Arriving in Donetsk, 3 Years Ago Today….

3 years ago today, I was arriving in Donetsk, for ‘one week’s work’, with the channel RT, in a bit of a panic at that time, as they couldn’t get their own correspondents into Donbass, calling me in Odessa, where I lived at the time, simply saying ‘get to Donetsk as soon as you can!!‘. I duly drove all night –

After a couple of days, RT managed to get their own correspondents in, and sent me down to Lugansk to see out the remainder of my contract. Then, on 12th April, I heard early on about something happening in nearby Slavyansk, called RT. The producer who answered first said ‘Where’s that?‘ Then ‘Graham, your contract’s almost up, just stay a couple days more in Lugansk‘. I replied that I was going to Slavyansk with or without them.

And there we have it. 

My UK Reportage: A Wrap-up!

As  prepare to leave – it’s been an enormously busy last 2 months in the UK, working on the edits of documentary projects, dozens of articles here on the Truth Speaker, and video reportage. There will be one more report to come from the UK, part 2 of this special reportage on the recent terrorist attack in London –

To recap, here was January when I visited the UK parliament to ask at a UK/Ukraine event if they would be mentioning Ukrainian shelling civilian areas of Donbass:

The introduction to my documentary about the murder of Barry Pring

My coverage of the anti-Trump protests in London at the start of February – 

A few days later, and I try to go to a Ukrainian event in London –

And here, I succeed in getting into a Ukrainian propaganda event at the LSE! 

The end of February here, and I visit the Ukrainain Embassy in London – 

March, and a look at what Women’s Day means in London!

Then, my day as a DPR tourist in London!

Masses of reportage from the March for Europe on March 25th –

And even a trip to Scotland to bring you the reality there of how people feel about a proposed new referendum!

It’s overall achieved hundreds of thousands of views, on my channel alone, coverage in mass media – and much more! I’m a completely crowdfunded journalist, and none of this would have been possible without your support. To be involved, click here!

Thanks again, and on we go!!

 

War, and Information War

Graham Phillips

I’ve been covering the situation in Donbass for 3 years now, and on December 22nd, returned from covering war in the trenches by Debaltsevo to find that those sitting thousands of kilometres away in cases, from their laptops, had decided to launch the latest fusilade of the information war at me.

It started with Bild journalist Julian Röpcke. a long-time critic of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, quickly coming out with the tweet that I’d ‘exposed positions of the Russian army‘, as he referred to them. I’d add that I found out about this through the back door, as despite limited interaction ever, Julian long ago blocked me from following his tweets, for some reason.

At least Julian, who, reading his tweets, seems to have a pathological hatred for Russia, admitted in a subsequent tweet, the intention behind this – to try to cause problems for me.

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This is a reference to the Russian state-owned tv channel Zvezda having done a story, simply stating facts, that Ropcke had claimed I’d ‘revealed positions’. There’s no indication that this represents any such sentiments, from the ‘Russian military’, however I’d add that the article was also written without any attempt to defend me, and nor do I expect any special treatment from the Russian, or any, media.

Graham4As for Julian, I’m not sure what war he thinks he’s actually reporting on here. He’s certainly not been to Donbass for a long time, and never covered conflict here. But, from a desk at Bild in Berlin, he’s more than happy to, deceitfully, malevolently, attempt to cause problems for myself, a journalist who has, without wishing to big-up oneself, put his life on the line for years, even wounded doing so, to bring the truth out of Donbass, from Donbass.

But, unless he thinks he’s covering World War II, Julian would have known that, in 2016, modern warfare, positions can’t be ‘exposed’. Drones fly over positions all the time, there was a drone flying in this piece even, these positions, by Debaltsevo, have been in much the same place for almost 2 years now. Each side knows to within a few inches the position of the other.

However, having myself filmed on the frontline what must be almost 100 times now (this from May 2014), in Donbass, I still take my responsibilities seriously. I showed the commander in charge of this unit the footage of Ukrainian shelling pounding by Donbass militia positions (which Julian has imaginatively called ‘RU army’, despite all of the men I interviewed there being from Donbass). He gave the green-light to include the shots, from positions, of Ukrainian shelling hitting. And that was that.

