Google Maps on Donbass – Can it be Trusted?

What’s the first thing you do when you look for a place? Of course, Google Maps, the world’s leading most popular online map, not only that, the world’s most popular app, with 54% of smartphones having it installed at least once.

Yesterday I wrote about Denmark, and despite all, the first thing I did was go to Google Maps. The ‘despite all’ part, is the following – that I’ve serious questions about the impartiality of the internet’s most comprehensive web-mapping service. The other week, I went to do a search for a place in Lugansk, this, th centre of the city of Lugansk, Donbass (now, ok, Google Maps are not going to describe it as the Lugansk People’s Republic, that’s not up for discussion now)


Here, a closer look, and we can clearly see a ‘Monument of victims of ‘russian world’ terror’ marked – 

Clearly, Russian written as ‘russian’ as a mark of disrespect. But that’s an incidental, because this monument, and let’s have a look at the satellite imagery here, for which Google Maps is renowned –


And here is the monument itself, in the centre of Lugansk. But it is not a monument to anything connected with ‘Russian terror’ – it’s a monument to victims of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army – who fought with the Nazis in WWII. 

There are a few things to take into account here. A feature of Google Maps is indeed the ability to add, or name landmarks there. But is there really no limit? Could you just go to the Statue of Liberty and just name it as, well, take your pick… could you just go to Jerusalem, Palestine, etc….

More, I submitted a correction about this to Google a week ago, and they’ve done nothing about it yet. How long has it even been there? Clearly, providing accurate information here is not a priority for Google Maps – so the question is, in how many other places don’t they care about what’s on their maps? 

This is Google Maps, over 7000 employees, constantly investing millions in adding new features – soon they’ll be able to tell you when to get off the bus. And they are so uninterested in checking their maps not only for accuracy, but for that which is clearly grossly offensive….

As for the sheer, crass cynicism of the ‘pro-Ukrainian’, to call them that, who renamed this to attack Russia, without any thought not only for the victims of the UIA, but more for the hundreds killed in Lugansk itself by Ukrainian shelling of the city, in 2014…. well, from them, that’s probably to be expected.

But from Google Maps, we should either expect more, or be aware that when we look at Google Maps, we may be looking at the work of fine geographers and cartographers. Or it could just be some angry activist running amok….

18+ Donbass War: When Ukrainian Shelling Hit Lugansk, August 2014

This is a Donbass video I’m no longer able to show on YouTube, but which needs to be shown.

In August of 2014, Ukrainian forces had almost surrounded the city of Lugansk – held at that time, still held by the Lugansk People’s Republic forces. The Ukrainian military’s closest stronghold to the city was Lugansk airport, some 10km from city limits, and from there, they rained shelling down on the city of Lugansk throughout July, and August of 2014.

This shelling, which hit all over the city of Lugansk, caused mass civilian loss of life. Here is an 18+ video, from August 13th, 2014.

Why did they choose to do this? Ukrainian forces knew perfectly well they couldn’t take Lugansk by force. Or, they were unwilling to try. Their intention was to terrorise the people of Lugansk into surrendering. That didn’t happen, but the legacy of their campaign is some horrific stories. Go to Lugansk’s southern cemetery, you’ll find this gravestone:

This was a family of 3, the Knishes. On the 14th of July, they were all packed, and ready to leave Lugansk, to escape the daily shelling of the city by Ukrainian forces. In a cruel twist of fate, shelling hit them just as they were about to leave.

And there’s thousands of other tragic stories of the results of Ukrainian shelling of Lugansk, 2014. I was there, witnessed it with my own eyes. The memories, losses, pain, anger, is there to this day in Lugansk.

As a military operation by Ukraine, it was a complete failure. Fired up by the actions of Ukraine’s forces against their city, Lugansk People’s Republic forces drove Ukrainian forces from Lugansk aiport, and other positions nearby, at the start of September, 2014.

More on that to come, in this series, of facts, from the ground, explaining to you what really happened in Donbass.

Every Day Can’t be Three Years Ago… Remembering the Donbass War in 2014

From early August, I could write a post every day ‘3 years ago’…. 3 years ago it was the Lugansk blockade. August of 2014, Lugansk was surrounded by Ukrainian forces, shelling and death every day.

We would be in the admin building, it would hit, there’d be an order to take shelter. Then, it would abate, you’d run to the scene, but so much shelling, you had to choose where to run. One day, August 20th, 2014, I ran one way, to a church hit by shelling –

– volunteers ran the other way.

