Updates from the DLPR (#9) Reconstruction versus Hearsay in the DPR

Recently, as you may know, I was back in Donetsk for two weeks. I revisited the scene of an apartment in the Kuibishevsky region of the city, destroyed by Ukrainian shelling in 2014. I started covering the fate of this flat back in July of 2015. In May of 2016, reconstruction on it began, and here is the journey –

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So, that’s real information from Donbass – time spent there, photos, evidence. And, more, something positive.

Let’s now have a look at the western media version. This recent article, as circulated in the Moscow Times, written by Tanya Lokshina, a Human Rights Watch employee, vocal critic of Putin, who also works as a journalist – Raw Fear in Separatist-Controlled Donetsk

What does Lokshina’s article comprise of? A lot of things that people have supposedly told her, or that she’s overheard on her trip to Donetsk. All negative, of course. And, perhaps also of course, there’s no evidence of any of it. No videos, no audio even. Not even a photo from her, of her time there, just a stock photo. It’s literally thus ‘I (a clearly anti-DPR journalist, who has been a constant critic of ‘separatism’) went to Donetsk and heard that everything there is terrible, I’ve got absolutely no evidence of any of that, so please just take my word for it.’

So, you’ll never see photos like the above in standard western press, not just because they don’t want to tell you anything positive about life in the DLPR, because they’re not actually interested in journalism, just hearsay passed off, and passed on.

An Open Letter to Donald Trump, on MH17

Dear Mr. Trump,

Your election has raised hopes that easing of tensions, between U.S. and Russia, and peacemaking in Europe in general is achievable. Settlement of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine and lifting the sanctions against Russia which is vital for the world community has a realistic chance now. With this in mind, there is also hope for a higher quality investigation into the disputed downing of MH17, as you expressed your doubts in an October 2015 interview, regarding the proof of Russian guilt:

“They say it wasn’t them. It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.“ (MSNBC)

mh17Indeed, we agree with you, we will never be sure, with the kind of investigation we have seen over the past two years. The official investigation of the “Dutch Safety Board“ (DSB) and the “Joint Investigation Team“(JIT) was neither independent nor convincing. This kind of investigation forms a huge burden particularly to the families who lost their loved ones in the downing of MH17. They need to know the truth.
WE ARE ASKING YOU, TO PLEASE PUSH FOR A NEW INVESTIGATION. This could happen within an international framework like the U.N. comprising the following aspects:

(1) A team of international, independent scientists who would be able to exclude veto power for any government. This exclusion of veto is especially important, due to the overwhelming role of one of the involved parties, Ukraine. The main source of information to the DSB and JIT used for their official investigations was SBU, the Ukrainian secret service.
(2) Keeping all scenarios on the table.
(3) Declassifying and releasing “available satellite images” claimed by Secretary of State, John Kerry, on 20th of July 2014; or (if not) disclaiming their existence.
(4) Conducting forensic examination of impact holes (for metal residues) in the MH17 wreckage and reproducing the same pattern of damage by shelling tests (as usually done in crime cases). Completing key information fields, such as body forensics, voice recorder, radar data etc.
(5) Prior construction of, a clear path to an international, objective trial in the U.N. framework with judges from countries which are not connected with the crash.

FURTHERMORE, WE ARE ASKING YOU TO PLEASE INITIATE PEACE TALKS WITH ALL PARTIES CONCERNED (including but not limited to Russia, Ukraine, and the EU) aiming at settling the dispute and establishing a reconstruction plan for Eastern Ukraine including the compensation of the MH17 families.

Thank you so much in advance, for your attention to this matter.
– Independent journalists & experts on MH17 –

* Media spokesman – Mr. Billy Six
e-mail Billy@six-newhagen.de
facebook BILLY SIX
tel. 0049 152 269 27 443

