Email Suggests Morning Star Asked Israel Shamir Personally for Permission to Publish anti-Pussy Riot Article

Last week, the UK far-left Morning Star newspaper attracted criticism and condemnation for publishing an article by the notorious figure of Israel Shamir on the subject of Pussy Riot. Shamir advanced the theory that the trial had been orchestrated as “a weapon against Putin” by “oligarchs, big business, the media lords, the pro-Western intelligentsia of Moscow, and Western interests which naturally prefer Russia divided against itself”, noting in particular the alleged role of “Marat Gelman, a Russian Jewish art collector”. Shamir further opined that:

The Russians proved that they care for Christ as much as the French care for Auschwitz, and this shocked the Europeans who apparently thought ‘hate laws’ may be applied only to protect Jews and gays.

This naturally brought to mind Shamir’s well-known denialist views about the Holocaust, and his conspiracy theories about Jews. The Morning Star removed the item a few hours after publication, and issued a statement explaining that the article had been “syndicated from Counterpunch in good faith without knowledge of the author’s background” and that the paper does not share Shamir’s opinions.

“Syndication” has the connotation of articles from one source being published in another through a more or less automatic arrangement. However, it was noted by Jim Denham that one particularly egregious sentence had been dropped from the Morning Star version of the article: this was that “Western governments call for more freedom for the anti-Christian Russians, while denying it for holocaust revisionists in their midst”. Further, Shamir has now published what purports to  be an email from the Morning Star asking him personally for permission to reproduce the article:

Unfortunately, we run on a shoestring so we’re unable to pay a fee but I hope you will agree as it will bring your challenging piece to a wider readership.

Inevitably, Shamir now attacks the Morning Star for having supposedly given in to “the pressure of the Jewish lobby”, and he goes on to identify “enemies of the Church in Russia” with a number of non-practising Jews who “apparently inherited their hatred to the Church from their forefathers”.

Shamir is a convert to Orthodoxy, having been baptised by the controversial and dubious Bishop Atallah Hanna. He is also well-known for his links with the authoritarian regime in Belarus; in December, Charter97 reported that he had met with Uladzimri Makei, Head of the Belarusian President’s Administration. Shamir has been described as “representing” Wikileaks in Russia and Belarus, and there is a concern that Wikileaks cables concerning opposition groups may have been brought to the attention of the authorities. It should be recalled that Belarus President Lukashenko also receives strong personal support from the Russian Patriarch.


Shamir’s views on Pussy Riot put him at odds with Julian Assange. Assange, famously speaking from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, compared the sentencing of Pussy Riot with the extradition case against him:

There is unity in the oppression. There must be absolute unity and determination in the response.

However, this was just a couple of days after the Pussy Riot sentencing, and was perhaps opportunistic; the Guardian noted:

Some observers pointed out that Assange avoided any reference to dissidents or free speech campaigners in Russia while carrying out interviews with international figures as part of a series broadcast exclusively by Russia Today.

Evgeny Morozov, the author of the Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, tweeted sarcastically: “Great that Assange supports Pussy Riot. Perhaps, he can have them on his TV show. Oh wait….”

Shamir’s view of the rape allegations against Assange was noted by the Guardian in January 2011:

On 27 August, in Counterpunch, a small radical US publication, Shamir said Assange was framed by “spies” and “crazy feminists”. He alleged there had been a “honeytrap”. On 14 September, Shamir then attacked “castrating feminists and secret services”, writing that one of the women involved, whom he deliberately named, had once discussed the Cuban opposition to Castro in a Swedish academic publication “connected with” someone with “CIA ties”.

Meanwhile, Assange has also reportedly suggested – and then withdrawn – claims of a Jewish conspiracy against him, in an exchange via telephone with Ian Hislop.