But that wasn’t that for those who, from thousands of kilometres away, would love to cause problems for me in Donbass. Just yesterday, Aric Toler, of Bellingcat, began repeating these claims on Twitter.

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Again, I found out about this through the back door, as, once more, despite limited interaction, Toler has blocked me from reading his Tweets.

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This linked to an article on Medium, authored by the ever anti-Russian Atlantic Council’s DFR lab, which fleshed out earlier claims, and added information provided by a tweet from a long-dormant Twitter, never active account that one of the militia members I’d filmed, Rumin, had been ‘wounded‘ that night after a ‘Ukrainian attack‘.

Medium have deliberately chosen to misinterpret my replies to this, completely unsubstantiated tweet, linked to a member of Ukraine’s ‘Tornado’ unit. My replies were –

1. Никакой ‘Румын’ не был на место.

No ‘Rumin’ whatsoever was there. (I used hyphens, to avoid confusion,as his name literally translates as ‘Romanian’ in Russian)

2. Что ополченец ‘Румын’ ‘был ранен там’. Просто бред – такой человек не был вообще.

That militia member ‘Rumin’ ‘was wounded there’. Just nonsnese – this person simply wasn’t (wounded) at all. 

And those replies were exactly what I knew as fact. That ‘Rumin’ was not at the position we’d filmed at – as we were leaving, he was soon to change positions, and return to base, and when I met up with Korshun, who’d taken us to positions, a couple of days later he informed me that everyone we’d filmed was present, and correct.

Even the Medium article had to, reluctantly, conclude that there was no evidence my videos had helped the Ukrainian military, and absolutely no evidence anyone had been wounded because of them.

However, this didn’t stop Eliot Higgins, of Bellingcat, tweeting out ‘did @GrahamWP_UK get a separatist killed?’….

Again, Eliot has blocked me from following him, so while he added my tag, to make it look like he was tweeting at me, I had to go through the back door to find it, and he won’t see my reply unless he does the same.

I’ll add a few words about the Ukrainian reaction. Due to my reporting the war in Donbass from a different side to the almost universally Ukraine-friendly, anti-Russian western media, as in that I’ve been in Donbass, and reported what I’ve seen here, also due to my Graham Donbass workworking methods being, at times, unconventional, Ukrainian media have zoned in on me as a hate figure, and their tactics alternate between creating fictitious claims about me, and some imagined connection to Russia, accusing me of all sorts of things, and, a favourite, attempting to cause problems for me.

Without any evidence whatsoever to back up these claims, Ukrainian media have reported any number of ‘heroic victories’ at this position, with the reported loss of all I filmed etc etc.

What’s the purpose of all of this? It’s one of the oldest tactics of information war – you can’t say you hate your ‘enemy’, as it shows weakness, so say you like him, and more, say he has helped you, to attempt to cause problems for him. What’s the ultimate purpose of it all? To stop his work.

julian-roepckeBack to Ropke (pictured), Toler, and Higgins, and what’s their purpose? Also to stop my work, yet more. In the case of Toler, and Higgins, they are trying to push their brand of ‘open source journalism‘ on the world, meaning they can earn large sums of money sitting at laptops, analysing Google Maps etc, telling the world it’s journalism. I’m here on the scene, telling you that’s not journalism.

No question, that Higgins and myself have also had frequent exchanges, disagreements online. However, I would always draw a line, and would never attempt to put someone’s life in danger. By fabricating the claim that a ‘separatist‘ was ‘killed‘ because of my reportage, Higgins is attempting to do just that. It’s totally untrue, entirely malicious.

In actuality, in the immediate aftermath of that video, fighting calmed down by the Svetlodarsk Bulge, and remains, relatively, calm to this day, again, even Medium had to report this. 