We convened after, compared notes. What did you see? My church up in flames. Them, a mother and daughter waiting for humanitarian aid when Ukrainian shelling had hit them. One of the volunteers had to take the wounded mother to safety, one of them get her daughter, and the other pick up her daughter’s leg, which had been blown off.

Marina was 7, she had been put into a coma. I went to see her mother Nataliya in hospital afterwards, and she cried that her daughter, who loved dancing, would never dance again.

But Marina never even emerged from coma, she died the next morning.

There are a lot of these kind of memories. And what happened must never be forgotten. But, as a person, of course, it’s difficult, emotionally, to think about them. I try to strike a balance between going forward, and also, so that these things are not forgotten.
3 years ago, the liberation of a lot of places in the LPR, I then head from Lugansk to Stakhanov, then to Donetsk. Motorola, Givi, Donetsk airport … a lot of adrenalin, but also a lot of shelling, a lot of death.
A lot of things which need to be remembered, but are hard to remember. Every day can’t be 3 years ago

A Graham Newsletter (#34) A Message from Donbass, and On to Russia!!

My last newsletter had me feeling a bit of pressure in, and from the UK: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/26/a-graham-newsletter-33-pressure-in-the-uk-ukraine-and-leaving-the-uk/

So, it was nice to be able to cool off a bit here in Donbass, and record this messsage for you:

For my countrymen in the UK, not only: Don’t Believe the UK Government Lies, come to Donbass

On the way to Donbass, I was delighted to finish filming of my documentary about the town of Belval, in Luxembourg, which I’m just finishing the edit for now.

I was happy to do an interview there with former West Ham legend, Sebastien Schemmel. And incidentally, something those in the BBC or wherever attacking me will never say, is that – did you know that a surprising amount of my work has nothing to do with Russia, or Donbass?

That said, of course a significant part of my work is from Donbass, Russia, and always will be – and I’ve written about why that is, here. And here, about covering all sides, in my reportage from Donbass – as well as moving onto a new project.

Here, a video from School 60 in Lugansk’s graduation ceremony:

Here, Yasinovataya’s machine engineering plant – 

To touch briefly on personal life, in my time in the LPR I’ve been pleased to announce my engagement to a beautiful young lady from Lugansk, Yulia, and to congratulate Patrick Lancaster on his own recent wedding!

3 1/2 years covering Donbass, and for a few reasons, it’s time to move on. What can be referred to as ‘low intensity’ warfare, goes on. There’s some shelling on the frontiers, some battle on the frontlines – and to be honest, with a few notable, tragic flare-ups, it’s been like that for over 2 years now.

Such news as there is from Donbass, is covered by journalists here, including Patrick Lancaster Graham Phillipsand others. I feel both that my contribution is more needed elsewhere, and also, I’m also in the mood for a new challenge. And there there is intense information war, there’s an opportunity to go and report the truth. Where’s the information war waging fiercest? Russia, and I’ve written of that here –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/08/11/world-cup-2018-information-war-against-russia-game-on/

And that’s my project for the next year, as the western world attacks Russia, to travel all over Russia, filming you the truth about how Russia really is, for a series called ‘Real Russia’. 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/08/11/my-project-for-the-next-year-russia/

It’s going to be a massive project, and you’ll hear more about it soon! As with all my work, it’ll be 100% crowdfunded, 100% independent.

This below isn’t a taster of that project, but, I have been getting in and about the minutae of Russian life, here, at the hot end of Russian bathhouse culture, for a series called War Gonzo –

For now, a new video from Donbass, as the Night Wolves pass through on their way to Crimea:

And my documentary from Luxembourg, Belval, will be up very soon!

If you wish to support my work, there’s always here – https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips 

And as ever, huge thanks for being with me!!!

My Recent Donbass Period of Work: 25 Key Moments

I recently completed a 2-month period of work in Donbass. There will be even more reportage to come from that, but I wanted to put together a ‘top 10’ of key moments, however so many there were, we’re at 25, and this just in English.

All my work is funded by your support, via crowdfunding, to be involved, click here. 

Huge thanks to all of you, who’ve supported my work. I’ll be doing a new video to thank you soon!

