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Meta Corporation’s decision to take the Ukrainian military formation Azov off the list of dangerous organisations

Source: Russian MFA, Maria Zakharova (Full briefing)

I would like to spend a moment discussing the American Meta Corporation’s decision to take the Ukrainian military formation Azov off the list of dangerous organisations. It appears Azov is no longer dangerous.

Meta Corporation has once again showed “true humanity” by taking this absurd politicised step. Does anyone have any doubt that this company is not a respectable and peaceful organisation, but an extremist organisation? It’s an actual terrorist cell. The fact that an organisation that positions itself as a facilitator of communication for businesses, people-to-people contacts and information transfer purposes, is doing this kind of things on its website, once again shows the absolute correctness of the actions that the Russian Federation has taken against it. Now, Azov will be able to open a social media account and promote violence and criminal warfare methods.

I remember a time when a Meta account was blocked for posting a photo of a sculpture by Michelangelo’s David or paintings by Botticelli. It’s not that they could have blocked it, but they went ahead and blocked it. As they put it, it violated the rules of the community. These were photos of world art masterpieces without aggression, violence, or ambiguous scenes, or images that would be inappropriate for children. No, these works of art are displayed in the museums of the world’s capitals that are open to children. Children who come to a museum can see Michelangelo’s David. It is not illegal. Also, more often than not, the museums have a research department. However, when you posted a photo, a reproduction of the David sculpture on Facebook, your account was blocked immediately, because it might hurt someone’s feelings, whereas Azov, with its extremism, is not hurting anyone’s feelings. Did we get it right?

These are not double standards, not even savagery or barbarism. The barbarians had an ideology of their own, which is unacceptable to us and which went down in history precisely under the name “barbarism,” but at least it had its own logic. The logic of the Meta Corporation contradicts everything that it stated a year or two ago. On the one hand, tolerance, on the other, sweeping restrictions on everything that until recently caused no objections. At the same time, they greenlighted extremism, terrorism and truly racist, Nazi and neo-Nazi practices. How is it even possible? Not only do they engage in calls for violence, but they also engage in committing widespread acts of disinformation and spreading fake claims. This decision underscores the fact that the boundaries of the “freedom of expression” and neoliberal values that are cherished by Westerners are very fluid and lined with self-justifications (even praise) of openly extremist ideology and activities. They themselves are turning their backs on the experience that they have gained in recent decades.

The West is ready to give voice to people who openly support the ideas of neo-Nazism and hatred on a national and ethnic basis. When did Azov hide this? Not only did it never hide it, it put it front and center. This is their logic. It is not just the reincarnation of Nazi symbols, but also of Nazi ideology. It is the revival of meanings, and they are a natural motivation for action. It is the formation of a future seen in this way: segregation, division into right and wrong, into those who are worthy and those who are unworthy. Let me remind you that it was no coincidence that the Azov battalion fighters were on the Meta blacklist earlier: many of them have already committed illegal acts based on their criminal convictions. What are these Facebook rules that can change without any logic? This is not how it happens. There must be reasonable explanations based on facts.

Any concessions for Azov extremists and terrorists are unacceptable. It is impossible to separate good from bad among such a criminal contingent. These people are already sworn to evil. This is why, in accordance with Russian law, this entire nationalist paramilitary structure is included in the unified national federal list of terrorist organisations without exceptions or caveats. This structure, infected with nationalist ideology, has deep roots in the past, but at the same time it bears fruit to this day.

There is no reason to believe that the part of the Azov battalion that was legalised under the guise of becoming part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was somehow re-educated. On the contrary, they recruit into their ideology those who perhaps believe truly and sincerely in defending Ukraine as their duty. Now this is an ideological brotherhood. This contingent organically blended into the Ukrainian army, on the one hand, because of their complete indoctrination with hard-line ultra-right ideas, and on the other hand, in order to whitewash neo-Nazis in the eyes of the public and further promote the spread of their misanthropic ideas among Ukrainian soldiers and foreign mercenaries. It is time to admit the obvious: neo-Nazism is an ugly political ideology used by the Kiev regime and its Western sponsors to justify their crimes in Ukraine. But the Azov battalion should not be under any illusions. Massive evidence of the atrocities committed by them, including massacres of civilians, has been documented and proven in court. Their bloody deeds will not go unpunished.

The current decision of Meta’s management, crazy as it looks, is part and parcel of the strategy of the West to conduct a hybrid war against Russia on the field of information confrontation. Functionaries of the Kiev regime say openly that they agreed on such additional support with Meta representatives in Davos. The fact that this place has become the centre of some secret-sacred dark meanings and forces is obvious, judging by their wild and insane statements. It turns out that this is a platform for legalising extremism in cyber environment. And this allegedly independent transnational corporation, which considers itself a pioneer in implementing a responsible approach to information distribution by IT businesses, clearly adapts itself to the US authorities, which cover and justify criminals who are on the side of the Kiev regime in every possible way.

Where is Meta’s integrity, which was declared 10 years ago? Back then, it was forming the foundations and expanding its own impressive list of organisations and individuals who lost access to the Meta platforms for terrorism, incitement to violence, justification of far-right ideas and radical violent actions. Where did it all go? You provided reports on it and were proud of it. We can see the blatant deception of the general public, primarily the users of Meta products themselves. We have long identified such an unscrupulous game for ourselves, so once again the legitimacy of the adoption at the national level on March 21, 2022 of a court decision recognising the activities of social networks controlled by Meta as extremist is confirmed.

Read full: Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, February 1, 2023