My Recent Return to Donetsk, How is it There, Really?

I recently returned to Donetsk, Donbass, after spending an intense 2-month period working in Crimea.  I was primarliy in the DPR to do a distribution of humanitarian aid to children’s homes, which was done, to huge success.

I’ll soon be returning to Crimea for another period of reportage, but it was a real pleasure to spend some time in Donetsk, walk around the city I’ve spent so much time in, covered so many events from.
What to say about life in Donetsk, honestly? Well, there can’t be any fairytales about a ‘booming’ DPR, apart from that shelling still goes on on the perimeters, with almost daily damage, regular casualties, and sometimes fatalities. However, the city lives, most shops are now open, people are on the streets. There’s no real confusing it with normal life, there’s a certain tension, which could hardly be any other given an ongoing war situation. But, as I say, life goes on – 

Despite the circumstances, the people of Donetsk are as friendly as ever. I ran into these bright young things on the city’s main Artema St, with them just back from the World Festival of Youth and Students, in Sochi. 

And the city itself is not without brighter things in life, when I was there, a show ‘Fashion without Borders’, showcasing the work of local designers –

So, as I say, you couldn’t really say that it was ‘business as usual’, but in a lot of ways, Donetsk looks like any other – people are in cafes, cars are on the roads, people on the  streets, and so on. However, true to say, a fair amount of shops still shuttered, no working banks, apart from local, and curfew. But, there’s no real military presence, the days I was there, no audible shelling from the centre, and in general, people just trying to get on with their lives, hoping for something to resolve this already protracted, egregious, unnecessary situation…

War Child UK – They Pick and Choose their Wars…

I recently began a series of reports documenting Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass, including those against children – over 100 children killed by Ukrainian military action in Donbass, many more maimed. One of the main aims of this project is to get a comment from one of the many organisations dedicated to protecting the rights of those in war, in many cases the rights of children.

I started off with War Child UK, an organisation with a high-media profile, very active on social media. About them, here, from wikipedia:

War Child
 is a non-governmental organisation founded in the UK in 1993 which provides assistance to children in areas experiencing conflict and the aftermath of conflict. The establishment of War Child UK was soon followed by organisations in Canada and the Netherlands.

I tweeted War Child with a link to my report, many times, asking for their comment on this. My tweets to War Child were either retweeted or liked, around 1500 times. Meaning War Child were notified of it around 1500 times. But still, stony silence from them. Meanwhile, War Child were tweeting about wars in Syria, Yemen, Africa, and more – read all about that here. But completely ignoring Donbass. Not even an acknowledgement.

Meanwhile, war in Donbass goes on, people are still being killed by shelling, just the other day, 3 children orphaned as Ukrainian shelling hit in Gorlovka, Donbass, killing their father.  But, it’s safe to say that War Child do not care about this at all.

Is it political, is Donbass just not a trendy enough war? Questions for War Child, which it seems certain they won’t answer. War Child pick and choose their Wars, Donbass is clearly not one.

My series will continue, the search for an agency who will comment will continue. One down. 

(18+) Children Killed by Ukrainian War Crimes in Donbass (#1) Marina, Refugee Bus

By the most conservative estimates, over 100 children have been killed in the breakaway regions of Donbass, by Ukrainian military action. Yet, the west are silent on this. Why?

Is it because western governments are supporting this?

I am a British journalist, Graham Phillips, who has been covering the war in Donbass for over 3 years. In that time, sadly, I’ve covered the deaths of around 15 children, killed by Ukrainian military action, with many more wounded.

This is the first in a series, documenting children killed by the Ukrainian military.

On August 20th, 2014, mid-afternoon, Marina, 7, and her mother Natalya were queueing for humanitarian aid in the centre of a crisis-hit Lugansk.

Shelling, fired by Ukrainian forces from their positions at the nearby Lugansk airport, hit, seriously wounding Natalya, and blowing off Marina’s leg. A couple of days later, I filmed this interview with Natalya at a Lugansk hospital: full English subs –

Marina was in a coma at this time, she never emerged from that, dying the next morning.

