The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has arrested Gonzalo Lira, a US-Chilean national living in Kharkov, on suspicion of pro-Russian sympathies. This is the second time Lira has been taken into custody by the SBU. Lira, a writer and filmmaker who moved to Kharkov several years ago and is married to a Ukrainian, was previously detained in April 2022 but was released after a week, with no charges pressed.

He was then ordered not to leave the city and barred from talking about his arrest.

The SBU's statement, as quoted by Ukrainian media, accuses Lira of publicly justifying Russia's armed aggression, denying or glorifying alleged Russian war crimes, and discrediting Ukraine's top military and political leadership, as well as the country's Defence Forces.

The statement published only in Ukrainian on the SBU site on 5 May under the  title: "SBU detained a foreign blogger in Kharkiv who denied the crimes of the Russian Federation and insulted Ukrainian defenders.” The statement goes on to say that: ”After the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the blogger was among the first to support the Russian invaders and glorify their war crimes. He also engaged in discrediting the top military-political leadership and Defence Forces of our state. It was documented that last spring, he personally filmed provocative videos in which he tried to capture the faces of Ukrainian defenders and insulted them.

He published his "streams" on two of his own channels on YouTube and Telegram, with a total audience of nearly 300,000 subscribers. In addition, in his comments, he denied the facts of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities and the mass murder of civilians by Russian forces. Currently, the Security Service investigators have notified him of suspicion under parts 2 and 3 of Article 436-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (manufacturing and distributing materials containing justification of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, committed repeatedly).”

In March 2022, Ukraine's parliament passed 14 laws to counter Russian aggression, including two that amend legislation on information activity. These laws ban mass media from justifying or legitimising the denial of Russia's armed aggression in Ukraine and the occupation of its territories. They also prohibit the glorification of people involved in the aggression or administration of occupied areas. 

The Criminal Code of Ukraine now includes Article 435-1, which imposes liability for threatening or insulting military personnel and their families, and Article 436-2, which addresses the justification or denial of Russian military aggression, the occupation of Ukrainian territories, and the glorification of those involved in the aggression or occupation. Penalties for these crimes range from arrest up to 6 months to imprisonment for up to 8 years, depending on the case's circumstances. 

Lira's arrest was filmed by the SBU, with heavily armed agents participating. The faces of everyone involved, except for Lira, were blurred out. A close-up of a smartphone revealing an image of Lira’s children as screensaver was also left un-blurred. Lira is currently being held on suspicion of producing and distributing materials that justify the Russian Federation's armed aggression against Ukraine. The edited video shows heavily armed special forces knocking on Lira’s door and pointing a machine gun at the 55 year old Lira who opens the door in his pyjamas. The metal soundtrack from Override Spedup fades down enough to hear the words of a member of special forces telling Lira while tapping his arm: ”Welcome to Ukraine.”

There is no doubt that Lira has been critical of the Zelensky regime and the 8-year-long shelling of Donbas residents by Kyiv. Lira sees the war in Ukraine as a proxy war by the United States, which could have, and should have been negotiated. His opinions contradict the dominant narrative in Ukrainian government-controlled and established media of the West. However, he has not engaged in any activities other than exercising his right to free speech as a citizen and respected journalist. It doesn't matter if we agree or disagree with what Lira thinks and says. Freedom of speech must not be restricted, especially during times of conflict. These are the values we claim to be fighting for.

Ukraine's recent enactment of laws criminalising dissent, banning opposition political parties, nationalising the media, and even persecuting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for being in canonical communion with Moscow has alarmed free speech advocates. These measures have been criticised for undermining democratic values and creating a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

The arrest of Gonzalo Lira serves as a stark reminder of the delicate balance between national security and individual liberties, particularly in times of conflict. It also raises questions about the extent of the Zelensky regime's commitment to democratic principles and the responsibility of its Western supporters to address these concerns. As the situation in Ukraine continues to evolve, it is crucial for the international community to remain vigilant in advocating for the protection of freedom of speech and other fundamental rights while holding governments accountable for their actions. 

Since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, Western media and governments have systematically ignored or even suppressed news and information on any undemocratic, criminal, or corrupt activities or even war crimes committed by the Ukrainian side of the conflict, while highlighting the same from the Russian side.

Gonzalo Lira is a Chilean-American writer, filmmaker, and financial analyst. Born on November 29, 1972, in Santiago, Chile, he spent much of his life in the United States. He is known for his work as a novelist, screenwriter, and director, as well as his contributions to the financial sector, particularly in economics and investment strategy.

Lira has written several novels, such as "Counterparts," "Acrobat" and "Gegenspieler" He maintains a presence on YouTube, where he shares his insights on politics, and social issues. He is also a regular guest on the highly acclaimed ”Mother of all Talk Shows (MOAT)” by George Galloway.

Lira has been recognised for his controversial and outspoken style, which has both attracted and repelled various audiences. Despite the polarising nature of his opinions, he has developed a loyal following of people who appreciate his candour and expertise. Lira is active on Twitter, Youtube and Telegram and was followed by over 300 000 people.


His last tweet on April 22 said: 

For the truth about the Zelensky regime, Google these names:

Vlodymyr Struk

Denis Kireev

Mikhail & Aleksander Kononovich

Nestor Shufrych

Yan Taksyur

Dmitri Djangirov

Elena Berezhnaya


Once again: If you haven’t heard from me in 12 hours or more, put my name on this list.





WorldCon 75, Scott Lynch; photo by Jana Blomqvist


WorldCon 75, Robin Hobb; photo by Jana Blomqvist


Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016