Three Indians, including National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) Chairman P S Raghavan, have figured on a list of individuals prepared by a Ukrainian government agency for, what it says, “promoting Russian propaganda”.
Besides Raghavan — who retired as India’s ambassador to Russia in 2016, others on the list are former National Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda and journalist Saeed Naqvi.
Published on July 14, Ukraine’s “Center for Countering Disinformation”, the list of more than 70 politicians, academicians and activists who are “promoting Russian propaganda” include US Republican Senator Rand Paul, former Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, French right-wing politician Marine Le Pen, American academic and political scientist Prof John Mearsheimer and journalist Glenn Greenwald among others.
British website, UnHerd, first reported the list earlier this week. It said the centre, which was established in 2021 under President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and headed by former lawyer Polina Lysenko, sits within the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine. Its stated aim is to detect and counter “propaganda” and “destructive disinformation” and to prevent the “manipulation of public opinion”.
While there is no official word from Ministry of External Affairs, sources said they would look into the issue but did not attach too much importance to the list.
When contacted, Raghavan — who was re-appointed as the NSAB Chairman about a month ago — told The Indian Express: “On the Ukraine list, I do not wish to comment on its origin or significance, except to say that it is preposterous to describe me as a propagandist for Russia (or any other country).”
Raghavan has served as Joint Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office from 2000 to 2004 where he looked after foreign affairs, nuclear energy, space, defence and national security, and was a former Indian ambassador to Czech Republic (2004-07) and to Ireland (2007-11). He was NSAB Chairman from 2016-20 after his retirement, and was re-appointed about a month ago. The position was vacant in the interim period in 2021 and early half of 2022. NSAB is an advisory body that works in coordination with the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS), which reports to NSA Ajit Doval.
Pitroda said: “I am surprised, shocked, puzzled and perplexed by the allegation from a high-level Ukraine government agency… I would like to take this opportunity to clarify I am no agent of anyone and/or involved in propaganda for no one except Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein.”
“I sincerely feel sorry for #Ukraine and other intelligence agencies involved in this propaganda. I wish they had taken some quality time to research before putting big labels on me & others and before going global. It is not fair… Like millions in this world, I want the #UkraineRussianWar to end right now. I do not want to see innocent women & children in #Ukraine being killed, frightened, and displaced. #RussiaIsATerroristState,” he tweeted.
There was no response from the Ukrainian embassy in Delhi on the issue.