– MARK BARTALMAI, journalist & Ukraine documentaries producer, GERMANY
– DR. THIERRY BAUDET, journalist, publicist & initiator of Dutch referendum on EU/Ukraine association agreement, NETHERLANDS
– BERND BIEDERMANN, missile defense colonel ret., military attaché ret. & book author, GERMANY
– CHRISTOPHER BLACK, international criminal lawyer, CANADA
– NORBERT FLEISCHER, investigative journalist, GERMANY
– PROF. DR. ELMAR GIEMULLA, lawyer of German MH17 victims, GERMANY
– DR. HERMANN HAGENA, airforce general ret. & author of MH17 military study, GERMANY
– PROF. DSC. OTTO-FRIEDRICH HAGENA, physicist, GERMANY
– PETER HAISENKO, journalist, publisher & former “Lufthansa” pilot, GERMANY
– JOHN HELMER, longest-serving foreign correspondent in Russia, UNITED STATES
– FRANK HÖFER, journalist & film producer, GERMANY
– DIETER KLEEMANN, airforce colonel / trainer ret. & book author, GERMANY
– PATRICK LANCASTER, investigative journalist with 100s of hours on MH17 site from day one & U.S. Navy veteran, UNITED STATES
– DR. JAMES O´NEILL, barrister on human rights & geopolitical analyst, AUSTRALIA
– JOOST NIEMÖLLER, journalist & MH17 book author, NETHERLANDS
– GRAHAM PHILLIPS, investigative journalist, UNITED KINGDOM
– PROF. DR. KEES VAN DER PIJL, political scientist, peace activist & author, NETHERLANDS
– HECTOR REBAN, political analyst & blogger on MH17, NETHERLANDS
– NORBERT K. REISBERG, Lt.-Col. ret., airforce pilot ret. & military scientist, GERMANY
DAN SHEPPARD, private MH17 researcher, AUSTRALIA
– JOACHIM SIEGERIST, journalist, publisher & author, GERMANY
– BILLY SIX, investigative journalist & book author, GERMANY
– MAX VAN DER WERFF, blogger & private MH17 investigator, NETHERLANDS
– PROF. KAREL VAN WOLFEREN, journalist, political analyst & book author, NETHERLANDS
– MOHD AZAHAR ZANUDIN, technician, supplier for army/police & blogger on MH17, MALAYSIA

Updates from the DLPR (#8) Leaving and Returning to the LPR, and the difference…

I left the Lugansk People’s Republic a couple of weeks ago, to go to report from the DPR for a period. The LPR I left was at that time, almost entirely quiet, in terms of war. Events were of a more positive nature, this flashmob in Pervomaisk –

And here, Lugansk schoolchildren sing ‘Imagine’ to me!

Returning to Lugansk – with an evacuation taking place from a frontline village, and the reason clear in this video report, huge thanks to Sergey Yermolayev for English subtitles here –

Back in Lugansk, it was immediately thrust into reporting of a different kind, as Ukrainian forces had fired 7 times into villages by the perimeter. I go there to report on it, and ask why the OSCE are there, but don’t seem to be doing anything –

Here’s a look at the frontline, and the distance between sides –

And here, with full English subs, again thanks to Sergey Yermolayev, an exclusive English-language interview from the LPR frontlines –

We go on here, in the LPR for now, with more reportage to come, but let’s hope for a return to the positive, rather than the latest.

Updates from the DLPR (#7) Donetsk Destruction in 360 Degrees (Videos)

Two recent videos, as I try out the still new 360 degree video format (you can control the camera yourself, via the panel in top left), to take you on a tour of the destruction wrought on Donetsk by Ukrainian shelling of the city – first a trip along the Stratonatov street, near the airport –

Here, a tour around a completely wrecked Donetsk home –

The OSCE in Donetsk – What are they there for?

Graham Phillips

The OSCE, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, have been a sizeable presence in Donetsk for over 2 years now, with their fleet white Toyota Landcruiser vehicles in the city, and personnel numbering in total near 600 in Donbass, many of whom are based in Donetsk, being as it is the largest urban centre in Donbass, plus still at the centre of ongoing hostilities (the Lugansk area now, largely calm).

Ostensibly, they are here to report on ceasefire violations, shelling, and other incidents related to a situation classified as war, in Donetsk, since May 26th, 2014. They provide spot reports, on their website, and maintain a Twitter feed.

Yet, for an organisation over 40-years-old – it has its origins in the 1975 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland – there’s an alarming absence of any coherent policy. Take speaking to the media, you can, on occasion find a friendly OSCE monitor who will be more than happy to. But last week, when I tried speaking to them, one of them even slapped my camera –

More importantly, this shelling was abundantly clearly from Ukrainian positions. Yet, in their spot report, the OSCE didn’t identify the Grads as having come from Ukrainian positions, writing fired from a direction ranging from south-west to west – the only positions there are Ukrainian positions.

So, what happened? The report came out, went largely unnoticed. Yet, if the OSCE had come out and said that shelling from Ukraine-controlled territory had hit, and wrecked, homes in Donbass? That would have made a story, no matter how begrudgingly, the western media would have had to cover it.

