Where is Gonzalo Lira? (American Journalist missing in Ukraine)
An American expat and independent journalist, Gonzalo Lira, has gone missing in Ukraine. There are unconfirmed reports that he has been captured by Ukraine’s law enforcement agency, the SBU, as well as unconfirmed reports that he was murdered by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. Gonzalo Lira is a Chilean American born in Burbank California, an author, journalist, filmmaker, and Youtuber, who was based in Kharkiv, Ukraine. He has a background in financial journalism, writing for Zero Hedge, naked capitalism, and Business Insider. He later became a dating coach/life coach with his Coach Red Pill YouTube Channel. Since the Ukraine war started, he has reported on the war, geopolitics, and became an outspoken critic of the Zelensky regime.
Gonzalo Lira’s disappearance was first brought to attention by former Member of UK Parliament and outspoken critic of US Imperialism, George Galloway on April 17, when he failed to appear on his show. There were reports on social media that Gonzalo Lira’s friends and family have been unable to get in touch with him. The Chilean media was the first of mainstream media to report on him missing, including even CNN Chile. Russia Today later reported on him missing, but there has been a total media blackout from mainstream Western media. The Chilean Government has confirmed a lack of contact, as he has dual US/Chilean citizenship, but the US Government has remained totally silent.
Gonzalo Lira, unfortunately, anticipated that he would go missing with one of his last statements being "If ever you don't hear from me for over 12 hours, assume I've been picked up by Ukrainian SBU, and assume that the people most responsible are The Daily Beast." He had a Pinned tweet with a list of names of missing journalists and politicians in Ukraine, stating that “You want to learn the truth about the Zelensky regime? Google these names: Vlodymyr Struk Denis Kireev Mikhail & Aleksander Kononovich Nestor Shufrych Yan Taksyur Dmitri Djangirov Elena Berezhnaya.” He added that “If you haven’t heard from me in 12 hours or more, put my name on this list.”
Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, whom journalist Max Blumenthal describes “as a Nevada Democrat operative embed with Ukrainian ultra-right forces in Kharkiv, reported that “Incredible news from Kharkiv! Reports are that Chilean Russian spy @realGonzaloLira has been captured in #Kharkiv (Kharkov). He is (allegedly) a Russian saboteur posing as a "journalist," to destroy #Ukraine️. Congrats to Ukranian security services.”
The reason that many of Gonzalo Lira’s fans fear he could have been captured and murdered, not by the SBU, but rather by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, was because of a photo that went viral on Twitter from the pro-Azov account of Sergei “Botsman” Korotkikh. The Twitter account was later disabled but posted a photo depicting the Kraken unit of the Azov Battalion, bosting that they had captured Gonzalo Lira. According to some sources, Gonzalo Lira was executed by the Kraken Unit’s Sergei Velichko who uses the call sign 'Chili').
Tweet from Sergei “Botsman” Korotkikh
Former US Marines Corps Intelligence Officer, Scott Ritter, who was a close confidant of Gonzalo Lira, put out a Telegram post informing that Gonzalo Lira had been murdered by Azov’s Kraken Unit. However, Scott Ritter more recently stated that he has “no direct evidence that Gonzalo has been killed” but was rather referring to the reports that he had been killed. Also there have been reports that Sergei Velichko was captured by the Russian military prior to Gonzalo Lira’s disappearance. It is possible that the post boasting of Gonzalo Lira’s capture was perhaps trolling on Azov’s behalf, as there was no evidence. Azov has a record of taking trophy footage of them tormenting their captives, especially anyone prominent. There are also rumors reported on Telegram that Gonzalo’s neighbors in Kharkiv saw him being detained by the SBU.
Gonzalo Lira’s worse fear was that if the SBU captured him, they would have him disappeared without a trace. If it was the SBU that detained him, there is some hope that as an American citizen, the SBU depends upon good relations with the US and that any reports that they may have “disappeared” an American citizens would be a PR disaster. Thus the SBU might have incentives to keep him alive. The Ukrainian government has an obligation to notify the US government of any non-combatant in custody that they have captured. So far there is no record of an arrest. There is also speculation that US intel might be biased against helping him, as he was very critical of the US State Department, and was especially outspoken against Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Victoria Nuland, who he blamed for instigating the conflict.
There is a lot of contradictory information and rumors about Gonzalo Lira’s disappearance on Twitter and Telegram. There has been speculation that he could have died in the Russian shelling of Kharkiv, as he sent a message that he was “hearing all kinds of explosions” right before he went missing. There are also rumors that he could still be alive and in hiding. Many people claim to know where Gonzalo Lira is but it is mostly speculation. Gonzalo would always talk about how the unknown of someone disappearing without a trace, and never to be found, an open ended mystery, was the most disturbing scenario that could happen to someone. If he is still alive, the only chance at saving him is bringing mass attention to his disappearance and putting pressure on governments and human rights watchdog organizations to help.
