Here’s what happens as I go along to a recent event as part of the LSE Literary Festival, in London, on the subject of Maidan:
Here’s what happens as I go along to a recent event as part of the LSE Literary Festival, in London, on the subject of Maidan:
In August of 2016, I went to film an interview, in Oldham, with Ben Stimson, British man who’d fought with the people’s militia in Donbass, here is that documentary.
Ben was in a pretty desperate situation when I met up with him – penniless, hungry, paranoid due to the threat of imprisonment hanging over him. As a journalist, I wanted to film an objective documentary, as a person, I wanted to help a man, a countryman, in a plight. So it was, I provided meals for Ben, and a little for sustenance.
My impressions of Ben were predicated by the fact that I felt he was in a desperate situation, and of primary concern to him was, for want of a better expression, saving his own skin. Ben (pictured, at positions in Donbass) had originally been arrested on the basis of an interview he’d done with the BBC, here. However, his main worry had actually been a second interview he’d done with the BBC, unreleased, which he believed was potentially more damaging to him. He told me that he’d been in contact with Tom Burridge, of the BBC, who’d assured him this interview would not be released.
Ben’s relationship with the BBC vacillated between indignation at having been ‘stitched up’, yet also the feeling that still lingers with many in the UK, that the BBC is somehow a ‘benevolent’ organisation, which would look after him, as they’d told him they would. As for the ‘stitched up’, this is what the BBC did to Ben:
Yet, Tom Burridge had been in touch with Ben, telling him that despite this, the BBC would make sure everything was ok for him, etc etc. When I filmed Ben in August, things were in limbo for him, he’d been going to sign on at his local police station every couple of days for almost six months, with little sign of anything going anywhere. He was living, hand to mouth, in council accommodation, having spent time on the streets.
Yet, after the release of my documentary, in August, things moved quickly. At the end of September, Ben was already charged with terrorism offences, and remanded in custody. I had been in touch with Ben in August, and September, and knew that Tom Burridge had contacted him, after the release of my documentary, incensed with what Ben had said about the BBC, telling Ben that they’d now be releasing the 2nd interview he had feared, and worse.
My overall feelings towards Ben were mixed. He was not an unintelligent man in many ways, however he was a man in a desperate situation, being used, and manipulated by people, and I felt he was liable to say whatever necessary to, as I’ve mentioned ‘save his own skin’. Therefore, I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn that, in response to Burridge’s threats, Ben had thrown me under the bus, telling Burridge that I’d filmed a ‘pro-separatist’ documentary, and leaving out bits that actually, were never even there – I’d just put everything up as it was.
My over-riding feeling towards Ben had been a sense of injustice on his part, and that he was being unfairly persecuted. British man Chris Garrett, Swampy, had fought for Ukraine’s neo-Nazi battalion, come back to the UK, and not only had no one touched him, he’d gone around trolling Russia...
Ben had fought for the other side, those defending themselves against the Ukrainian army, carrying out the manifesto of a government which came about after a violent overthrow in Kiev, and was now being charged. I believed in Ben’s cause, in justice, and told Ben that, if he stuck with me, I’d always be there to go to bat for him. However, Ben didn’t do that, the BBC came, breathed threats on him while baiting him with the promise of help from them which I’d told him was never going to come, the opposite rather, and Ben had betrayed our trust.
So, if there’s one word which defines how I feel about the whole situation it is, ambiguous. And I do wonder on what pretence Ben is up facing charges – I wouldn’t rule out him having made a deal to say what the courts want to hear, that it is a ‘Russian invasion‘ in Donbass etc etc, in return for his freedom. That may seem harsh on Ben, but my strong impression of him was that, although I never asked him specifically to say anything, that he would say anything if he thought it would save him.
Of course, I have documented evidence of Ben saying the opposite of what he may say, or be made to say, in a British court. And I sincerely hope I’m wrong, that Ben will not lie in court, say what people want to hear, simply to save himself. I hope he won’t, as he did with Tom Burridge, throw me under the bus because he thinks it’ll boost his case.
However, in any case, Ben’s sitution has my full support. As a point of principle, I absolutely support a verdict of innocent for Ben. The UK justice system must be fair, and consistent. How can it be that a man who goes to fight for a neo-Nazi Ukrainian battalion is free to walk the streets of the UK absolutely untouched? Part of a Ukrainian army guilty of carrying out multiple crimes against civilians of Donbass, shelling civilian areas… , mass death and destruction.
The charges against Ben: “the intention of committing acts of terrorism and engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to this intention”, and “the intention of committing acts of terrorism and assisting acts of terrorism” are clearly a complete fabrication, a fiction.
I will be there, for at least part of Ben’s trial, in the UK in July, to cover it. And I will, as stated, absolutely support the principle that UK law must be consistent – the diffence in treatment between Stimson and Garrett is absolutely ridiculous, a travesty.
