The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) arrested Gonzalo Lira, a US-Chilean national residing in Kharkiv, on suspicions of harbouring pro-Russian sentiments. This marks the second time Lira has been apprehended by the SBU. Lira, an author and filmmaker who relocated to Kharkiv years ago and married a Ukrainian, was initially detained in April 2022 but was released after a week without charges. He was subsequently instructed not to leave the city and prohibited from discussing his arrest.
As reported by Ukrainian media, the SBU’s statement accuses Lira of publicly justifying Russia’s armed aggression, denying or glorifying supposed Russian war crimes, and undermining Ukraine’s top military and political leadership and Defence Forces.
On May 5, the SBU website published a statement in Ukrainian titled “SBU detained a foreign blogger in Kharkiv who denied the crimes of the Russian Federation and insulted Ukrainian defenders.” The statement alleges that Lira was among the first to support Russian invaders and glorify their war crimes. It also accuses him of discrediting Ukraine’s military-political leadership and Defense Forces. The SBU claims that Lira filmed provocative videos featuring Ukrainian defenders and insulted them.
The SBU filmed Lira’s arrest, during which heavily armed agents were involved. All participants’ faces, except Lira’s, were blurred out. A close-up of a smartphone displaying an image of Lira’s children as a screensaver was also left un-blurred. Lira is currently detained on suspicion of producing and disseminating materials justifying the Russian Federation’s armed aggression against Ukraine. The edited video shows heavily armed special forces knocking on Lira’s door and aiming 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 special forces member telling Lira while tapping his arm: “Welcome to Ukraine.”link