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Special Report London-based organisation accused of endangering lives in Ukraine by publishing personal details on online ‘traitors’ list

A LONDON-BASED organisation linked to the Ukrainian government has been accused of recklessly endangering lives by publishing a “traitors” list with personal data, photographs and even family details of supposed Russian collaborators — including children. 

Molfar, which describes itself as an open source investigations company, works out of a building close to Hyde Park employing 35 “highly qualified analysts” and up to 200 volunteers. 

Founded by CEO Artem Starosiek, the group says its main aim is to compile details of Russian soldiers and others it says must be punished for war crimes. 

Its “Book of Orcs” — a derogatory term used to describe Russian soldiers — encourages people to send information so analysts can identify “every Russian occupier.” 

Molfar, which is partnered with Ukraine’s Ministry for Digital Transformation and US soft power organisation USAid, has published the personal details of 1,391 “Russian war criminals” at the time of writing.  

But the group does not merely focus on Russian soldiers. One article, titled Collaborators of The City of Kupyansk: A Corrupt Military Person and Child Vandals, offers the photographs, names, addresses and phone numbers of young people who it says were part of a youth council there. 

It accuses them of the “public destruction of symbols of Ukrainian statehood” after they destroyed a decorative stucco of the coat of arms of Ukraine, which Molfar said was filmed by “a Russian propagandist.”

The article acknowledges that the youngsters involved have just turned 18. But, Molfar says, “they are old enough for their decision to become separatists and join the invaders to have full legal consequences.”

The article by Grisha Misilyuk ends: “Molfar remind that all collaborators will be punished. It’s only a matter of time.”

A second article, on fashion designer Artemiy Lebedev, posts not only his personal data but that of all his family members, along with photographs and the interests of his young children. It encourages readers to visit him, offering to refund the travel receipts with Molfar wishing he “retrain as a designer of gravestones.”

“Money is of no use to the dead, but Artemiy will feed hungry children with it. See you soon Artemiy!” it concludes. 

Journalist Eva Bartlett said there were “disturbing” comparisons with a list of “undesirables” published on the Myrotvorets (Peacemakers) website following the 2014 Maidan uprising.

The list of up to 200,000 people, including more than 4,500 journalists, has been described as a kill list which she herself was included on, after she reported on the Donbass region and appeared at a war crimes tribunal in Russia this year. 

A number of people linked to that list have ended up dead, including Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli who was shot by Ukrainian armed forces in the Donbass in 2014. 

Molfar came to the attention of the Star after it sent a press release last week offering to dish dirt on Grayzone journalist Max Blumenthal, who it accused of taking “money from the Kremlin to run an aggressive campaign against Ukraine.” 

Mr Blumenthal strenuously denied the allegations and told the Star he had not been given a copy of the file.

“Molfar has been too cowardly to provide its dodgy dossier to my colleagues, so I have not seen it in full. But the claims made in its mass email are totally false, as I and the Grayzone do not receive state funding. Unlike the USAID-backed smear factory at Molfar, our support is entirely grassroots and reader-based.

“This half-baked attempt at intimidating me for my factual journalism pales in comparison to the repression and violence meted out by the US-backed post-Maidan regime against the many Ukrainian journalists, politicians and human rights activists who have dissented against its  corrupt and authoritarian rule,” he said.

Responding to questions from the Star, Molfar CMO Daria Verbytska, who previously worked for the Ukrainian government as its co-ordinator on foreign affairs, said the group focuses on “informational resistance to Russian aggression”

“We condemn the actions of both representatives of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and collaborators and openly spread information about war criminals and traitors because history must remember not only protagonists but also antagonists,” Ms Verbytska added. 

She stressed that Molfar never uses “violent methods of resistance” and does not condemn people for their faith, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation or political views.

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