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.
Of course, it’s a different world now, a different Ukraine. But even after covering events like this, where Ukraine had shelled civilians in Donbass –
And many, sadly, similar instances, I remind myself that these are people who claim to represent Ukraine, but are not Ukraine. Ukraine in the prism of those ‘ambassadors’ exists in a monstrified, maniacal form of its earlier self. A country of which a small minority overthrew a democratic government in early 2014, then set about attacking anyone who didn’t accept their actions. Whether that be shelling civilians of Donbass, who rejected their version of Ukraine, or doing as much mischief in Crimea as they are able to.
But, from Crimea, where I write this, I’ve met many decent, nice Ukrainians, this year –
However, sadly, they are not the ones running the show in Ukraine at the moment. And whether they even represent the majority of Ukrainians anymore, is a moot point, with many in Ukraine having full-scale swallowed their own propaganda, that ‘everything is Russia’s fault‘, they must ‘hate Russia‘, ‘Putin is to blame‘ for all their own problems, and so on. Don’t just take my word for it, look at these Ukrainian fans, at Euro 2016 –
Of course, Poroshenko’s favourite refrain, and one which plays particularly well to a home crowd struggling with a country beset with problems only becoming worse, is that Russia is the root of all Ukraine’s problems. Poroshenko’s Twitter is awash with the kind of apropos of nothing abuse, vitriol directed at Russia of the kind one may more commonly associate with a one of the football fans in the above video – this just a sampling –
And this, would have been all Poroshenko’s christmases(which he wants tomove the date of, by the way – the existing January 7th date ‘too Russian’), coming at once. The opportunities and possibilities presented by Ukrainian qualification for the World Cup 2018, would have been simply mind-blowing. Boycott? Ok, that’s one. Or what about go to Russia, and take every opportunity with the eyes of the world on Russia, to create scandal, drag politics into sport, cause scenes, conflict, agitation, provocation, make the football a sideshow to the Poroshenko show, with him using the World Cup as a platform to boost his bid for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections. Pause for a moment, just imagine the opportunity afforded by a World Cup to do what one will, at one’s will, in the full knowledge a sympathetic global media will be cheering you on….
But, it wasn’t to be. 2 decent, but defendable goals by Andrej Kramarić, and Ukraine won’t play any part of 2018’s World Cup, apart from the inevitable trolling and attempts to capitalise on the attention, now reflected, anyway. But, that will meet with limited success. Sore losers. Ghosts at the feast. They had a winnable match against a Croatia side on a slump, with a new coach, in their own backyard, and they turned a performance so limp as to suggest some of the players themselves didn’t much fancy being a part of the Poroshenko spectacle of Ukraine at the 2018 World Cup.
Ukraine blew it. For all the good Ukrainians who support their national team, it’s bad news. For all the other Ukrainians who couldn’t wait to go to Russia, and delight in causing as many problems as they can with the ‘get out of jail card’ of knowing what an image a Russian police officer arresting a Ukrainian would present, no matter what they’d done, it’s worse news. For Poroshenko, it’s a major blow, suddenly the world stage Russia 2018 presents has no place for him to go and, figuratively of course, piss all over it.
For fans of football, it’s truly excellent news. It means we can look forward to a World Cup 2018 of sport, of high-octane clashes between the world’s best players, at some of the world’s best stadiums, devoid of all the drama that would have cast black clouds over proceedings. There will be other issues, and scandals, of course there will. But, none to hold a candle to what Ukraine was going to unleash.
It’s a reminder that in sport, there is an innate fairness. Invariably, the best team wins. Ukraine’s footballers were taken apart on their own turf last night. The trojan horse that Ukraine’s footballers would have brought to Russia 2018 didn’t get over the last hurdle. A victory for Croatia in Kiev, a victory for football fans all over the world. A rare instance where Ukraine must actually admit their own failings have nothing to do with a Russia on which they will look on in 2018, but with few looking back at them.
On a purely footballing level, as a football fan, from me – it’s a like!!
