Kosovo – Western-Approved Separatism, DPR and LPR – Non-Approved…

It was a week in which the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics both pulled off huge victory days, huge concerts on their republic days, mass crowds, and all without a hitch. Here, the concert in Donetsk for DPR Republic Day –

So, you might have thought that these republics managing that despite both still being on a war footing, with the Donetsk area in particular still under regular Ukrainian shelling, may have managed a word of two of appreciation of their achievements?

Well, of course, not a bit of it. All the western press did was either ignore the celebrations – the largest yet in the republics, formed after Ukraine’s Euromaidan placed an unelected, far-right government in power in 2014 – or go negative, focusing on the military vehicles on display and how that supposedly represented a breach of the Minsk agreement.

It may almost give one the idea that the west, and western media don’t like ‘separatism’. Yet, that’s clearly not the case. In 1999, western governments, here the UK’s Tony Blair, used a civil war in the Kosovo region of Serbia, as an excuse to launch a NATO attack on all Serbia, and create Kosovo as an independent state, for Kosovo Albanians.

The history of Kosovo is long, complicated, bloody, and interpretations differ vastly, However, as a part of Serbia, it has both a deep-rooted and symbolic significance to the country, with Serbian Orthodox monasteries there dating back to the 12th century. As for the civil war, which NATO used as cause to intervene there in 1999, to brutal effect, there were wrongs being committed there by both sides.

Yet, NATO stepped in against the military of a sovereign state, Yugoslavia, at that time, and on the side of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army, an organisation the USA themselves declared a terrorist organisation, after a series of terrorist attacks, in 1998, noting further “We would be remiss to dismiss allegations that between 30 and 50 percent of the KLA’s money comes from drugs.”

What happened after, is widely known, NATO launched an attack against Serbia which, while it may have started by targeting military objects, soon started targeting civilian areas, to deadly result – over 2000 civilians killed, including 88 children. And Kosovo was created as a state separate from Serbia.

Now, although Kosovo is only a partially-recognised state, 111 of 193 UN members, it’s one the western media actively, enthusiastically endorses. Just have a look at some of the headlines –

Kosovo: what to see in Europe’s newest country – Telegraph

How Kosovo is producing the best female pop stars

Rita Ora’s new music to pay tribute to her native Kosovo – Mirror Online

The Guardian writes promo-articles about Kosovo.

And Rita Ora, UK pop star who was born there, but left when she was one so clearly doesn’t remember it for herself, releases an epic, pumped-up, dream-espousing song in Kosovo’s honour, given mass PR across the western media

So, it’s clear, the west can, and does, support separatism, but only its own separatism. Sadly for the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, still under attack by Ukraine’s west-backed forces, their separatism wasn’t west-endorsed, so no sexy videos, fairytale headlines, just constant shelling by Ukrainian forces, and attacks by western media.

New English Reportage from Donbass (#2) 360 Pervomaisk, Lugansk School, Alexander Hug

The latest in the series looking at my recent, English-language  video reportage from Donbass. Graham Phillips

A 360 degree look at a wrecked apartment building in the town of Pervomaisk (you can spin the camera yourself) –

In conversation with pupils at a Lugansk school –

An interview with Alexander Hug, of the OSCE –

New English Reportage from Donbass (#1) Students, Weapons, Defectors

The first in a series bringing together my recent English-language Donbass reportage. Graham Phillips

Huge thanks for English subtitles to Sergey Yermolayev, and Anastasia Urtica. 

All my reportage is funded by crowdfunding. Huge thanks to everyone involved! To make a donation to my work, click here. 

The end of November saw me at a scene, asking why the OSCE weren’t working –

Interviewing an LPR fighter on the frontlines –

A student talent show in Lugansk –

Into December, and it’s special reportage from an LPR factory, where they make their own weapons, then test them –

And, in Lugansk, a recent press conference with a former Ukrainian fighter, crossed over to the Lugansk People’s Republic side –

Updates from the DLPR (#8) Leaving and Returning to the LPR, and the difference…

I left the Lugansk People’s Republic a couple of weeks ago, to go to report from the DPR for a period. The LPR I left was at that time, almost entirely quiet, in terms of war. Events were of a more positive nature, this flashmob in Pervomaisk –

And here, Lugansk schoolchildren sing ‘Imagine’ to me!

Returning to Lugansk – with an evacuation taking place from a frontline village, and the reason clear in this video report, huge thanks to Sergey Yermolayev for English subtitles here –

Back in Lugansk, it was immediately thrust into reporting of a different kind, as Ukrainian forces had fired 7 times into villages by the perimeter. I go there to report on it, and ask why the OSCE are there, but don’t seem to be doing anything –

Here’s a look at the frontline, and the distance between sides –

And here, with full English subs, again thanks to Sergey Yermolayev, an exclusive English-language interview from the LPR frontlines –

We go on here, in the LPR for now, with more reportage to come, but let’s hope for a return to the positive, rather than the latest.

