Andrew Korybko’s $1,000 Ukrainian Refugee Charity Challenge

The charity challenge that I’m sharing is this: if you sincerely believe any of the conspiracy theories alleging that my footage from two Moscow grocery stores yesterday isn’t real and was somehow manipulated by CGI, actors, fake products on the shelves, etc., then I’m willing to make a $1,000 bet with you about it where the loser ends up donating to an agreed-upon charity that helps Ukrainian refugees after a neutral media outlet independently confirms the truth.

For those of you who don’t already know, I’m Andrew Korybko, a Moscow-based American political analyst who’s lived in Russia for the past 8,5 years. I shared footage on Monday from two of my local grocery stores here and here proving that there isn’t a shortage of food and goods like some have claimed due to the unprecedented US-led Western sanctions that were imposed in response to Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. Nevertheless, some of those who’ve been brainwashed by fake news into thinking that there is responded very angrily and even accused me of being part of a literal conspiracy.

Some of those false claims include speculation that I’m either not a real person, that the footage was manipulated by computer-generated images (CGI), and that the locations that I visited were a “Potemkin village”. The last one refers to a very specific conspiracy theory alleging that the whole thing was staged: that I’m not who I say I am, the location is some pop-up cardboard cutout or whatever, and those who were captured in my footage are all actors. After interacting with a particular troll who introduced this conspiracy theory and continued to cling to it for hours, I came up with the novel idea to propose a $1,000 Ukrainian refugee charity challenge.

No decent person should have anything but the deepest sympathy for those innocent civilians whose lives have been ruined by this conflict. It doesn’t matter whether you believe that the sequence of events was provoked by the US like I do and explained in the four hyperlinked analyses shared in the first paragraph connected to Russia’s ongoing operation or if you have a different interpretation of everything. We should all agree that refugees, including those whose political views might not align with our own, aren’t to blame for what’s happening in Ukraine. Anyone who has the means to help them has a moral obligation to do so.

The charity challenge that I’m sharing is this: if you sincerely believe any of the conspiracy theories alleging that my footage isn’t real and was somehow manipulated by CGI, actors, fake products on the shelves, etc., then I’m willing to make a $1,000 bet with you about it. We’ll agree on a Ukrainian refugee charity to donate the proceeds to, ideally in Poland since they seem to have quite a lot of reputable ones right now that are directly helping tens of thousands of people. It would theoretically be best for each side to propose their own charity for the other to donate to if they lose but it’s extremely difficult to send money to Russia right now so it’s unrealistic for me to choose one here or in Donbass.

Polish charities, meanwhile, can easily be donated to without any problems, which is why I propose that we agree on one in that country. The second step is to get a media outlet involved to visit the location(s) that I filmed at where the conspiracy theorist claims that the alleged scam took place. I specifically described where these locations are in my two videos: the first was filmed at the Perekrestok right next to Technopark metro station while the second was at the Magnolia in Nagatinsky Zaton close to Kolomenskaya station. These locations veritably exist and are confirmed through a simple online search. The media outlet that we agree upon will then visit them to prove that everything is real there.

The reason why a media outlet is so important is because neither side will trust a random person to mediate between us over independently determining that I myself am indeed a real person unlike what some have claimed, that no CGI was incorporated into my footage, and that neither location is a “Potemkin village” of pop-up structures, fake products, and nothing but actors. If you truly believe in any of those conspiracy theories and want to “expose” them, then put your money where your mouth is, get a media outlet involved to independently investigate the truth, and then one of us will end up donating $1,000 to a Polish-based Ukrainian refugee charity that we agree upon ahead of time.

I can tell you ahead of time though with supreme confidence that you’ll end up “losing” the bet, but it won’t really be a “loss” if you can truly afford the $1,000 that you’d be putting up (along with your public reputation considering the involvement of a media outlet that’ll publicize our bet), since all decent people should agree that it would be a win for those innocent Ukrainian refugees who need all the help that they can get. Nobody who claims to support Kiev can morally back down from this bet if they truly think that they’re about to “expose” me for the conspiracy that they accuse me of pulling. There’s only one problem with my challenge, and it’s that a Western media outlet might not participate.

Upon thinking about it yesterday as I was going back and forth with a conspiracy theorist who by his own admission “travels the world” and is therefore presumably wealthy enough to put $1,000 up to support the same Ukrainian cause whose flag he proudly placed on his profile picture, I realized that it’s actually anathema to Western Mainstream Media (MSM) interests to publicize my factual footage (the veracity of which will indisputably be confirmed since there wasn’t any conspiracy involved in my filming) as well as raise public awareness of my activities here in Russia. After all, many of my analyses that I publish on a daily basis are very critical of the US-led West and supportive of Russia.

That also isn’t because of any conspiracy but is simply due to my independent conclusion about whatever it may be that I’m writing about and the passion that I have to express my constitutionally enshrined freedom of speech as an American by informing my fellows about my views through social media and other means. Nevertheless, my factual footage of the contemporaneous situation in those two Moscow stores as well as my personal interpretation of various events challenge the MSM narrative. Even though the outlet that could get involved would essentially be facilitating the transfer of $1,000 from every conspiracy theorist to the charity that we agree upon, they might still be opposed.

That’s because it might be considered “counterproductive” from a strategic communications perspective to debunk the fake news narrative that’s virally circulating through social media alleging that all Russians are nowadays at risk of starvation and can’t even procure basic goods. Furthermore, it’s absolutely contrary to their interests to make potentially countless more people aware of my work since they might subsequently follow it, learn more about interpretations of events that challenge the MSM’s, and perhaps start questioning everything that they were hitherto led to believe. For that reason, these same outlets might not want to help those same Ukrainian refugees that they claim to support.

In any case, I still wanted to publicly make my challenge to all those conspiracy theorists out there who are as convinced of their beliefs as the troll who I spent a few hours interacting with yesterday and to whom I originally proposed this bet in response to his claim that my footage was nothing but a “Potemkin village”. If you really believe that I staged the whole thing, then put your money where your mouth is, get a media outlet involved to investigate everything, and let’s agree on a Polish charity that helps Ukrainian refugees. All interested media outlets can send me a private message on Facebook to discuss this or comment below my post on Twitter asking me to follow them back so we can chat.

What follows next is designed to deliberately provoke those conspiratorial trolls with the intent of getting them to accept my challenge in order to ultimately help the Ukrainian refugees who all decent people should support. You have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to “expose” me and ruin my entire career that I’ve spent eight years building. If you truly think that I staged a massive conspiracy, including by setting up a “Potemkin village”, then you can get a media outlet to investigate everything, “expose” me, ruin my career, and put an end to my work for the rest of my life. My entire reputation, both professional and personal, is being put to the test. I’m confident enough to bet it all, but are you?

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