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European Union needs to take firm stand against the fake news: the story of Dmytro Fomenko

Plenary session week 22 in Brussels.

We all know what fake news is. We see them constantly on social networks and media. But a month ago, as a journalist, I had a unique experience. I did not just watch fake news spread – I witnessed the organization of a real fake event take place. But first things first.

In early June, I received an announcement from fellow journalists about a round table being held in the European Parliament.

The round table, “Justice and the rule of law in the Ukraine – the case of Dmytry Fomenko,” was scheduled for 16 June. It was allegedly organized by The Press Club Brussels Europe and was supported by the European People’s Party.

I have never heard of Dmytro Fomenko. I did not know who he was and how he was given the opportunity to speak at the European Parliament. I decided to be accredited to this round table through the press service of the European People’s Party (EPP). I was very surprised when the EPP press service explained that they knew nothing about this event.

“In response to your request, I can confirm that neither the European People’s Party nor any of our members of the European Parliament are involved in organizing this event. Furthermore, we have not booked any rooms for the round table, despite what was stated in the announcement that you sent me. Anyone who publishes this information uses the logo of the European People’s Party without permission and creates a forgery,” Pedro López de Pablo, the EPP’s communications director, told reporters.

At the same time, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, a deputy from Germany and Vice-Chairman of the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, denied her participation in the round table as well – even though Dmytro Fomenko announced her participation on his Facebook page.

At first, I thought that this may have been a misunderstanding, and that the round table will actually take place – perhaps with the participation of other members of the European Parliament. After all, there are more than 700 of them. But on June 16, the announced day, no round tables took place.

Now it is clear – it was a hoax, a deception, a scam. A very bold one at that. It must be the first time in the history of the European Parliament when deputies and the organization were used without their consent. And the “coordinator” should be responsible for such audacity.

The EU has strict laws. Fomenko should have apologized and explained the situation. Instead, on June 18, two days after the date of the supposed roundtable, he doubled down via a post on his Facebook. He did not admit his guilt. Instead, he claimed that Viola von Cramon-Taubadel works for the Kremlin and denied her participation in the round table in return for money. According to him, this event was actually going to take place.

Furthermore, in the comments under his post, Fomenko claimed that the deputies who called his round table a fake received from 20,000 to 40,000 euros for their statements.

I was in shock when I read all of this. Fomenko fled Ukraine to the EU because criminal cases have been opened against him for fraud. But what is he doing here? He creates fake round tables, and exploits the names of the European Parliament and the European People’s Party without the organizations’ knowledge. And when he was exposed, he began finger-pointing that they were working for Russia and taking bribes.

No, Dmytro, you are not in Russia or Ukraine anymore. Here, we do not work like that. If you come here, you must live by our principles, not your own.

In my opinion, this case should be indicative of the European Parliament and the European Union as a whole. It should mark a turning point whereby such behavior finally stops. Because for too long now in Europe, external influence has felt at home here. They arrange special operations, turn everything upside down and hold no responsibility. It is time to act.

Peter Jensen, freelance journalist

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