Updates from the DLPR (#5) International Visitors in the LPR

Fair to say that tourism hasn’t exactly been a huge industry in recent times in Donbass. And, fair to add it’s not going to be while there’s an ongoing, no matter how sporadic, war situation.

There’s war itself, and also the barriers of getting through – entry from the Ukraine side isn’t possible without special clearance from Kiev, and that doesn’t exactly go down well in the DPR, and LPR, understandably.

So, visitors have to come through Russia, requiring the obtaining of a Russian visa, involving the filling out of a rather lengthy form, trip to a visa office, and some expense. Not only this, a double-entry visa is required, allowing your DLPR visitor to exit Russia, and re-enter.

So, it’s not a city break to Rome. Yet, there are those who are surmounting the hurdles, and coming themselves to the LPR, and DPR. Here, in English, a recent group of Italian visitors –

And even more recently, a Welshman here in Lugansk –

So, too early to say the the DPR and LPR are emerging as tourist destinations, but people are coming here, leaving in the one piece they came in, and going home knowing for themselves how things are here, rather than what what the western media would have you think.

Likely watch this space then, for more international visitors to the LPR and DPR!

Updates from the DLPR (#4) Shelling in the DPR and LPR

Reports from the DPR about ceasefire violations have been in the thousands, by the week, in October. However, numbers are numbers, and it’s sadly the case that it takes victims for shelling to really make news, get attention. You will doubtless be aware that on October 27th, the city of Makeevka (by Donetsk) was hit by Ukrainian shelling, with two killed as a result, some photos of that here –

Edward Basurin, the DPR Defence spokesman, named Thursday 27th as ‘Black Thursday’, with a total of three killed, across the DPR, and 10 wounded. 

Patrick Lancaster, in Donetsk, reports heavy shelling audible this night. Let’s wait until morning, and hope for no more victims.

There is a conception that over in the LPR, things are calm and peaceful. That’s a misconception, as I filmed from the scene where it seems Ukrainian forces had intentionally hit a civilian car with an anti-tank device, with the 60-year-old male driver now in a critical condition, after having undergone an amputation –

You can take your pick of reasons for the escalation, from time of year – this time last year, and of course 2014, also saw an escalation of shelling – to the upcoming US presidential election. But, there’s no question, Ukrainian shelling is intensifying in both the DPR, and LPR, and there are victims.

Updates from the DLPR (#3) A Visit to a Lugansk ‘Gulag’ (as the BBC said).

A recent BBC article blazed

Human rights activists in eastern Ukraine say they have evidence that slave labour camps reminiscent of Soviet gulags are operating in rebel-controlled areas. A newly published report alleges that 5,000 people in the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic are held in solitary confinement, beaten, starved or tortured if they refuse to carry out unpaid work

However, the BBC had made a few fundamental ‘mistakes’ here –

  • They’d never once visited the prison in question they wrote so much about
  • They took an interview from a blatantly ‘pro-Ukrainian’ former inmate, and took his word about the terms of his detention as gospel
  • They took the word of a ‘Human Rights Group’ based in Kiev, with clear links to the Kiev government as gospel
  • There’s no evidence, videos, photos, to back up the extremely extreme claims that they make

In my new special reportage from Lugansk, now with full English subtitles, I go to visit the prison the BBC described as a ‘gulag’ here –

A Graham Newsletter (#14) Updates from the DLPR – ‘gulags’, and more!

Hello once more!

Firstly, I’m glad to say that things have calmed down a bit since the last newsletter, which found me dealing with death threats, and more, from the Ukrainian side. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pleased to focus more attention on work in Donbass, and less on processing a barrage of messages, online lynchmobs etc, threatening my instant demise.

I’ve been pleased to start a new series here, on this site, giving you all factual updates from the DPR, and LPR. You can read the first one here, about the upheaval in the LPR, as it was, and the second here, about the recent primary elections held here.

I’m also going to be starting another new series soon, when English subtitles are added to videos from a little back, which still have relevance, so look out for that! As for now, there are already English subs on a lot of new reportage – not to mention the videos in the above updates!