In early September, the 2nd, 2014, I filmed the following scene, by the village of Khryaschuvate, a few kilometres outside of Lugansk. A refugee truck, destroyed on August 18th. Ukrainian forces had pulled over the truck at their blockpost. A member of the Lugansk People’s Militia was escorting the truck, with some 20 mostly women and children trying to flee war, on it.

Upon seeing the member of the people’s militia, Ukrainian forces immediately opened fire on the truck. This was the result, at least 17 killed, in their number, many children, as you can see –

Realising their mistake, the Ukrainian side told a strange, convoluted story about this one. On Tuesday the 19th, they were already declaring to the press that they’d ‘recovered 15 bodies’ from the fatal incident, while trying to blame it on the Lugansk People’s militia. Yet, some two weeks later, I found the above scene – in the meantime, Ukrainian forces had held positions right next to the destroyed truck, with the bodies of its victims scattered around:

Photos here:

These were to be the first, but sadly far from the last time I would see children killed by the Ukrainian military in Donbass. The series will continue.

Please, help to spread this, share this, so more people know the truth about Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass. 

A Graham Newsletter (#35) Misinformation, Disinformation, and how to fight all that.

Recent weeks have seen many developments, including the blocking of my YouTube channel, for 2 weeks, for a video from Donbass, from 2014, of which I’ve written about here – https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/07/fighting-censorship-and-the-future-of-my-18-videos/

The actions of YouTube have forced me to remove all 18+ video material – from the war in Donbass, from my YouTube channel – I’ve written about that here, and will be posting the material here.

In removing this material, I removed an archive of over 100 videos, much of it documenting Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass. Millions of views, new views every day. Of course, people need to know this, to see this. I’ll be using this site, the Truth Speaker, where there’s no censor at all, to present these videos in the correct format. This video, result of Ukrainian shelling of Lugansk, August 2014 –

And here, information about, and context of this video – 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/09/18-donbass-war-when-ukrainian-shelling-hit-lugansk-august-2014/

Not able to use YouTube, which holds an effective monopoly for videos, means we need to try that bit harder to get the word, the truth, out. Please, share, repost, like, do what you can – we need to be together in this goal, of more people knowing the truth! 

This was the video which started the problems with YouTube, with them removing this, then content featured in the video (already on YouTube for years)

I’ve now taken the necessary steps to bring my account in line with ‘YouTube Community Standards’, but the problem is that the ‘standards’ have changed – a video that was approved by them in 2014, and on the site for years, is now a ‘violation’. That video, my first to pass 2 million views, and rising all the time, one which had a real impact in showing people the realities of war in Donbass

Of course, it can be hard, emotionally, for me to remember these thing. I’ve written about that here. 

Censorship is just one of the issues facing journalists. There are the dangers inherent with the profession, for which some journalists have made the ultimate sacrifice. Here, I’ve written about US journalist Christopher Allen, killed while covering conflict in Sudan –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/07/christopher-allen-kia-a-journalist-is-a-journalist/

And Kim Wall, recently killed while reporting on a homemade submarine, off Denmark. 

May they both rest in peace, and be remembered for their work. 

I’ve written about them both here, and about the role of a journalist, to go to where there is either the least information, or the most misinformation – https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/14/the-role-of-a-journalist-to-go-to-where-there-is-the-most-disinformation-or-no-information/

The world has several current key epicentres of mis, and disinformation. North Korea is certainly one of them. I was very pleased to present an exclusive interview, on the Truth Speaker, with the guys who made this indie documentary, The Haircut, well worth a watch:

And the exclusive interview, with Alex and Aleksa – here! 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/15/exclusive-interview-with-the-haircut-north-korea-documentary-guys/

As for me, I’ve written here, about moving on from Donbass, but staying with Donbass, when I’ll return there, and more. 

For now, I’m in another of one of the world’s disinformation capitals, Crimea!!

That began with, a simple, but effective, tackling of the constant rhetoric from Ukraine that the beaches in Crimea are ’empty’, ‘everything is bad’ etc... How better to do that, than to let Ukrainians in Crimea themselves, speak for themselves –

Full interviews here! 

