A conspiracy group hijacks an event dedicated to the war in Ukraine held by New York University

On March 2, a couple of protesters interrupted a conversation about the war in Ukraine between Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats and Atlantic staffer Ann Applebaum.

Zeynep Zeimler

On March 2, Professor Yevgenia Albats held a conversation with Ann Applebaum, a staff writer for The Atlantic and author of the history of Russia. (Zeynep Seimler for WSN)

Two protesters from a group linked to fascism and anti-Semitism crashed Thursday at an event featuring Polish-American author Anne Applebaum and Russian journalist Yevgenia Albatz.

The pair, who appear to have ties to a conspiracy group known as the Schiller Institute, confronted Albats and Applebaum, who is a staff writer for The Atlantic, about the United States’ alleged role in the recent Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions. in Europe and its sanctions against Syria at an event hosted by New York University’s Jordanian Center for Russian Advanced Studies.

The Schiller Institute is one of a network of organizations promoting the ideology of the late conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche. spreader of the ideas of fascism, anti-Semitism and anti-ecology. It was founded by LaRouche’s wife, Helga Sepp-LaRouche.

Two people face each other during the event while other participants sit around them.
During the event, protesters clashed with Professor Yevgenia Albats. (Courtesy of Christopher Atwood)

Keenan Thistlethwaite, one of the protesters, said that the US is responsible for a series of explosions in September that destroyed Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, a pair of gas pipelines running from Russia to Germany. Similar claims were made by Russia, although the rest of the world avoided any accusations. No conclusive evidence has been published to support Thistlethwaite’s claim.

“Can you call for an international investigation into this Nord Stream diversion?” Thistlethwaite asked the panelists. “Can you accept the fact that we have terrorized nations around the world and no longer stand for democracy?”

USA already opposed the pipelines before the war in Ukraine because of fears that they would make Europe dependent on Russia for energy. As neither Germany nor the European Union approved the use of any of the pipelines at the time of the damage, Europe’s energy supply was not affected by the incidents. However, the terrorist attacks were caused by one of the largest spill of greenhouse gases ever recorded.

Thistlethwaite also questioned a now deleted tweet from Radaslaw Sikorski, Applebaum’s husband, after the Nord Stream incident. In his tweet, Sikorski — a former Polish foreign minister and member of the European Parliament — captioned a photo of the gas leak with the caption, “Thank you, USA.” Applebaum explained that the tweet was a joke and that Sikorsky immediately removed it because it was misinterpreted by the public.

After someone ushered Thistlethwaite out of the room, Daniel Burke, another protester who recorded the first altercation, questioned whether the United States was democratic. He also reported US sanctions against Syria, stating that it is wrong to punish a country when 90% of it is in “extreme poverty”. The US temporarily eased sanctions against Syria after the recent earthquake in the northwest of the country.

“How can we claim that the US is a moral power?” – said Burke. “My plea is that you give up this insanity of saying, ‘We are democrats and [Russia is] highway”.

Before the debate was interrupted by protesters, Albatz and Applebaum had a discussion a new union between a number of authoritarian states, including China, Russia, Iran and Venezuela. Russia is seeking military support from countries in the fight against Ukraine, and is also sending resources to the autocratic regime, including 24 fighter jets to Iran.

“They hate us in the broadest sense,” Applebaum said. “Not just Americans, but they don’t like liberalism, they don’t like democracy, they don’t like the language of democracy.”

Albatz and Applebaum also discussed a recent report from the Yale School of Public Health, which exposed the Russian program of radicalization and displacement of Ukrainian children. The program is allegedly aimed at raising a new generation of Putin supporters. Researchers working on the report accused the program of violating international law.

“This is an attempt to “Russify” the region. In the process, it turned out to require a tremendous amount of violence,” Applebaum said. “This was not an organized attempt at mass murder, but an attempt to eliminate social leaders.”

Christopher Atwood, a participant who works in media and communications for the Ukrainian-American nonprofit Razom, said he often attends discussions about the war and tries to bring perspective to Ukraine. Atwood, who also works at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies, added that he was familiar with the LaRouche activists, as the protesters called themselves. According to him, the group often holds protests at Columbia University.

“LaRouche activists are very active in New York,” Atwood said. “They protest outside of Colombia all the time, and the topics of conversation are so obvious every time, and the tactics are always very similar.”

Contact Clara Spray at [email protected]

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