A Graham Newsletter (#17) Dr Liza and Tragedy on Christmas, news from Donbass

I had wanted to write this wishing you a Happy Christmas, but the tragic crash of flight Tu-154 meant there was nothing happy about the day. While mourning for drliz4all the 92 victims on board, I was devastated to learn that in their number was Doctor Liza, an incredible lady who had visited Donbass 16 times during war, taking hundreds of, often severely, wounded children to Russia and the medical treatment which, in many cases, saved their lives.

We’d been in touch since early 2015, and in 2016 of this year, I’d had the pleasure of meeting her, spending a day together, the result of which was an interview, an extract of which, I’ll show you below, the text here: There was a girl, who was given a terrible outlook, and Vika (kindly shortening of Victoria), she became well, and was coming up to the guard and would dance – a little swan or some other part, she was making such a show – a child that could not even SIT before, she lay on the arms. So, you see… Everything is possible, Grisha

I’d agreed with Doctor Liza a few days ago to make a documentary film about her in Moscow, in January, was really looking forward to seeing her. It was, and is, shattering news, and hard to think how to go forward without her. A huge loss, one felt particularly acutely in Donbass, where she did so much, helped so many, was a symbol of hope for all.

Thoughts with all those, families, relatives of victims of flight Tu-154, Doctor Liza I knew, and adored, it’s a very tough loss.

***

Just over a week ago, I visited Pervomaisk, to give you a unique 360-degree tour of an apartment building wrecked by Ukrainian shellling –

My assistant for this reportage, Vera, with English subtitltes –

And here’s how we made that video –

The last week saw me go to the frontlines, with Patrick Lancaster, to bring you some unique reportage. With the eyes of the world elsewhere, here’s how Ukrainian forces were shelling, by Debalstevo –

Here was an interview with a Donbass militia on the frontlines, before battle kicked off –

Here was battle waging on the frontlines –

And here’s modern warfare, a Ukrainian drone flying overhead, as shelling goes on –

The town of Debalstevo itself then came under shelling –

The last few days have seen an attempted ceasefire over the festive period fail to hold, however also a de-escalation from the days before Christmas.

I now leave to Russia for a few days, to film about Doctor Liza, and will return to Donbass in the new year. Here was the recent opening of the Christmas Tree, in Donetsk –

And in 360 degrees –

It’s been devastating news, about flight Tu-154. I wish you all the best for the season, to stay safe, there’ll be another newsletter before the new year.

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