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

Ukrainian Diversionary Group Attack in the Lugansk People’s Republic, (18+)

The Lugansk People’s Republic report today: 

A diversionary group from the Special Operations Force (SSO) of the Ukrainian military penetrated into the territory of the LPR on June 24 in the area of ​​the T-1303 highway Lugansk-Lisichansk, known as Bakhmutka, and attacked a group of servicemen from one of the logistics support units of the people’s militia. As a result of the incident, two servicemen of the People’s Militia were killed, four captured by the Kiev forces.

 

The investigation conducated  with the involvement of forensic experts and officers of the Prosecutor’s Office revealed a number of details of the capture of servicemen of the People’s Militia of the Lugansk People’s Republic:

– On June 26, the Stakhanov branch of the forensic medical examination carried out a study of the bodies of two dead servicemen. The following bodily injuries were found during the examination of the body of one of the dead LPR soldiers: multiple bruises and abrasions of the head, torso and limbs, fractures of the bones of the facial skeleton, fracture of the left shoulder, three stab wounds to the chest, twelve bullet wounds to the torso and limbs, said forensic expert Dmitry Malovichko.

Upon examination of the body of the second victim, forensic experts also established a series of injuries: bodily injuries in the form of multiple bruises and abrasions of the head, the torso and limbs, fracture of the ribs on both sides, bullet bullet wound to the abdomen and chest, and gunshot bullet wounds in the head region.

“All the injuries are intravital, these men were repeatedly tortured while injuring them,” Malovichko said. Forensic medical expert Denis Mosin noted that the LPR soldiers who were captured by Ukrainian punitive forces were brutally murdered.

Head of the Investigative Department of the Office for Supervision of Compliance with Laws in the Military Sphere of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Lugansk People’s Republic, counselor of justice Leonid Tkachenko stressed that when taking military servicemen, certain physical methods of influence were applied to them, as evidenced by the situation from the scene and the numerous traces of blood on clothing.

– After the delivery of servicemen to Severodonetsk they were tortured and tortured to give some kind of information that interests the Ukrainian side, – Leonid Tkachenko summarised.

According to the representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office, such actions clearly indicate that the Ukrainian side does not observe the norms of international law, in particular, in the field of human rights. Also, the Ukrainian side grossly violated the rules of warfare, which are established by the rule of International Law.

The above facts will be investigated in the framework of a criminal investigation, initiated by the use of means and methods of warfare prohibited by the international treaties, by representatives of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, volunteer battalions and mercenaries acting on the side of Ukraine, and their armed aggression against the civilian population of the people of the Republic, and on the fact of genocide against the inhabitants of the Lugansk People’s Republic.

A Headstone for Aramis

Last year, some of you may recall, I ran a campaign to raise funds for a headstone for the hero of my film, Aramis

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

I’m very happy to say that the monument was put in place here in Lugansk this Saturday, and as you can see, it means a huge deal to his family – parents, brother, daughter and wife – who now serves in the militia – here.

A massive thanks to all of you who made this possible!

Aramis 1Aramis 2Aramis 3Aramis 4Aramis 5Aramis 6Aramis 7Aramis 8Aramis 9Aramis 10Aramis 11Aramis 12Aramis 14Aramis 15Aramis 16Aramis 17Aramis 19Aramis 20Aramis 21Aramis 23Aramis 24Aramis 25Aramis 29Aramis 30Aramis 33Aramis 34