Elon Musk asks Biden to save “American journalist” Gonzalo Lira, who was detained by the SBU. In fact, he is a pro-Russian propagandist, sexist, conspiracy theorist and favorite of Maria Zakharova

Oleksandr Miasyshchev
Yuliana Skibitska
Elon Musk asks Biden to save “American journalist” Gonzalo Lira, who was detained by the SBU. In fact, he is a pro-Russian propagandist, sexist, conspiracy theorist and favorite of Maria Zakharova

Kateryna Bandus / «Бабель»

On May 1, 2023, the SBU arrested pro-Russian blogger Gonzalo Lira. He is accused of justifying Russian aggression. Lira is a citizen of the USA and Chile, who lived in Kharkiv for many years, and since the beginning of the full-scale invasion has been spreading Russian fakes on social networks. Now Lira is in the Kharkiv pretrial detention center. On December 10, the American ultraconservative and supporter of conspiracy theories, Tucker Carlson, unexpectedly mentioned Lira on the air of his program. He stated that since July 2023, the Ukrainian authorities have been torturing Lira, who "showed the truth about the war," for criticizing President Zelensky. The posts of Carlson and Lira himself were shared by the billionaire and owner of X (Twitter) Elon Musk. He called the blogger a journalist and asked Joe Biden what was going on with this case. While the American president did not report, Babel collected a short dossier of the victim of the "Kyiv regime". It turned out that Lira, a pro-Russian propagandist, is also a conspiracy theorist, a seduction coach, a sexist and a respected person (according to the Russian Foreign Ministry).

What did Lira start with?

Gonzalo Lira is 55 years old, he is of Chilean origin and was born in California. His father, with whom Lira has not spoken for 24 years, says not too nice things about his son: "He likes to put people in their place, and a little sadistically play with them."

In 1995, Lira graduated from Dartmouth College in the United States, majoring in history and philosophy. In 1997, he turned to art: published three books about detectives, created an action video game and a comedy So Kinky. In 2002, the rights to his novel-thriller "Acrobat" were even bought by the big film company Miramax to make a movie after it. But we did not find any information about the film, so, most likely, they abandoned the idea. In 2002, Lira moved to Chile, obtained its citizenship, and began making unsuccessful Spanish-language films.

Gonzalo Lira in 2007.

In 2010, he unexpectedly became a popular economic columnist in several thematic blogs and wrote ten economic articles for Business Insider. Eight of them were later removed from the site — they are available only in the cache. Moreover, in one of the two articles that remained on the site, the publication exposed Lira to manipulation and deleted the text by link.

In the same year 2010, Lira founded the company Strategic Planning Group, which did not have a physical office, only a website. The company offered paid economic forecasts about future crises in the markets and how to make money from them. The site has been inactive since 2016 — and since then it has been offering porn in Japanese rather than economic analytics.

The career of a pickup coach

In 2017, Lira again changed the field of activity. He started a menʼs blog and rebranded as a seduction coach under the moniker Coach Red Pill. Lira has become a prominent speaker in the manosphere, the Internet community of pickuperz, anti-feminists, and "menʼs rights" advocates. Even the term Red Pilled arose — those who "realized the truth about sex and relationships."

Lira positioned himself as an experienced man with a lot of sexual experience, which he was ready to share with young people. He regularly filmed video lectures and conducted online seminars where he gave dating and relationship advice. Lira has monetized his popularity—as recently as two years ago, he had 3,200 Patreon followers (which is a good number), contributing at least $16,000 a month.

Liraʼs lectures are a mixture of stereotypes and hatred towards women, particularly regarding their age and appearance. He claimed that young women have no principles, and men, on the contrary, "evolved to be faithful." Lira coined the concept of the "unregulated sex market," which explains how relationships between the sexes are arranged. According to him, a man can "have fun" with a woman who likes him, but is also free to "choose another" if she is better. A woman has no such right. And he spoke hatefully about women older than 35 or those who are overweight.

"This is biology. Women age badly. Men are like wine," explained the seduction coach.

Gonzalo Lira in 2022.

How Lira became an "expert on Ukraine"

He came to Kharkiv back in 2012 — because he was disappointed in women from Western countries. Lira said that in Kharkiv he received a lot of attention from women. Then he realized that in poor countries the "unregulated sex market" is better and it is easier to find a good wife there.