However, as for supporting Ben Stimson himself, as an individual, let’s see how he acts. He’s pleading not guilty, and indeed I’ll hope that Ben stays true to what he told me, his honest word, and not that UK forces work on Ben so he ends up in court as a stooge to tell lies about Donbass to suit the BBC, and British government.
I’d love to have this new reportage, about journalism in Ukraine pre and post Euromaidan, in as many languages as possible!
Can you help? Write in the subtitles, add in the comments section here.
Thanks again! Graham
This Wednesday, UK MP Neil Parish raised in parliament the murder of Barry Pring, a UK citizen killed 9 years ago near Kiev, all evidence shows, by his Ukrainian wife, Anna Ziuzina. The Ukrainian investigation has gone nowhere, covered up at every level from police to political, even more aggressively covered up now in post-Euromaidan Ukraine.
The case has now attracted a very high profile, going even higher with the first mention in UK parliament, and in fact in our earlier interview, Neil Parish went so far as to stay it was of key significance in overall relations between the UK and Ukraine. So, what was the Ukrainian reaction after the matter was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions? Well, the Ukrainian Embassy indeed rushed to release a statement about it, the first time Ukraine has responded to the matter in 9 years.
And it was a (short) statement, saying they would be doing nothing about it. So, why would the Ukrainian Embassy, always keen to exalt relations between the UK and Ukraine, be doing nothing to assist an investigation clearly going nowhere, of a UK citizen in Ukraine? Why won’t they, as requested by Neil Parish, with the support of Boris Johnson, at least raise the matter with Kiev?
Are they too busy? Well, let’s have a look at the actions of the Ukrainian Embassy, in London. I know this first-hand, being a freelance journalist who’s covered the story from Donbass which the Ukrainian powers would do anything for you not to hear – that most people in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic do not want to be part of Ukraine, that Ukrainian forces have relentlessly targeted civilian areas of Donbass with shelling. Further, I’ve reported from Crimea, as it is.
All of which has attracted the ire of Ukraine, and their embassy in London, which is actually perhaps the most active Ukrainian embassy of all, sending out a stream of letters, putting on events, and more. When I took a tough stance in an interview with a Ukrainian terrorist last September in Donbass, they boiled over, with the Ukrainian embassy in the UK sending out this missive, 22nd September 2016:
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.
Mr. Graham Phillips, after his appearance in the eastern part of Ukraine in 2014-2015 on the side of pro-Russian terrorists and after been deported in July 2014 from Ukraine and in March 2016 from Latvia, has settled again in our country – this time in Crimea – another part of Ukrainian territory occupied by the Russian Federation. He continues there his abhorrent behaviour and open public insults towards Ukrainian citizens and military men, who are defending Ukraine.
Recently in front of OSCE representatives, humanitarian organizations and mass media this self-proclaimed journalist tried to disrupt a release from Russian captivity of the Ukrainian citizens. When speaking disgustedly to one of the exchanged Ukrainian prisoners – a civilian non-combatant, badly injured by Russian booby-trap device person, blinded, maimed and imprisoned for more than a year by the pro-Russian terrorists, Mr. Phillips resorted to caddish harassments and insults about the disabilities of that person. Such behaviour is disgraceful and humiliating.
Having moved to Crimea through Russia Mr. Phillips has bluntly violated laws of Ukraine regarding the entry procedures into the occupied territories of Ukraine.
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.
* On September 22, 2016 this Open Letter was sent to the competent British authorities for their further reaction.
Let’s look past all the hysteria in this dispatch, from a clearly emotional ambassador, 38-year-old Natalia Galibarenko (pictured), all the lies, the obsession with Russia, to what it was. A strident attempt to halt the work of an independent journalist. An attempt to have the passport of a UK citizen, myself, taken by his own country.
It didn’t work. The UK may be deeply mistaken in their policies on Donbass, Crimea, Russia in general, but the UK is at least a serious country. They simply told Ukraine that I hadn’t broken any British laws, and that was that.
In January, I returned home, to the UK, and attended an event organised by the Ukrainian Embassy in London, at Westminster, marking 25 years of diplomatic cooperation between the UK and Ukraine. I raised the question as to whether the event would be mentioning Ukraine’s shelling of civilian areas of Donbass, with mass civilian casualties and fatalities.
I was ejected from the event for asking this question. The Ukrainian Embassy then went on to write (another) long letter to the FCO complaining about me:
This came into my possession when journalist, Max Clarke, doing a documentary on me, contacted them. They added a lengthy email to this, and I understand they regularly send out emails to anyone who’ll read them, about myself. As the above letter, they are now rather desperately urging, with their now trademark hysteria, for anyone just to do anything to stop me.
