I’m a completely crowdfunded correspondent, to make an ongoing donation to my work, the link is here.
2016 was a year which saw some tragedies, some loved ones leave the world, so it’s difficult to describe the year, on a personal level, as anything other than tough.
However, on a working level, it was very productive. Hundreds of videos of reportage, more, several films, over 15 million views on my channel, many millions more on other channels, extensive exposure in worldwide media. These are some of the highlights. The year started in Donbass, with my preparing to leave Donbass, for a period in Russia, and on.
That period saw me go up to St Petersburg, where I had a holiday, then filmed reportage, and also worked on my first proper film, with Oleg Somov – Aramis.
St Petersburg was also where I recorded the video, setting my future out as a completely crowdfunded journalist –
If I’m honest, I was worried, in January, if it would be possible to continue solely as a crowdfunded correspondent. After I parted company with Zvezda in early 2015, for the rest of 2015 I’d worked on such, modest earnings from my YouTube channel, and savings. Thanks to your support, however, I’ve been able, and am able to work on as a completely crowdfunded correspondent.
Following St Petersburg, it was more reportage, and onto what was intended to be a period of several weeks filming reportage from the Baltics. In the event, it was only 3 days, as my asking people attending a march honouring a battalion which fought for the Nazis, why they were doing that, saw me arrested, deported, banned for three years.
This was the reportage I’d managed to film in Latvia, and Estonia, prior to that –
The unexpected, unwelcome, turn of events saw me deported into Russia, with Latvian authorities actually lying to me, telling me I was also banned from Estonia and Lithuania, so Russia was the only option. It was onto Moscow, where I stayed for a few weeks, working out my next move, filming this reportage that has, across channels, accumulated well more than half a million views –
My interview with Doctor Liza, who tragically lost her life on Tu-154. May she rest in peace.
This reportage from Moscow, about Odessa, where I’d lived before the Ukraine conflict –
From finishing this, it was right down to Crimea, via the Savchenko trial. I stayed in Crimea for over a month, filming reportage, one of the highlights of this being my first interview with Natalia Poklonskaya, culminating in a crowdfunded film, Crimea: Victory Day 2016, again with Oleg Somov, combining footage from people all over Crimea into a unique film of how the celebration was marked across the peninsula.
I’d also filmed reportage in Crimea, this, from Evpatoria, asking people whether they wanted to be Russia, or Ukraine –
After Crimea, it was briefly back to Donbass, including a trip to the frontlines –
And from here, back to the UK, where I began work on my crowdfunded project, of reportage about the upcoming referendum. As part of that project, I set off around Europe, highlights of that trip being reportage from the ‘jungle’ in Calais –
Interviewing Ukrainian football fans in Lille during Euro 2016 –
And returning to Latvia, despite the deportation, ban, to film more reportage from there –
There was also reportage from Denmark –
From there, it was back to the UK, where I filmed extensive pre-Brexit reportage, there were around 100 videos in total, from Dundee, Birmingham, and London.
All of this reportage was generally well received, with hits often breaking out into the tens of thousands. However, it was post-Brexit that things really went big, with these videos. This one, of a conflict at the March for Europe, getting near 140,000 views, and featured across media, including the Huffington Post –
While this one, of young anti-Brexit protester Hollie, has gained near 200,000 views, again featured across media, including the Express here –
After completion of the Brexit reportage project, I travelled around Europe, filming about MH17, including a visit to propaganda agency Correctiv in Berlin, for work on a film due later this year. I filmed reportage in the Netherlands, about Theo van Gogh –
I also filmed reportage in Germany, which turned out to be among my most popular of the year, including this reportage, my most popular of the year, street interviews in Munich, with over half a million views, rising by thousands each week –
From there, it was back to the UK, and preparation for my crowdfunded film, a ‘A Brit (on his holidays) in Crimea’. That went very well, the film is due in June (I’ll be back in the UK filming more for it soon, then Crimea again) . I stayed on in Crimea to film some more reportage, this, on Crimean Tatars –
And this, about the Irishman who arrived when Crimea was Ukraine, but stayed (not technically legally) after it became Russia –
Here, asking Evpatoria residents how their city could be improved –
The most popular in terms of hits, with over 250,000, was my trip to the border between Crimea, and Ukraine –
There was also this film, about a day in Sevastopol! From there, it was a return to Donbass, and the months that followed have brought scores of videos of special reportage, including this look back to how war was in Lugansk in 2014, with the opening of a new memorial –
This trip to show you what it’s really like in a Donbass buffer zone, which is neither one country nor the other…
This special reportage, comprehensively debunking a BBC report, that there were ‘gulags’ in the Lugansk People’s Republic –
When Ukrainian shelling intensified in November, I was there to film is –
This reportage, of weapons made in the Lugansk People’s Republic, tested there –
And this special reportage from School 60 in Lugansk, on which I’m still working on English subtitles for, with the help of one of my volunteers, Anastasia –
There was reportage on the OSCE –
There were also, of course, scandals in that time, notably this one, from September, when I interviewed a Ukrainian terrorist –
Things really kicked off after this, with it getting considerable attention in the media, and Ukraine officially asking the UK to punish me. I also received thousands of comments online, messages of abuse, and death threats from ‘pro-Ukrainians’. What to say about this? I’m not interested in scandal, other people create it to suit their own ends. To me, it was standard reportage, I was glad when the fuss died down, and I could get on with work.
In November, I was pleased to start to bring you reportage in a different way, 360 degrees, giving you total control over the camera – this, a tour of a Donetsk building wrecked by Ukrainian shelling –
Here, Pervomaisk –
This, exclusive, unique, totally unedited special reportage from Pervomaisk, in 360 –
As for war reportage, there were frequent trips to the frontline, with interviews, including this –
Capturing Ukrainian forces heavy shelling by militia positions, in clear violation of Minsk –
Also, when it was possible (I’m banned from Ukraine, ‘freedom of press’ there etc), I interviewed Ukrainain soldiers, as here –
As for films, Oleg Somov (with whom I’ve worked on several projects together now) really worked to make this film about Kramatorsk, Victory Day, a masterpiece –
And, in full English, he did the same with the Jeff Monson Masterclass in Lugansk!
Before New Year in Donetsk, this was the reportage of the Christmas Tree opening –
My message to you on New Year –
This was how the New Year was seen in, in Donetsk –
In 2017, I’ve already been happy to bring you an exclusive documentary, about the Dutchman who’s been in Donbass all war –
And this most recent video, to mark 1000 days of war in Donbass –
What more to expect from 2017? I’m leaving Donbass for a couple of months soon, with reportage to come from Russia, the UK, a special trip to Serbia, and more! There will be new videos on MH17 starting soon.
I’m extremely grateful, in 2016, for all the help in subtitles by the amazing Sergey Yermolayev, my amazing volunteer, from Latvia, living in Canada. More on him soon! In 2017, I’m looking to raise the game further still, with faster, and more subtitles!
I’m also always looking to make innovations to make my work better, more interesting for you. The most important thing – it’s always 100% objective, true reportage. And that’s all thanks to you, and your support!
We go on into 2017 together!
All the best! Graham