"Women in Ukraine want to find a husband to start a family. Therefore, it is reasonable to learn Russian and come to Ukraine or Belarus. Itʼs terribly cheap here," said Lira. He got married in Kharkiv and stayed there to live.

In November 2021, Lira deleted almost all of his relationship advice videos and began appearing more and more often under his real name rather than a pseudonym. At that time, the Western media wrote a lot about the preparation of the Russian invasion. Lira denied these reports on Twitter and Telegram. Later, he changed his mind and claimed that Russia would capture the left bank of Ukraine in two weeks, and that "Donetsk and Luhansk rebels" would help it in this. The West was to blame for everything, of course, because it allegedly placed NATO troops too close to Russia and provoked it for years.

Post in Liraʼs Telegram channel on November 21, 2021. In it, he claims that there is no build-up of Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders. At the same time, Lira believes that under this pretext the USA will place NATO bases in Ukraine and then the Russians will preemptively invade Ukraine.

The Daily Beast wrote that there is nothing surprising in Liraʼs transition from a blogger in the "menʼs community" to a far-right and pro-Russian speaker. In his videos, he regularly interspersed anti-Western and anti-globalist rhetoric, as well as conspiracy theories about biological weapons or vaccination. "Many figures in the manosphere perceive Russia as a bastion of traditional values, a country that tells the truth to Western states. And they believe Russian narratives, not Western ones,” said experts The Daily Beast spoke with.

What did Lyra do after the invasion

He said that on February 23 he came to Kyiv "on business". The next day, he began to regularly publish videos about the war from the five-star Premier Palace hotel in Kyiv. In them, Lira repeated almost all the fakes of Russian propaganda. In the first days of the war, he published maps of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation — on them, Russia controlled almost half of Ukraine. He assured that the Russians do not hit civilians and this is "obvious".

In March 2022, Lira returned to Kharkiv, from where he continued to write blogs. All of them were of the same type — the blogger criticized the "Zelensky regime", claimed that Ukraine is ruled by neo-Nazis and neo-fascists, who shelled Donbas and killed 16,000 people over the past nine years. Zelenskyi accused Lira of using drugs, called him a "coke head" and "evil". He constantly accused the Ukrainian army of war crimes. In his fakes, he referred to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the Russian mass media.

"The Armed Forces used civilians as human shields in many places, especially in Mariupol. The armed forces fired at the city residents who tried to escape from their clutches. The ZSU tortured and killed prisoners of war, journalists and Ukrainian politicians. There is no evidence that the Russian army did any of this," Lira wrote.

His video was repeatedly used by the Russian mass media, and he gave interviews to them. In an interview with "Izvestia"; in April 2022, he said that "Ukrainian militants are disguised as civilians" and turned Kharkiv into a ghost town.

For what and when he was imprisoned

The SBU detained Lira in Kharkiv on May 1, 2023. The investigation claims that the blogger not only discredited Ukraine and supported the war, but also "made provocative videos in which he tried to capture the faces of Ukrainian defenders." Lira was arrested and accused of justifying Russiaʼs armed aggression. For this he faces up to five years in prison.

Lira in July 2023, when he was detained by the SBU.

Since then, Lira rarely appears on the air. In his last video from August 1, he said that he spent more than two months behind bars, and in July he was released on bail — he was released under house arrest. In order not to go to prison, at the end of July, Lira decided to flee Kharkiv and go abroad. He tried to get to Hungary on a motorcycle and ask for political asylum there. He was detained at the border in Zakarpattia Oblast and forcibly transported to Kharkiv.

Lira appealed to freedom of speech, which allegedly gave him the right to record such videos. He also complained that law enforcement officers took $70,000 from him, and other prisoners beat him in the pretrial detention center on their instructions. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova defended Lira. She stated that Lira covered the atrocities of the Nazis without a bill and for this they repressed him.

Now Gonzalo Lira is in custody in the Kharkiv detention center, the SBU says. The pre-trial investigation in his case has already been completed. The court will consider the case on December 12 and 21.

Unlike Lira, we do not need asylum in Hungary, and the support of Elon Musk is ready — but we need your donations. Support Babel: 🔸 in hryvnia , 🔸 in cryptocurrency , 🔸 Patreon , 🔸 PayPal: [email protected].