And, in response to requests that I ‘just go back there and film it all again to prove it’s ok‘. There were several fighters on the scene that day, all of them on rotation, changing positions, now on leave for holiday even. Unless I could go back, and film all of them, the one I couldn’t film would be publicly buried all over Ukrainian media, and beyond. And, even if I could, there would be something else: ‘Graham Phillips confirms positions of ‘separatists’ ‘, and it starts over again. I say this, to those making claims: show me some evidence, and I’ll react, but I don’t go chasing around trying to disprove claims without any evidence to back them up.

One side of war, is war, another is information war. However I’d add in the case of Higgins, et al, they’ve decided to make it a particularly dirty information war.

Eliot Higgins BellingcatFor me, it doesn’t affect what I do, other than having to write an article like this to explain the real situation. I believe in real journalism, from the scene, and reporting the truth. Why wasn’t the attention on Ukrainian forces blatantly violating Minsk, by using heavy artillery? Because that’s not convenient for Higgins (pictured), Toler etc – rather they use this as a distraction, with the bonus of their vendetta against myself.

I go forward, focus on work, reporting things as they are, as always, and don’t get embroiled in trying to cause ill for those ‘on the other side’ of this, nor have their attempts succeeded here. However, that’s not for a want of their trying. They are simply immoral men, doing a dirty job.

Where I’ve Been for the Last 2 Months, and What Next…

Graham Phillips

I left Donetsk almost 2 months ago and I know that, since then, a lot of my tweets etc have been in Russian, so for those of you who haven’t read those, here’s a quick wrap-up of these past 2 months.

1AramisI initially spent a couple of weeks in Russia with my parents, on holiday, spending time in Moscow then St Petersburg. Then, I sat for a month in St Petersburg and, with Oleg Somov, finished my first film, Aramis. I’m really looking forward to showing this film in London when I return – there’ll be an English version, and giving the film a full online release after that.

Recently, I’ve been filming reportage in St Petersburg. Apologies if I haven’t added English subs to these, if there’s sufficient interest I’ll do that – they’ve been on themes perhaps of particular interest to a Russian audience, though I’d hope wider, of course.

A piece about the wall in St Petersburg dedicated to famous Russian actor Sergey Bodrov (who incidentally starred in a film with Anna Friel) –

Women’s Day on March 8th –

Yuri Gagarin’s Birthday –

I’ve also brought you pieces from Crimea in this time, as it’s 2 years since their reunification with Russia there – and I’ll be making unique English-language Crimea reports from Crimea – a unique report from Ukraine-controlled territory of Donbass – with at least one more to come very soon. Now, I’m preparing for a return to active reporting, and will put emphasis on delivering reportage in English at the first moment possible, as I head for a special reportage trip to the Baltics.

Aramis the Film, by Graham Phillips – Press Release

 

1AramisI’m very pleased to announce the upcoming premiere, in St Petersburg, of my first film, Aramis, and when I return to London I’ll be arranging a special viewing in my home city.

In August of 2014, I met a remarkable man, while I was filming in Lugansk at the time of the Lugansk blockade. A member of the people’s militia. A parachutist, a furniture maker turned frontline fighter, 34-year-old Denis Somov (call-sign Aramis) was really quite remarkable.

More, he decided not only to be a fighter, joining up with his brother after Ukraine’s bombardment of his home city compelled him to take arms, he also took about filming as much of his experience as possible. War was all new to Aramis filmingDenis, and with his basic, compact camera, he captured a daily record both of how it was to be a fighter in the people’s militia, as the Ukrainian blockade was broken, and a wave of new territory taken, and a period in history otherwise hardly chronicled – a dearth of, at least western, journalists covering this period has meant its realities remain largely unknown to the wider world.

Aramis was killed in action in the operation to take Debaltsevo, sustaining life-ending wounds in open conflict on February 11th, 2015. He left a great deal behind him – a vast archive of video material, his daughters, wife, brother, comrades-in-arms.

The film Aramis – Donbass Musketeer‘ is the story of Aramis. It’s also the story of how the blockade of Lugansk in 2014 was beaten. It’s the story of an amazing Aramis Parentsman, of many amazing individuals, the story of how an unexpected war made a man take arms against what had been his country, and of how life has gone on in the aftermath of the death of Aramis.