On Sunday 1st October, violence in Catalonia by the Spanish police, aimed at crushing the independence referendum of that day which delivered a 90% ‘yes’ vote, resulted in around 900 injured. It resulted in a tidal wave of outrage, condemnation, and more – from the media, politicians, commentators, groups, Joey Barton – a sampling of that here –
So the west can certainly condemn when it wants to. But the condemnation, and attention, in the case of Catalonia, from one day of beating, easily surpassed that directed at Donbass, for over 3 years of war there, and ongoing shelling of civilian areas, by Ukrainian forces.
In August of 2014, Ukrainian forces destroyed a truck carrying refugees fleeing from the war, killing at least 17 – mostly women and children –
However, they only did this because one of their own members was killed. And they let Ukraine off the hook with the classic get out – ‘The rebels and the government blamed each other for the shelling.’
But look at January 2015, when shelling hit the city of Mariupol, in Donbass, killing arond 30 civilians. The OSCE were quick, not only to condemn:
In February of this year, in a warzone, the OSCE – based in Kiev, and generally regarded as doing surveillance for Ukraine, pitched up near a Donbass block-post and attempted to fly their drone, without permission. They were told not to do that, as you can imagine in pretty strong terms, by DPR members.
So, we can see, the west can condemn when it wants to. It can even condemn in Donbass. However, it only does so when one of their own is affected, or they can blame the ‘pro-Russian rebels’ for something.
As for Boris, no condemnation from him, for Catalonia, and of course not for Donbass. And due to the actions of Boris, there are more ‘dead bodies to clear away’, there.
However, no condemnation from the west for any of that.
A few words about the complications of filming in Donbass, early 2014. I made hundreds, really hundreds of videos from there, which were seen all over the world, on the news, and more, of people saying they didn’t want Ukraine, wanted a referendum, wanted the Donetsk, Lugansk People’s Republic, and more.
Had a referendum, voted for the DPR, LPR. No one in the west listened, actually they supported Ukraine against them.
Then, in July of 2014, Ukrainian forces took a lot of these towns and cities – Mariupol, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and set about a campaign of ‘cleansing’ of separatists. People were beaten, people disappeared.
I removed all the videos I’d made which may have put people still there in a position of danger. But, my videos had already been put everywhere, I wrote to people asking them to remove them. And of course, not only my videos – there were many, many videos made at this time, and most still online.
A video which one month tells the world the truth, the next month can put their life in danger. A really horrible situation.
This voter tells me: ‘We want to live apart from Ukraine’
This man tells me ‘People want freedom, it’s a cry of the soul’
These people declare ‘We are against the Kiev government!’
This man tells me he ‘hates the Ukrainian flag’ –
What happened after? The west simply dismissed the referendum. Ukrainian forces seized Mariupol, and other towns and cities in Donbass. And those they didn’t seize, they’ve been shelling for over 3 years, with mass loss of life. Here, Lugansk, August 2014, after Ukrainian shelling:
Here, Donetsk, January 2015 after Ukrainian shelling:
As you all know, I won’t be reporting on Donbass so much in the coming period. I’ll be completely honest with you here, and say that falling views, and resonance of reportage, led me to the view that my reporting wasn’t, at this moment in time, making a real difference there, wasn’t helping people there.
And, in Donbass, I always considered that my role as a journalist, that by reporting the truth from there, people knowing that, that making a difference, it helped people.
However, for now, clearly, there are other, better ways to help people. I’ll be in Donbass soon, and not only continuing to help children’s homes there. but expanding the help to include several children’s homes (including here, Lutugino).
I’m not collecting money for this, but someone – Sean Taylor – has been insisent in sending funds, specifying for children’s homes – and I’ll soon be handing all that over, in full.
I’ve actually not collected money for any of this help, it’s all been donated by people – clothes, toys, educational items for children – from all over Russia. I’m going to keep things on a ‘non-money’ basis, because that comes with its own set of particulars.
However, I’m keen to expand the collection of clothes, toys, educational items for children’s homes in Donbass, and even have premises near Donbass, in Russia, in which to store them.
If you can be a part of this, let me know – email@example.com