So, why didn’t the OSCE say who controlled the territory from which the shelling came? Again, there’s no coherent policy, because when the OSCE want to say who controls the territory from which shelling came, they can absolutely do that – as in January 2015, Mariupol – OSCE mission report: Mariupol shelled from rebel-controlled territory | KyivPost

So, what’s going on? When shelling comes from Ukraine-controlled territory, they osce-hugsimply give directions, yet when they can say it came from ‘rebel’ territory they shout that from the rooftops? Where’s the policy?

After all, this is an organisation which makes a big show of caring about casualties of the conflict in Donbass. The Principal Deputy Chief Monitor, and de facto ‘face’ of OSCE operations in Donbass, Alexander Hug (pictured), recently stating – In whose interests is it when children are endangered? Last Fri 4 y-old boy spent night in freezing basement as Debaltseve was shelled.

Yet, if the OSCE had actually stated who was doing the shelling, surely this situation could have been resolved much earlier? The entire conflict in Donbass is predicated on the concept perpetuated in the west that Ukraine are somehow the ‘good guys’, defending their land against ‘Russian aggressors’. But, if a wider audience knew Ukrainian forces were targeting civilian areas with shelling, on a daily basis, it’s untenable western governments would have been able to support Ukraine as they have, and pressure on the Kiev government could have resulted in the conclusion of this protracted, bloody conflict a long time ago.

However, the OSCE not reporting who is responsible for the shelling is far from the only problem with their ‘mission’ in Donbass. Often, they simply don’t turn up to shelling sites. This recent scene, the village of Alexandrovka, the edge of Donetsk, around 20km from the centre of Donetsk, and the OSCE simply didn’t go there –

As the woman in the video explains, the OSCE have, arbitrarily, decided to draw a line which they won’t go beyond. The OSCE didn’t visit this scene at all, and on the day, I took a couple of photos of their fleet, apparently all, or almost all, back at basecamp in the centre of Donetsk – osce-donetsk

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There are a lot of questions to put the OSCE – why no coherent policy on speaking to the media? Why do they blame one side for shelling, but cover up for the other? Why, when they have all the resources, do they choose not visit some shelling sites?

Perhaps, an over-riding question, in Donetsk, just what are the OSCE there for?

Updates from the DLPR (#6) An Escalation, then a Calming

Graham Phillips

I arrived back in Donetsk just over a week ago, and was immediately pitted back into the unwelcome routine of daily attending scenes of Ukrainian shelling. On the 18th, it was the edge of Donetsk, and a home hit by 122mm Ukrainian shelling, from their positions at the nearby village of Pesky, northwest of Donetsk –

(A huge thanks to Sergey Yermolayev and Anastasia

The next day, it was a trip to the western edge of Donetsk, and the village of Staromikhailova, where Ukrainian forces had fired 152mm artillery on homes, from their positions at nearby Marinka –

Here was a conversation with residents there –

The 20th began with an early morning trip to Zaitsevo, on the outskirts of Gorlovka, where a man herding his cows had been blown up by a Ukrainian-planted landmine –

Next, it was a journey of around 118km to the village of Stilo, where Ukrainian forces at the nearby village of Nikolaevka had launched a Grad attack hitting a home –

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A nearby farm had also been hit. The OSCE were on the scene, and with the direction of shelling absolutely clear, I asked if they would be stating that it was Ukrainian forces who had shelled. This was their answer –

And, in their report, they also didn’t identify the Grads as having come from Ukrainian positions, writing fired from a direction ranging from south-west to west – the only positions there are Ukrainian positions.

Which leads to the rather uneasy question, if the OSCE are not doing their designated job here, and they are clearly not, then what are they doing in Donbass?

On a more positive note, the 20th November was the last, to date, shelling I’ve had to report on as, over the past few days, no hits of note have been reported, and shelling, a few days ago highly audible in Donetsk, has substantially subsided.

That’s all for this update, more soon. For this time, it was an escalation, then a calming.

Your Opportunity to Help Donbass

I’d like to draw your attention to 2 appeals. Firstly, I know many of you have seen my film about a Donass opolchen, a hero, killed in action – Aramis. 

Here is the appeal, which would mean the world to his family, and more, to raise funds for a headstone for Aramis –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-grave-fit-for-a-hero/x/12236308#/

And here’s your opportunity to become a friend to a children’s home in Donbass, and make a meaningful difference to the lives of over 200 children there –

You can contact the school directly here –

internat.lutugino@yandex.ru
shkola2@luga.net.ua

Huge thanks for helping!

Graham