Your Opportunity to Help Donbass

I’d like to draw your attention to 2 appeals. Firstly, I know many of you have seen my film about a Donass opolchen, a hero, killed in action – Aramis. 

Here is the appeal, which would mean the world to his family, and more, to raise funds for a headstone for Aramis –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-grave-fit-for-a-hero/x/12236308#/

And here’s your opportunity to become a friend to a children’s home in Donbass, and make a meaningful difference to the lives of over 200 children there –

You can contact the school directly here –

internat.lutugino@yandex.ru
shkola2@luga.net.ua

Huge thanks for helping!

Graham

Updates from the DLPR (#3) A Visit to a Lugansk ‘Gulag’ (as the BBC said).

A recent BBC article blazed

Human rights activists in eastern Ukraine say they have evidence that slave labour camps reminiscent of Soviet gulags are operating in rebel-controlled areas. A newly published report alleges that 5,000 people in the self-declared Luhansk People’s Republic are held in solitary confinement, beaten, starved or tortured if they refuse to carry out unpaid work

However, the BBC had made a few fundamental ‘mistakes’ here –

  • They’d never once visited the prison in question they wrote so much about
  • They took an interview from a blatantly ‘pro-Ukrainian’ former inmate, and took his word about the terms of his detention as gospel
  • They took the word of a ‘Human Rights Group’ based in Kiev, with clear links to the Kiev government as gospel
  • There’s no evidence, videos, photos, to back up the extremely extreme claims that they make

In my new special reportage from Lugansk, now with full English subtitles, I go to visit the prison the BBC described as a ‘gulag’ here –

Updates from DLPR(#2) Primaries, and Prison ‘slave labour camps’

Second in the series of updates from the DLPR about how things really are here – all my work is totally independent, funded by crowdfunding – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3-months-independent-objective-donbass-journalism#/https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3-months-independent-objective-donbass-journalism#/

The Lugansk, LPR, primaries were held on Sunday, October 2nd. 80 polling stations in Lugansk were open, from 08.00 to 20.00. Voting was in Lugansk, and the adjacent villages of Jubilee and Aleksandrovsk. Some photos here – by Polish photographer David Hudziec –

The preceeding week saw around 30 international observers in the city, given daily excursions around museums, and sights of the Lugansk People’s Republic. These individuals were not from an organisation, and in fact the OSCE upon being asked at a press conference last week why they would not be observing the primaries, replied that the OSCE did not do that.

So it was, volunteers from across the world – France, Italy, Finland, Palestine, Israel, USA, Poland, and India, were put up by the Lugansk People’s Republic, but received no financial recompense, for taking part in an active programme, culminating in observing the primaries. Here are some of my interviews with them (all English) –

Sana, the translator – 

Inna, from Israel, here – 

Observers from Finland and Georgia here – 

Poland here – 

And, on the day itself? The total turnout was reported as 61,323 – high, given that only 34,450 were on the preliminary list to vote. Requirement to vote was a passport, local address, and those not on the list this time, were added to the database. Incidentally, Lugansk pre-war had a population of over 400,000, what it is now is open to estimate. LPR sources will claim it’s near back to pre-war levels, a more realistic assessment could be closer to 300,000.

I filmed unedited footage of the 4 polling stations I visited, the first of which I put up in English, from early in the morning –

I filmed several more polling station videos, in Russian, if there’s a strong desire, I can add English subtitles, but I do only currently have a team of 2 volunteer subtitlers, so have to select what can be done. If you’d like to join my team, please email me at – gwplondon@gmail.com

Otherwise, what to say, the polling stations were as polling stations should be, everything was in order, ordered, people who voted knew who and what they were voting for. The main vote, for the mayor of Lugansk, was comfortably won by incumbent Manolis Pilavov, with 86%, which matched what people were saying at the polls. As for Pilavov (pictured), he’s a likeable, moderate, popular city head, widely perceived to have done a good job in his 2 years at the helm, tipped to play a big part in the LPR going forward.

pilavov

Back to the primaries, the count, again, organised, ordered, everything you would expect of an election count done to standard –


On from the primaries, and it was a calm week in Lugansk. The ‘main news’, as it were, actually came a long way from Lugansk, from a journalist who’s never even been here, Patrick Evans – actually a former colleague of mine from Kiev. Patrick, dutifully rewriting a patently pro-Kiev ‘humanitarian group’ ‘s report, passed on that the prisons in the LPR (and DPR) are like ‘slave labour camps‘.

That’s something that, being here myself, I’ll be looking into soon. For now, that’s all for this latest update, thanks for being with me!