Firstly, I was delighted to present my new film from Lugansk, with Oleg Somov (who does the production, effects for my film projects), a Master Class here by legendary fighter Jeff Monson (English, or English subs) –

Also in Lugansk, I was pleased to have the opportunity to put some questions to the OSCE, at a press conference they did here –

In a world of high-gloss news production, in which news can so easily, and effectively, become propaganda, I like to take things back to basics, as much as possible. This reportage, doing exactly what western media have deliberately never done here, simply speaking to residents on the Gorlovka frontline, asking what they want (all English subs, thanks very much to Sergey Yermolayev for this, and many others) –

And this reportage, going to places other media won’t take you, to a buffer zone of the conflict in Donbass to find out exactly how it is there –

As well as keeping you updated with news, and facts from Donbass, I also like to bring you as close to life here as possible, for you to meet the people here. Here, Lakshmi, in Lugansk since 2011, from India –

And show you life here how it really is. Here, repainting Lenin in the LPR –

Here, Lugansk students –

And here, a demonstration against US, NATO military intervention in Donbass, in Lugansk –

My most recent special reportage, this, from the LPR, as a flare goes up, and a walk to Ukrainian positions to see what’s going on, and if the proposed weapon withdrawal will go ahead –

Of coure, this is the highlights, there’s been a lot more – and what reportage will come next? Well, I read the recent BBC article about prisons in the DPR and LPR being like ‘gulags’, with ‘torture’, ‘starvation’, and more. I even know the journalist who wrote it, a former colleague of mine from my time in Kiev, Patrick Evans. I also know that he’s never been here.

So, to see an article circulated everywhere, with the BBC sheen of credibility, when it’s actually just a rewriting of a report by yet another ‘human rights’ organisation, set up in Kiev to write reports damning the non-Ukrainian areas of Donbass, under the guise of forementioned ‘human rights’ organisation…. passed up the chain by a former colleague I enjoyed a friendly relationship with.


It’s an ungratifying thing. I detest lies, the BBC propaganda machine which makes them claiming someone I’d previously held in esteem. So, I went to spend a day in one of them, to report how it really is. The reality. Not a rewriting of a pro-Kiev press release by a shamefully pro-Kiev BBC, with a once journalist turned propaganda merchant. My prison reportage to come soon, photos from that here, along with much more. Huge thanks for being with me, and making it happen! 

Updates from DLPR(#2) Primaries, and Prison ‘slave labour camps’

Second in the series of updates from the DLPR about how things really are here – all my work is totally independent, funded by crowdfunding – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3-months-independent-objective-donbass-journalism#/https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3-months-independent-objective-donbass-journalism#/

The Lugansk, LPR, primaries were held on Sunday, October 2nd. 80 polling stations in Lugansk were open, from 08.00 to 20.00. Voting was in Lugansk, and the adjacent villages of Jubilee and Aleksandrovsk. Some photos here – by Polish photographer David Hudziec –

The preceeding week saw around 30 international observers in the city, given daily excursions around museums, and sights of the Lugansk People’s Republic. These individuals were not from an organisation, and in fact the OSCE upon being asked at a press conference last week why they would not be observing the primaries, replied that the OSCE did not do that.

So it was, volunteers from across the world – France, Italy, Finland, Palestine, Israel, USA, Poland, and India, were put up by the Lugansk People’s Republic, but received no financial recompense, for taking part in an active programme, culminating in observing the primaries. Here are some of my interviews with them (all English) –

Sana, the translator – 

Inna, from Israel, here – 

Observers from Finland and Georgia here – 

Poland here – 

And, on the day itself? The total turnout was reported as 61,323 – high, given that only 34,450 were on the preliminary list to vote. Requirement to vote was a passport, local address, and those not on the list this time, were added to the database. Incidentally, Lugansk pre-war had a population of over 400,000, what it is now is open to estimate. LPR sources will claim it’s near back to pre-war levels, a more realistic assessment could be closer to 300,000.

I filmed unedited footage of the 4 polling stations I visited, the first of which I put up in English, from early in the morning –

I filmed several more polling station videos, in Russian, if there’s a strong desire, I can add English subtitles, but I do only currently have a team of 2 volunteer subtitlers, so have to select what can be done. If you’d like to join my team, please email me at – gwplondon@gmail.com

Otherwise, what to say, the polling stations were as polling stations should be, everything was in order, ordered, people who voted knew who and what they were voting for. The main vote, for the mayor of Lugansk, was comfortably won by incumbent Manolis Pilavov, with 86%, which matched what people were saying at the polls. As for Pilavov (pictured), he’s a likeable, moderate, popular city head, widely perceived to have done a good job in his 2 years at the helm, tipped to play a big part in the LPR going forward.

pilavov

Back to the primaries, the count, again, organised, ordered, everything you would expect of an election count done to standard –


On from the primaries, and it was a calm week in Lugansk. The ‘main news’, as it were, actually came a long way from Lugansk, from a journalist who’s never even been here, Patrick Evans – actually a former colleague of mine from Kiev. Patrick, dutifully rewriting a patently pro-Kiev ‘humanitarian group’ ‘s report, passed on that the prisons in the LPR (and DPR) are like ‘slave labour camps‘.

That’s something that, being here myself, I’ll be looking into soon. For now, that’s all for this latest update, thanks for being with me!