I will look forward to meeting you at the film’s showing in London, details to be confirmed.

Effects and production on the film by Aramis’ brother, Oleg Somov.

Results of Your Patreon Support over the last Month (#2)

 

In the last month and a bit, I’ve made near 100 videos from here in Donbass. I’ve worked hard to get either English subtitles on the most relevant ones, or record in English, to bring the facts as they are to as many people as possible.

Your support on Patreon has been a part of all of that. And here’s my new video for Patreon, from Lugansk airport –

Everything I do is independent journalism, funded by you. And you’ve all played a part getting the truth out there, penetrating the wall of western propaganda.

The monthly round-ups focus on English-language journalism, as Patreon is orientated towards that. Of course, much of my content is in Russian, but I’m always working – with particular thanks to Anna and Sergey, to add English subtitles on as much as possible, record as much as possible in English.

A huge thanks to those already a part of it, and those thinking of being a part. My Patreon page here.

Special reportage from Lugansk, with unique drone footage, as city residents get ready to see in the new year, and look back on 2015 –

An exclusive, English language documentary report, on the story of Lugansk airport, with the first ever drone footage from there –

Something quite unique – full English subs on head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakarchenko’s press conference, soon after the event, including much vital information –

English subtitles on a revealing interview with Donbass schoolchildren, asking if they wanted to study the Ukrainian language –

Exclusive, unique drone footage over the war-torn town of Pervomaisk

English subs, as Donetsk residents reveal a crumbling ceasefire ‘the shelling is getting closer all the time’ –

Shocking footage from near Lugansk, and a reminder of the atrocities of 2014, as I return to the scene of a terrible tragedy –

English subs on a documentary of the remarkable story of Lilya Nikon, amputee shelling victim, as she walks for the first time again on camera.

English subs on this, a fascinating tour round Lugansk’s Museum of History and Culture –

English subs on a revealing interview with local residents of Gorlovka, as they express their attitudes towards Ukraine and Ukrainians –

This is just a sampling, and thanks to my supporters on Patreon – there’s  more to come, and getting better all the time! Each patron makes a huge difference, we are a team.

Results of Your Patreon Support over the last Month (#1)

 

Since returning to work in Donbass over a month ago, I’ve recorded well over 100 video reports from here, from quick updates, to interviews, to breaking Graham Patreonnews, to documentary reports.

Your support on Patreon has been a part of all of that. This is all absolutely independent journalism, funded by you. And you’ve all played a part getting the truth out there, penetrating the wall of western propaganda.

For this monthly(ish) round-up, I’d like to focus on English-language reporting, with Patreon being orientated towards a western audience, and select some of the best.

A huge thanks to those already a part of it, and those thinking of being a part. My Patreon page here.

Early at the scene as, on the 10th October, Donetsk once again came under shelling –

Continuing work on MH17 –

A special report from Lugansk, as the clouds of war appeared to recede – some exclusive news, and the mood from the streets –

Special reportage from Krasniy Partizan, as a church is destroyed, and it’s unclear what or why –

An exclusive report from down by Mariupol, as DPR tanks are removed –

A report debunking the rumour about removal of DPR flags –

The start of a special new report following Luba, a young victim of Ukrainian shelling, as she tries to rebuild her life –

Comprehensive reportage, as Flag Day was marked in Donetsk –

A look back, at 18 months passed since a significant day in Donbass –

The start of a new series, to keep up-to-date with events in the DPR / LPR, as they really are –

Confirmation that shelling is once again back on in Donetsk ‘daily’ – an exclusive, for English-speaking audience –

A special report from Donetsk, as it comes under the shelling, and the OSCE are on the scene –

Exclusive reportage, as the UN visited a school in Lugansk area –

A special report, as a Grad hit the centre of Donetsk, in a strange story –

A breaking story, as a Canadian flag flies over Ukrainian positions –

A report from a school in Donetsk, where every pupil has a story about shelling –