Perhaps needless to say, I’m currently blocked from Facebook, this time for posting a photo of myself by the ‘I love DPR’ sign in Donetsk. That photo ‘violated Facebook community guidelines’, apparently. So, of course, that’s not in any way blatently political repression then, is it….
Well, the last few days have certainly been ‘interesting’. On September 17th, I filmed reportage interview Vladimir Zhemchugov, a Ukrainian saboteur responsible for a string of attacks against infrastructure in the LPR. The last of these had involved him laying a tripwire, which could have blown up anyone. However, it actually blew up Vladimir and his friend, killing the friend, blowing Vladimir’s hands off.
Was I rather robust with him? Possibly so, but, there’s no other way to put this, he’s a terrorist. The video, with full English subtitles, here –
And that video now at 350,000 hits, but it’s much more than just that. Things have gone a bit crazy. Have a look at the comments yourself, see just how many death threats are there…
The death threats then escalated via levels, with a Ukrainian crowdfunding appeal on Facebook to fund my assassination offering $50,000 –
One pro-Ukrainian was rather more specific, wanting my skull, with teeth intact, and a 3cm hole. Nice guys.
Things then went over to the practically Ukrainian state outfit ‘Mirotvorets‘, which posts profiles of ‘separatists’, encouraging hunts and murders of those they describe as ‘
They put a post up requesting people in Donbass to inform them of my whereaabouts, with a pretty clear intended outcome…
Now, the Ukraine government publicly states that it doesn’t have anything to do with Mirotvorets. They could hardly do otherwise, given that it’s a site which has either claimed responsibility, or at least taken great delight, in the murder of multiple journalists in Ukraine. But that very post, organising a lynchmob for me, was endorsed by senior Ukrainian political figure Anton Gerashenko –
One thing Ukrainians had found, was my apartment in Odessa. I went to live in Odessa in 2013, fell in love with the city, and in October, using all my savings, completed the purchase of a nice flat, a few miles from the centre. I left there in April of 2014, to work in Donbass.
In late 2014, I let the family of six, living next door in a flat half the size, start living in my apartment, for free. And things stayed that way, until suddenly my address was being splashed all over Ukrainian media, complete with documents of property purchase.
What happened next, well, a Ukrainian ‘news’ channel describing me only as a ‘Kremlin propagandist’, blind to the irony of their making a brazenly one-sided, propaganda report on me, visited my apartment, and indeed their tour of my flat, hosted by my resident neighbour Sveta, proceeded to be one of the main stories on Ukrainian news that day.
This, the piece on one of the main Ukrainian news channels, if not main, TCN –
What’s it like to see your own flat on tv, your possessions shown to a nation, dialogue devoted to which kitchen appliances you’d purchased…. like a surreal episode of Through the Keyhole.
Going along with this, were attempts to confiscated my apartment, with Odessa officials showing up, citing a so-clearly-faked-it’s-not-even-funny email, in which I’d supposedly agreed to gift it to ‘Ukrainian patriots’ –
The author of this, incidentally, is Mark Gordienko, a ‘Ukrainian patriot’ involved in the May 2nd massacre of 2014.
Then, of course, the Ukrainian government officially complained about me to the UK government – extract of that here –
I would like to draw the attention of the British side to the situation with continuous provocative and disgraceful behaviour of the UK citizen Mr. Graham William Phillips, who currently resides in the occupied by the Russian Federation territories of Ukraine.
Ambassador Natalia Galibarenko, who recently caused quite a stir with the outfit she wore to meet the queen, and behaviour, continues –
In May 2014 he was detained by security forces of Ukraine on the grounds of providing support to pro-Russian terrorists in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine and, following request from the British side, was released in July 2014 and deported from the territory of Ukraine. He has been forbidden to enter Ukraine for three years on the grounds of a threat to the national security.
By violating the existing border regime with the occupied Crimea he brought upon him another qualification of criminal offence under the Ukrainian legislation. It is regrettable to say that if he is found in the territorial jurisdiction of Ukraine he will immediately bear full consequences for his actions as it was in 2014. We will not hesitate to use all available instruments of international cooperation to make him accountable for his words and deeds.
Mr. Philips’s constant and explicit support of the activities of pro-Russian terrorists in the occupied territories of Ukraine and the demonstrated impunity has caused recently a wide resonance in the Ukrainian society and media and resulted in the petition of Ukrainian and British citizens to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to investigate and prosecute Mr. Philips to the full extent of the UK laws for his reported terrorist ties and unlawful activities in Ukraine.
Ukraine has full respect for a risky work of independent war journalists in Ukraine who broadcast truth on the ground, but we will never tolerate any pseudo journalist who undermines our national security, openly declares racial discrimination ideas and hatred, expresses support for terrorist methods and makes provocations with the only aim to spread violence.
In this connection I would like to ask the British side to take all possible measures including with regard to his travel documents to stop Mr. Phillips’s propaganda work for the Russian occupation authorities in Ukraine and for him to leave our country for good. Given that Mr. Philips is proud to identify himself as a UK journalist, his actions are shameful and disgraceful, and make no good for the UK’s image as a strong and consistent supporter of Ukraine in countering Russian aggression. By his action Mr. Philips damages high standards of British journalism.
So it’s clear – Ukraine are so infuriated by a journalist, in my case a freelance journalist, reporting a side they don’t want the west to hear, and reaching a wider audience, they’ll resort to anything to stop it. Tacit support of a bounty hunt – no condemnation anywhere by Ukraine of lynch-mobs put out to kill or capture me – followed up by official request to the country of that journalist to do everything in their power to stop him.
Well, in Ukraine’s case, and the case of that quite hysterical missive, they were out of luck. The UK has, from the start, adopted a position in support of Ukraine in this conflict. Of course, as a British citizen, and the Ukrainians are correct in that I do indeed proudly identify myself as such, I feel that’s a huge mistake. All this nonsense rhetoric about ‘Russian invasion’, and worse, Britain giving their implied backing to Ukrainian shelling of civilian areas of Donbass, with huge fatalities.
But, the UK is also a normal country. The government clearly takes a ‘pro-Ukraine’ position, with the recent visit by Boris Johnson to Kiev staggeringly predictably failing to make any mention of the ongoing shelling of Donbass, by Ukrainian forces. But, the UK is at least consistent. They questioned me for 4 hours at Heathrow last year, about my work, and have made it clear they won’t help me in any way. But, as Ukraine was told, nor will they do anything against me, as I’ve not broken any laws in the UK. If Ukraine want to punish me, it’s up to them.
Ukraine have then made various noises about this – aggrieved, indignant they can’t get me put on Interpol etc. And then, none of this really working, they then turned around and tried to say what I’d done had actually ‘helped’ Ukraine, by boosting the hatred of the enemy, and journalists (on that side) of Ukrainian troops. Presumably, if so, what a facepalm for them, after they’d done all of the above against me!
My own view on all of it? Well, I still think there are a lot of good people in Ukraine, I’m not against the country of Ukraine, but the current Kiev government is another story, and their actions simply can’t be justified or excused. But, not do I have any vendetta against them, I’m simply absolutely committed to reporting the truth from Donbass. And, of course, this all gives yet more motivation to my work – the reaction of Ukraine, or rather the Kiev government, shows just how much my work is hitting home. And just how much they’ll do anything to stop that. This is a government, desperate for western support, and desperate for the west not to know what the real situation is.
But the truth will get out. I’m back in Donbass, back filming reportage from here, in English, and here’s the crowdfunder to support my work, and more, to be a part of it –