There was a Hit Piece on Gonzalo Lira from the Daily Beast titled “How a Sleazy American Dating Coach Became a Pro-Putin Shill in Ukraine” with the sub-caption “He peddled sexist bile and toxic relationship advice within a subculture populated by Men’s Rights Activists and incels—while living in Ukraine. Then the invasion started.” The piece was by freelance writer, Mark Hay, whose subject matter ranges from monitoring rightwing politics to sex dolls and bodily functions. The article stated that the Daily Beast had contacted the Ukrainian Government, in that “The Ukrainian government did not respond to a request for comment, but many experts doubt the veracity of this account, and question whether he’s really still in Kharkiv as well.” In response to the hit piece, Gonzalo Lira put out a video in late March alleging that the Daily Beast was trying to get him killed and that “if he ever disappears, The Daily Beast is to blame.”
Gonzalo Lira’s very last tweet was about an American journalist in Ukraine, Patrick Lancaster, who has also been accused of being a Russian Propagandist, and whom Sarah Ashton-Cirillo put out a thinly veiled threat that “Yes. Patrick must go,” in response to another commentor who celebrated Gonzalo Lira’s demise and then stated “Patrick: you’re next.” Sarah Ashton-Cirillo, who claims that Gonzalo Lira was arrested rather than murdered, stated that the justification for Gonzalo Lira’s arrest was that “He at the very least subverted Ukranian war efforts and broke the law with his posts based on new regulations in place since the war began.”
The disappearing of journalists and political opponents is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in wartime. This is nothing new. However, the reaction to Gonzalo Lira’s disappearance signifies a shift in the west, as so far as a disturbing trend of normalizing the suppression, doxing, and dehumanization of those who don’t tow a certain narrative. Inciting violence against independent journalists, especially fellow US citizens, because of their reporting is reprehensible. The disappearance of journalists in wartime is classified as a war crime under international law.
This trend started with the hysteria about clamping down on hate speech and fake news. The implications is that hate speech and misinformation must be suppressed because it could cause harm to people in real life. A common gaslighting tactic is where one party accuses their opponent of doing exactly what they have done, such as miss info and dehumanization of character intended to cause harm. Corporate journalists have even adopted doxing tactics from the culture war. For instance Taylor Lorentz had a nervous breakdown on TV in response to hate comments after she had doxed people in a crusade against the suspended Twitter account, Libs of TikTok.
America’s culture war has been transported into war zones and wartime narratives. The Russia-gate scandal created new domestic political targets for censorship and doxing, which Gonzalo Lira got caught up in. Using the fact that Gonzalo Lira was a civilian blogger, without official press credentials, against him is another form of gaslighting. It is especially ironic that Gonzalo Lira is simultaneously being smeared as being “alt-right” and racist by the left, in order to turn off sympathy from the anti-racist and anti-imperialist left, even though Gonzalo Lira was targeted by violent neo-Nazis. Many American liberals are downplaying the neo-Nazi angle. For instance Eugene Finkel, associate professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University went as so far as to say “I would consider the KKK in the US and skinheads and neo-Nazi groups in Russia a much bigger problem and threat than the Ukrainian far right.”
There were absurd allegations that Gonzalo Lira was a Russian spy, or a paid Russian shill. Most of the controversy surrounding Gonzalo Lira came from allegations against the Zelensky regime including the arming of untrained civilians, for the purpose of using them as human shields for publicity, in order to garner military support from the West. He also alleged that “After the Zelenskyy regime handed out weapons willy-nilly in the last few days, lots of criminals have military-grade weapons, and there have been robberies, rapes and all kinds of havoc due to this.” However, his most controversial allegation was that the Bucha massacre committed against Ukrainian civilians was a false flag. He later took down his YouTube video about the Bucha massacre, as it violated YouTube policy.
There were likely concerns that these allegations harmed the Ukrainian Government’s narrative, as the PR war is their lifeline in this conflict. Even a nuanced take or any criticism of the Zelensky regime will get one called a Putin shill. Certainly there is Russian propaganda out there and the Russian military has committed atrocities in Ukraine. Regardless of how one feels about Russia, Ukraine, or the West, there should be some consensus that the suppression of journalism and independent civilian reporting is detrimental to reporting in wartime.
Gonzalo Lira would always say that he was reluctant to speak out as he wanted to be a good guest in his host country and that he had respect for, and admired the courage of the Ukrainian people but opposed the regime. There is an argument that he put himself in grave danger by speaking out against the government in a nation that he was a guest in, in a conflict. However, the same would not be said about a missing journalist in a nation that is an adversary of the US. There is silence from the mainstream media and Gonzalo’s story needs to be heard. As Scott Ritter proclaimed, "To remain silent in the murder of Gonzalo Lira is to be complicit in his death, and the deaths of all journalists who pursue the truth.” Gonzalo would always say on YouTube that "If someone disappears without explanation, never stop asking."