1. The completion, with Oleg Somov, of my film, Irina Gurtyak, a journalist’s story, now with full English subtitles, by Vitaly Chernichenko –

And presentation in Lugansk – 

2. Bringing you reportage from the frontiers, the places other journalists don’t venture!Graham – Special Reportage (#11) A Tour Through Donetskiy, LPR Frontier, After Ukrainian Shelling

One of my main points of focus, was bringing you as much English-language reportage as possible, to show you how things really there, in spoken English!

3. Ronald van Amerongen, the Dutchman in Donbass, speaks – 

4. An English-lanaguage interview with Donetsk residents, about how things really are in Donetsk!

I brought you unique reportage from the frontlines, and frontier settlements…

5. Graham in Donbass (#47) Going to the LPR Furthest Frontline Position Today

6. Graham – Special Reportage (#12) Trip to the Donbass Wartorn Village of Nikishino

7. Interview with a Russian Volunteer Fighter in Donbass, LPR (Eng subs)

And back to English-language interviews – 

8. English Interview from Lugansk – Miss Elegance, in Miss Lugansk People’s Republic

Back to the frontline – 

9. LPR Militia Fighters Talk about WWII Monument, by LPR Frontlines, Donbass

10. Graham in Donbass (#38) Donbass – LPR – Frontlines, and What Victory Day Means to the Militia

11. A couple of videos from a spectacular Victory Day, in Lugansk!!

12. And from an also spectacular Miss LPR contest, in Lugansk! Here, a Crimea tribute –

Here, interviews with 5 of the girls, with full English subs – 

13. Back to Donetsk, and a spectacular drone look as 1000 lanterns were released into the night sky to mark children killed in war, in Donbass.

On the theme of 1st June, International Protector of Children Day, I went to Gorlovka to speak to kids wounded in war, here, with English subtitles.

14. Gorlovka, Donbass Children Speak about Being Wounded by Ukrainian Shelling in War

15. Interview with Liza, 3, wounded by Ukrainian shelling, her mother killed on spot.

Knowing it was a hot-zone, I wanted to go to report from Kominternovo –

16. Driving over 100km in the Donetsk People’s Republic, from Donetsk to Kominternovo (frontier)

17. An Introduction Tour to the DPR Frontier Village of Kominternovo

18. 60 Seconds in the DPR Village of Kominternovo, under Ukrainian shelling



Night and Morning in the Village of Kominternovo, Donbass, DPR

19. Kominternovo man: “Shelling (by Ukrainian forces) started suddenly, without any provocation”

Kominternovo: “The OSCE said ‘everyone knows that Poroshenko is killing his own people'”

Showing you Donbass at work, here, Lugansk!

20. Graham – Special Reportage (#14) My Day in a Lugansk Bread Factory

A French delegation visiting Donbass!

21. French Delegation in the Donetsk People’s Republic (#1) Visit to a Donetsk Hospital

Debunking Ukrainian misinformation

22. Donetsk People’s Republic Reaction to claims by Ukraine’s Mariana Betsa

Bringing you breaking news reports of terrorist attacks in Lugansk –

23. Lugansk, Explosion Goes off in City Centre Today, 1 Killed, 5 Wounded

17:00 – Aftermath of 2nd Explosion in Lugansk, Donbass Today

Showing you real videos of how life really is in Donbass:

24. Last School Bell for Junior Class in Lugansk, Lugansk People’s Republic, School 60

Lugansk, The Final Bell for Sixth Formers, School 60, 60 Minutes Uncut

And with your help, helping children there!!

25. Lutugino Children’s Home, Donbass: My Most Recent Trip, How you Can Help

This, just a selection, and more coming soon. Once again, huge thanks for all your help, and support!

Terrorist Attacks Strike Lugansk Today – Full Details

At 15.30 today, in central Lugansk, Donbass, LPR by one of the main administrative buildings, an explosive device concealed in an urn on the street, outside a shop, went off. It killed a female member of the Lugansk People’s Republic forces, a medic, sitting on a bench on the popular central thoroughfare, and wounded 5, including civilians. Video here

At around 17:00, around 50 metres from the first explosion, another explosion went off, wounding a reported 2 civilians, and causing this damage to cars –

There has been a strong reaponse to this. Head of the LPR, Igor Plotnitsky, issued a statement condemning the ‘terrorist attacks perpetrated near a popular recreation area for civilians of the LPR, and children’. He added that those responsible ‘would be found and punished’.

All large-scale events planned for tomorrow in Lugansk, many to mark the day of the family, have been cancelled.  The LPR advised citizens to stay indoors if possible, avoid congregating in groups, and report anything suspicious immediately.

More details to follow.