Thank you very much.
Thank you so much for being here. It's a true honour to be in your presence. I can only begin to imagine the unspeakable tragedy, the unspeakable violence, and the brutality that you have witnessed.
You have mentioned—and I've noticed you said it a few times—that the White Helmets are fully independent. I go for that. There's no question about that. I've been following the work you've been doing over the years very closely. One of the really important points about the White Helmets is that it's made up of so many folks from a wide variety of backgrounds. We're not just talking about doctors, nurses, and paramedics here. We're talking about former teachers, engineers, tailors, firefighters, and so on. It's a real volunteer effort and a genuine organic movement from the ground up—from the grassroots up, if you like.
While many in the world recognize that, there are those who continue to see you as not independent, but as al Qaeda-linked terrorists. A quick Google search will turn that up. Much of that has to do with Russian propaganda.
I'm just going to quote something here. It comes from a book by a British academic, David Patrikarakos, called War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century. He says that in the old days, the Soviets would try to portray the Soviet Union as a model society, but that now it's about confusing every issue with so many narratives that people can't recognize the truth when they see it.
How has Russia tried to carry this out? You obviously know this, but I want it on the record. We're talking about Twitter bots putting out propaganda and untruths about you. The Russian state especially promotes bloggers—many of whom have links to the so-called “9/11 Truth” movement, which continues to say that 9/11 was an inside job carried out by Bush Jr., Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and the like—and they're promoted on outlets such as Russia Today.
For the purposes of the record, and for Canadians who are interested in this, can you go into this and how this propaganda effort has really created a perception of the organization that is completely false?