested that former Russia Today personalities like internet comedian Lee Camp and commentator Sameera Khan have found new life for their careers now that Russia has pulled the plug on RT.

In case of Camp, who has mastered "what-aboutism" to blow off concerns about Russia's human rights abuses in Ukraine, Foresta wrote that despite Camp pleading poverty on Facebook and Twitter, he is still pulling in a decent amount of money by blaming America and President Joe Biden for the Ukraine attacks.

According to Foresta, "In March, the former TV host found himself out of a job when RT America shut down in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Make no mistake though: Camp does not find himself destitute. Since RT’s closure he has continually directed his followers to give to him on the fundraising platform Patreon. There he has more than 1,900 donors giving in tiers of $5, $10, $25, and $90. Even assuming his supporters mostly sign up for the lowest one, this would ostensibly net him thousands of dollars a month, possibly six figures a year," before pointedly adding, "A strong reward for a self-styled leftist, anti-war, anti-imperialist who has seen fit to deny repression and atrocities the world over while often putting forward narratives friendly to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine."

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Writing that Camp, "... sometimes claims to be against the war, offering the mildest criticism of Russia, yet the vast majority of his posts are critical of Ukraine as they face invasion from a larger, stronger power," Foresta mainatined that the ex-RT comedian lards his Twitter posts with war misinformation that favors the invading forces.

Case in point in how Camp operates, the report notes an interview he did with former disgraced U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter who claimed "there is a battalion of Azov in 'every brigade' of the Ukrainian Armed Forces—a reference to the notorious neo-Nazi Azov battalion," which has been debunked. As Foresta wrote, "While the far right does have some disproportionate influence in other sectors of society, nowhere is there any evidence of that much Azov infiltration of the military. Camp never pushed back on this."

Foretsa also pointed at former RT employee Khan, writing, "Some of the most violent, brutal dictators in the world have found in her a staunch defender. With over 90,000 followers, she has tweeted she supports Myanmar’s armed forces (known as the Tatmadaw) over Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected leader whom they deposed in a recent coup. She not only denies the oppression of the Uyghur people in Western China, she actively mocks it."

In an attempt to explain what is going on, he wrote, "In left-wing circles there’s a group derisively referred to as 'tankies.' This patois refers to a minority who support authoritarianism, defend dictators, and deny human rights abuses. In my experience they are a small clique even among the far left and are often held in contempt. Yet they are obnoxiously loud on social media and are starting to gain a following."

He added, "My observations indicate that many subscribe to an ideology known as Campism (not to be confused with Lee Camp). This idea sees the world divided into competing factions. Hence, their often well-justified criticisms of the United States lead them to reflexively defend Beijing or Moscow, the other camps. There is also the extremely strident belief in multi-polarity, with their often cogent critiques of U.S. hegemony leading them to see the need to help rival nations grow powerful in order to challenge and weaken it. Often this means protecting them in order to help their rise."

On the other side of the aisle, Cathy Young, writing for the Bulwark, wrote about Gonzalo Lira, an anti-vaxxer and conspiracy monger who has also joined the pro-Putin camp.

"Lira’s output is pretty much what you’d expect," she wrote, adding, "In mid-February, Lira, who had lived in Kharkiv for some years but had only recently rebranded himself as a foreign correspondent (more on that in a moment), confidently asserted that it was 'completely ridiculous' to speak of a Russian invasion and that 'no one over the age of 12 or with an IQ over 90 seriously believes that the Russians are going to invade anytime soon.'"

She added, "After the invasion, he switched to constantly claiming that the Ukrainian armed forces are about to be crushed and that the war’s only atrocities are being committed by the Ukrainian Nazis. (He does, however, periodically pause to point out that he is not taking any sides and is simply being an objective journalist.)"

As for Lira's pre-Ukraine invasion history, she notes that his commentary shows a strong strain of anti-Semitism.

"The anti-Semitism is far from an isolated instance. Another /pol/ repost last November, shared with Lira’s comment, 'Something I came across—what do you all think'” argues that if the Holocaust was real and the Allies really did save the Jews from the Nazis, Jews should be eternally grateful to white men; but since they constantly revile white people and 'openly encourage non-Whites and non-gentiles to destroy their society and culture,' this means that either Jews are odiously ungrateful to their liberators and 'Hitler was right,' or the Holocaust is 'just propaganda and lies.'"

She added that recent rumor that Lira had been detained by Ukrainian authorities "... was that it offers a useful glimpse of the kind of Westerner who ends up in the pro-Kremlin camp: a conspiracy theorist who hates Western liberalism for empowering women and thinks white men are oppressed and exploited by sluts and Jews."