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Friday, March 14, 2014

Now, the ‘Shut Up Your Mouse, Obama’ Dance Remix

In a recent Egyptian television interview, a woman scolded President Obama.

As The Lede reported earlier this week, many Egyptians have embraced a conspiracy theory, borrowed from the American right, which holds that President Obama is a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and helped install and prop up the country’s first Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, at least until he was forced from power by the military last year.

The related perception that the White House is opposed to Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the runaway favorite to be Egypt’s next president, was given voice recently by an Egyptian woman during a television interview in which she scolded Mr. Obama for his supposed interference in the country’s affairs. Speaking to the camera, in a clip that quickly became popular on YouTube, she lambasted the American president in Arabic and then said, in somewhat broken English: “Shut up your mouth, Obama! Sisi, yes! Sisi, yes! Morsi, no! Morsi, no!”

Thanks largely to the delight that Arab-speaking bloggers took at the woman’s eccentric pronunciation of English â€" particularly that she seemed to say, “Shut up your mouse, Obama!” â€" video of her diatribe has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. It has also given rise to a meme expressed in everything from T-shirts to the inevitable dance remix, put together by a 17-year-old producer from Abu Dhabi, Mujtaba Suliman.

Comments made by an Egyptian woman who scolded President Obama for supposedly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, set to a dance beat by a 17-year-old producer in Abu Dhabi.

Follow Robert Mackey on Twitter @robertmackey.

Witnesses Accounts and Video of a Deadly Attack by Russian Separatists in Ukraine Undercut Kremlin Claims

Video recorded by a Ukrainian news site in the eastern city of Donetsk Thursday showed demonstrators for Ukrainian unity being attacked by pro-Russia activists.

Updated, 2:49 p.m. | The morning after journalists, including my colleague Andrew Roth, watched a pro-Russia mob attack peaceful protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, leaving at least one young demonstrator dead, Russia’s foreign ministry released a statement on Friday claiming that the exact opposite had occurred, and warning ominously that Russia “reserves the right to protect” ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

According to a translation from the official Russian news agency Tass, the ministry blamed the violence on “armed right-wing radical groups” â€" Kremlin shorthand for supporters of the protest movement in Ukraine â€" who had “attacked peaceful demonstrators” calling for Russian intervention.

Although glimpses of the violence were caught on the phones of several witnesses, the clearest footage of the assault was recorded by a reporter for Vice News, Robert King. Mr. King’s video showed the Russian separatists hurling bricks and fireworks at a small number of participants in the anti-war rally, before breaking through police lines to beat the unarmed demonstrators.

Video recorded in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Thursday night by the Vice News reporter Robert King showed supporters of Russian intervention attacking an anti-war rally. Contains graphic images and strong language.

That arresting footage also seems to support the contention of demonstrators who told reporters that the riot police made only a token effort to defend them â€" which is perhaps not surprising since members of the protest movement in Kiev’s main square, or maidan, were engaged in intensely violent clashes with police officers just weeks ago.

Faced with Russian television reports that also reversed the identities of the aggressors and the victims in Donestsk, Ukrainian activists pointed to witness accounts from journalists and bystanders who agreed that the violence was the work of the pro-Kremlin demonstrators, who had gathered under a statue of Lenin before confronting a rally for Ukrainian unity at the opposite side of the square.

Time magazine’s Moscow correspondent, Simon Shuster, reported on Twitter that an anchor on Russian state television even dismissed firsthand reports from journalists in Donetsk as the accounts of “American mercenaries” who are “fighting the information war in Ukraine.”

As they have throughout the tense standoff with Russia, Internet activists in Kiev tried to counteract accounts on Russian state television of the violence in Donetsk by drawing attention to video posted on their YouTube account, including a subtitled interview with one of the beaten demonstrators.

A Ukrainian activist’s subtitled account of the violence in Donetsk on Thursday night.

The activists also identified a 22-year-old political activist who was stabbed to death during the attack.

A local news site showed that flowers were left on the blood-stained pavement Friday in memory of the young man.

Irina Kalinina, a Russian-speaking Ukrainian from Donetsk, wrote in a dispatch for The New Republic earlier this week that the city was not as divided along ethnolinguistic lines as the Kremlin claims, but stressed that state television broadcasts from Moscow have played a role in stoking the tensions there. According to Ms. Kalinina, opponents of Russian military intervention in Donetsk, were “very strong and entirely aware of the future they would lose if they join Russia.” The pro-Russia side, she added, “is mostly represented by aggressive thugs, ‘tourists’ from Russia and older people who watch Russian television and do not use the Internet.”

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, pointed out in a statement in which he also promised to bring the guilty to justice that Russian claims about who was to blame for Thursday’s violence seem to be directly contradicted by the visual evidence available online. “The entire world has seen footage of this terrible massacre,” Mr. Turchynov said, according to Christopher Miller, an editor at the Kyiv Post, reporting for Mashable. “The utmost cynicism of all this is that the blood of Ukrainian citizens who attended a rally in support of our country’s unity was spilled in their own home city,” he added. “This is the true face of the Cossack separatists who were sent there and who triggered the violence. The lives of the people that they supposedly gathered to defend are not important to them and their masters in the Kremlin. Every Ukainian must realize that.”

The Kremlin’s apparent disregard for online evidence of what took place in Donetsk Thursday night comes as the authorities in Moscow have moved aggressively to tighten their grip on Internet news sources â€" reorganizing the state information agency under the control of a homophobic, pro-Kremlin pundit; replacing the independent editors of the radio station Ekho Moskvy and the news site Lenta with loyalists; and barring the country’s best-known opposition blogger, Aleksei Navalny, from using the Internet.

The filtering of the Internet intensified on Thursday, as my colleague Ellen Barry reported, when Russia’s Internet authority announced that it had blocked access to Mr. Navalny’s popular anticorruption blog on the Russian-owned Live Journal platform, as well as more news sites, and that of the opposition political party led by Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion.

Mr. Kasparov, watching from abroad, called the crackdown on web news sources an ominous sign.

Follow Robert Mackey on Twitter @robertmackey.