And look out for much more reportage to come! Fighting information, and disinformation, on the beaches and on! 

18+ The Donbass War Video with 2+ Million Views, Removed by YouTube

YouTube recently removed this video from my channel. This video, approved by their own ‘Community Guidelines’ in October 2014, now, almost 3 years later, with over 2 million views rising all the time – a video which had let people from all over the world see the reality of the Ukraine war, now ‘in violation’ of those ‘Community Guidelines’.

This, the result of Ukrainian forces shelling of the city of Donetsk, Donbass, October 2014 – 

I appealed about this to YouTube, but they rejected that. It’s a real shame when a site which should be a window to events in the world, slams that window shut….

A Lot of ‘pro-Ukraine’ Videos for such a ‘Russian Propagandist’

I’ve recently announced that the next period of my reportage takes me away from Donbass, where I’ve extensively covered for the past, over 3 years. It’s an interesting part of this, that somewhere along the line, some decided that I’m some sort of a ‘Russian propagandist’ –

British Citizen Exposed as a Tool of Russia’s FSB

Pro-Russian propagandist Graham Phillips detained in Riga

Pro-Kremlin journalist Graham Phillips deported from Latvia and blacklisted for three years

Why some people have decided this? Well, I could say ‘I’m not sure’, and all that, but I know perfectly well. Because I didn’t report near universally ‘pro-Ukraine’ news – and in fact the bulk of my reports has always been letting people on the ground talk, and putting that out unedited. 

As it happens, people on the ground simply didn’t say what those in the western, Ukrainian media wanted to hear. To make matters worse, because of this, Ukrainian authorities deported me and banned me from the country, depriving me of the opportunity to, for example, go to Lvov, or Kiev, and find ‘pro-Ukraine’ people there to interview.

As it was, in Donbass, over three years, I only found a very few pro-Ukrainians to interview in Donbass. It’s not that they were there and ‘didn’t want to be interviewed’, etc, it’s that they weren’t there. And why? Well, when Ukrainian military have relentlessly targeted civilian areas of Donbass with shelling, as they did, and do, here, Lugansk, 13th August 2014, result of Ukrainain shelling:

When masses of civilians have been killed, lost relatives, been maimed by Ukrainian shelling … that will quickly eliminate any lingering ‘pro-Ukraine’ sentiment among the populace.

However, when pro-Ukrainians were there to be filmed, I always filmed them. Looking over my videos, I found these, from the end of April 2014, Donetsk, before war began:

If there had been more pro-Ukrainians to film, I’dve filmed them. However, I clearly couldn’t find enough pro-Ukrainians for people not to label me a ‘pro-Russian’. My reportage over 3 years in Donbass entirely reflected the reality of the situation there – the vast majority of people there support their republics, the mood is pro-Russian.

An interview from Donetsk in June of this year: 

The DPR Republic Day, in May: 

People on the war-torn perimeters of Donetsk, December 2015:

Flag Day in the DPR, 2015 –

It could go on, and on, and on… and it doesn’t make me ‘pro-Russian’ for reporting that, it makes me a journalist.

By any measure though, as above, I did indeed record a lot of pro-Ukrainian interviews for such a ‘Russian propagandist’.

Moving on From Donbass, And Staying with Donbass

I’ve been open about the fact, that the angle of my reportage for the next period is away from Donbass, and I won’t return to report there until after the World Cup 2018.

For the last few years, most of my work has been from Donbass up to the point where I feel that I’ve done as much as can, for the time being. I’d always planned to do projects connected to Russia in the run up to the World Cup 2018, and it’ll be that way. 
 
As for Donbass, there are excellent journalists reporting from there, in English – Patrick Lancaster of course, there’s Janus, and more – and I’ll do as much as possible to promote their work, and support Donbass in a humanitarian capacity. 
 
On my return to Donbass to report, I don’t plan to return to reportage from the frontlines – if there’s still war there, and of course I hope there won’t be. I’ve done that really a lot of times, had more close shaves than could ever really say. It’s time to call it a day on that, luck only lasts for so long. 
 
And I’ll look forward to my return to my Donbass, reporting from there later in 2018. There’s lots to come before that!