So, we’ve established one core component in the workflow of the Ukrainian Embassy in London – a steady stream of letters to stop the work of a journalist they don’t like. When I recently asked them for an interview, to discuss the murder of Barry Pring, their response came in the form of a threat, suggesting I go for an “interview” at the special services office in Kiev:
But, of course, this isn’t all they do. The Ukrainian Embassy in London send out a constant torrent of tweets about all the bad stuff they allege Russia has done, blaming Russia for all their problems.
And that’s just a selection from the last couple of days, as it really does go on, and on, and on….. Clearly, Ukraine’s Embassy in London, for the UK, are far too engaged in harassing a journalist, and relentlessly trolling Russia, to give dealing with a serious diplomatic issue, such as the Barry Pring case, anything more than a cursory moment.
And by the way, to show you these tweets, I had to log out of my own Twitter account as, that’s right, after their campaign against me, the Ukrainian Embassy in the UK have now indeed blocked me on Twitter.
So, the Ukrainian Embassy in London pumps out endless pro-Ukraine propaganda, attacks any who challenge that, and when all that fails, blocks them. Let’s see how that works out for them.
Crimea is a territory comparatively small in area, 27,000 km2, but unquestionably huge in international significance. It may not even be too much a stretch to describe the black sea peninsula as the centre of the global information, or misinformation war. Every day in the media – Crimea threats, Crimea strategies, Crimea occupation , Crimea repression. Meanwhile, here are the images circulated:
And there’s one thing in common with all of this, by the way – no one who writes, or draws, any of it is in Crimea, or even near Crimea. It’s distance propaganda. I’ll do that again with a hashtag #distancepropaganda
Last summer, I took a British, Scottish even, man to Crimea – on his holidays. No budget (crowdfunding didn’t cover costs so he had to pay for his own holiday), no agenda. Just an experiment. Or a holiday even. In the eye of the Crimean propaganda storm, can you actually go on holiday to what is one of the most beautiful places in the world?
I’ll also be returning to Crimea this summer to film more material, to bring the film bang-up-to-date. And, the film will be released online this summer, with a premiere in the United Kingdom! More details to come, and as you can see, as I work away on the film, the Crimea atmosphere is all around.
Much more to come!
I’m always looking for ways to get the truth out to as wide an audience as possible. English and Russian cover a lot of the world, but not nearly all. Many people are still coming to the situation in Donbass not knowing much about it at all.
So, after attending a recent LSE propaganda seminar, I made this video, an introduction to Euromaidan, in English:
The format is effective, and can be put into a number of languages. Actually here, I asked your help in doing just that, and have already had several responses. The video is already up in Italian, with much more to come.
So, watch out for much more of that to come, and be sure I’ll be asking for your help, and input, along the way!
Very best, Graham
Yesterday, MP Neil Parish raised the murder of Barry Pring in the UK Houses of Parliament. –
Neil Parish strongly criticised the response from Ukraine, on a policing and political level. And indeed, over 9 years on, and all Ukraine has done is move the case from investigator to investigator, cover up. Yesterday, for the first ever time, there was an official response from Ukraine, the Ukrainian Embassy in the UK:
The Embassy of Ukraine in London took note of the question raised in the UK Parliament on February 22 during PMQ session with regard to the death of UK citizen Mr. Barry Pring in 2008 in Ukraine and the relevant criminal investigation.
In March 2012 the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reclassified this criminal case as a premeditated murder. The case is still under investigation in Ukraine by Prosecutor’s Office of the Kyiv Region and local criminal police. All legal representatives in this process will be duly notified and updated on the progress in the investigation.
The Embassy of Ukraine in London is not a law enforcement agency and cannot interfere or in any way influence a criminal investigation. Nor do we consider it appropriate that the criminal investigation be conducted under any political or personal pressure. All concerns with regard to this case should be addressed to the relevant Ukrainian investigative authorities – the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine. The Embassy stands ready to assist with such communication and further cooperation between Ukrainian and British authorities on this case.
So, that’s it, they’re not going to do anything. It’s not like they don’t have remit – embassies are flexible diplomatic institutions, and each has its own scope of activity. The Ukrainian embassy in London seem to spend all their time putting out tweets blaming everything on Russia, and writing angry letters to anyone who has a word to say against Ukraine.
(Barry Pring and Anna Ziuzina in photo)
It’s not as if Ukraine can’t take action quickly either, when they want. The Ukrainian government hasn’t appreciated my work covering the conflict there, twice deporting me, banning me from the country, simply for being a freelance journalist. Last week, without my being informed in any way, Ukrainian authorities moved quickly to seize access to my phone records (article by Graeme Strachan) over there.
When I asked the Ukrainian Embassy for an interview, via Twitter, their reply was a threat:
And I’ve written them many more tweets, and emails, asking to speak with them. However, no reply. I will use this forum to ask once more, for the opportunity to meet them in London, and hand over my report on the murder of Barry Pring, which was cited by the UK coroner.
I also know that Barry’s brother Shaughan has repeatedly, and is repeatedly, trying to make contact with Ukrainian authorities, as yet, to no avail.