⚡ Exclusive Interview with Mike Barson from Madness! Russia, Skripal, Putin, Donbass, More!

Those who know me, or knew me growing up would tell you one thing – I was Madness‘ number 1 fan, going to every concert I could, buying every Madness record I could – even if the cost of one, if a rarity, could be most of what I earned in a month on my paper round.

(Myself in a Madness t-shirt, right, 1994)

In 2014, while working in Donbass, I began receiving messages, on Twitter from a ‘Mike Barson’, saying how much he supported my work, and on (read all the messages here). 2014, 2015 was an extremely busy, intense, stressful time – I remember just running the whole time trying to either film something in Donbass, usually the scene of shelling, or the frontlines, or the MH17 site, and more.

(Mike Barson, in an early incarnation of Madness, the Invaders).

I remember briefly having a look at his Twitter page, but did I believe that one of my childhood heroes was really writing to me, supporting my work? Not for a moment, I thought someone who knew what a Madness fan I was, was having some fun at my expense. I wasn’t biting, hardly replied to his messages.

In 2016, I had a bit more time, and decided to look into it. And, well, it turned out really to be Mike Barson. And this here really is his Twitter account. Mike graciously agreed to forgive my reticence of 2014, and give me an interview. Here it is.

GP: I have to ask on a personal level, when you first started supporting my work, and even wrote to me, you are aware that I couldn’t believe it was the real Mike Barson. Does this happen to you a lot, and how do you respond to that?

MB: With great patience 🙂

GP: On Twitter, you have your own account, and seem to chat with all your fans. In the 90s, I recall sending off quite a few letters to fan club addresses, perhaps you never got them. How do you feel about this new accessibility?

MB: Yeah we got a lot more ways to keep in touch these days! I try to answer a few things when I have time tho it’s not always possible.

GP: When fans and so find you on Twitter, they may be surprised that your views are not what we may expect of a celebrity, I say this in my own sphere of Donbass, and Russia. How would you define your views, broadly if so, and how do fans, and others respond to them?

MB: Well I’m not a fan of injustice and hypocrisy and not sure if I’m a celebrity (whatever that is?) but whatever one is in this day and age I feel its one’s duty to speak out as Einstein apparently said…

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”

It seems now more than ever this is a pertinent statement.

What happened in Ukraine was anything but democratic – a violent coup (my picture from Maidan, left) such as took place in Kiev would never in a month of Sundays have been allowed in a European or American city and yet it was cheered on by the so called ‘international community’ and in particular by many American government officials. It lead to a dangerous schism throughout the country.

This illegal undertaking has been the cause of much suffering for the people of Ukraine and many many innocent people being killed (many of which you yourself have documented) the tragic shooting down of a civilian aircraft above Donbass (why was air traffic not stopped above a war zone??? – obviously because it was a war they were pretending wasn’t happening) and then finally having voted Crimea was returned to the Russian federation.

(My photos from MH17, above, and Crimea in March 2014, below)

It’s difficult to argue that this was not other than Russia’s responsibility-duty to protect the historic Russian people of Crimea and the naval base from the danger arising in the aftermath of the coup which was made vividly apparent by the military attacking their own people – a scandal of grotesque proportions that was hardly reported in western mainstream news. One cannot but notice how the coup in particular is very rarely mentioned which skews the whole question of the situation there.

So seeing this injustice, seeing the results the shelling/killing of –
old ladies in their apartments/houses, going about their ordinary business, shopping etc, and young kids playing football etc and seeing it all ignored in the west is shocking and makes one wonder.

When looking into these affairs also those such as the ghastly Odessa Massacre (picture, right) it’s apparent how these ‘far off places’ are treated very differently in the western press. I could only conclude a kind of racism was taking place against the people in Donbass.

They didn’t matter and yet we destroyed Libya because Gaddafi we were told ‘threatened’ his own people – in Donbass we didn’t seem to have the slightest interest they were being killed by their own army.

So my views are that these events expose an enormous hypocrisy in the western press that is very concerning leaving aside the fact it is totally lacking in any kind of morality. When people are dying as a result of this hypocrisy I feel it is ones duty to call it out if one has the opportunity.

To say nothing of the fact there seems to be a program of demonisation against Russia (Newsweek cover, December 2017) in play that has been repeated many times in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya & Syria even leaving aside the ugly immorality of such subversive propaganda exercises the danger that the world is being pushed into and for the benefit of whom should be of great concern to all rational people.

Do we need WW3? For whose benefit? I’ll be happy when Tony Blair, Bush (pictured) and Cheney are in the dock for previous war crimes committed and country’s work together for their own people and abide by international law.

I don’t know what people expect of a ‘celebrity’ but concerning people who ‘look the other way’ and neither say anything nor engage their brains I guess Mr Einstein spoke on that subject already.

GP: Do you chat about political matters with the band members? If so, how do they respond to this.

(recent promo photo of Madness)

MB: Yeah sometimes, but when the press is giving blanket wall to wall coverage that Putin & Russia is to blame for everything its difficult for people not to be effected as Goebbels said “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”.

GP: Madness are a British institution now, but early on in your career, you got a rough ride from the press. There’s even a scathing Madness song about journalists ‘Don’t Quote Me on That’, which slams into the lies, and lack of ethics of the trade.

Has journalism changed much in the almost 40 years since this song was written? And what made you start following, supporting my work?

MB: Yeah that was an example of where the press used to have a very unfair advantage, they can say what they like and you have no means to respond, these days it seems one has the possibility to respond within social media which is possibly why the mainstream press is going thru hard times?

These days newspapers seem to be rather removed from ordinary people and their concerns though its encouraging that people are reporting independently I guess like yourself.

(Madness in the early days)

Well that’s quite a point actually what I think has changed is that in that time if someone wrote something that wasn’t true in a newspaper…. (the infamous ‘fake news’) you had very little means to respond, its like someone slapping you in the face and you can’t do anything back.

But now with social media people are able to respond to things that are said that are not true and there is suddenly an accountability for journalists and some of them don’t seem to come out in such a great light.

(recent photo of Mike Barson)

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out a while back, in the political world many of them are simply stenographers repeating what they’ve been told – not really journalism. Also it seems that the variety of news stories and opinions have been very diminished where they now act like one big echo chamber.

For example when MH17 was tragically shot down (I used to live in Amsterdam) it was astonishing how all the western press blamed Putin almost before the aeroplane hit the ground – and they blamed him personally.

(The Week, UK magazine, right)

To me this was not logical or rational – (unless you suffer from a deep bias) – Most people were not following the news from East Ukraine so didn’t know there was a war going on and that many military planes were shot down in the preceding weeks. It was clearly not safe.

The worst case rational scenario is that MH17 was mistaken for a military aircraft ie they were defending themselves in a war and mistakenly shot down the jet? There is no sensible rational reason to blame Putin yet that’s exactly what all the press did. Again avoiding the bigger picture of who was actually attacking who.

(Infamous Sun headline, pictured)

All these newspapers were all carrying the exact same illogical argument which makes you question how, why? Either they are full of bias.. or else there is a less savoury reason there was an intention to blame it on Russia for other reasons.

I became interested and started following your work after the overthrow of the government in Kiev. When the troops and tanks started heading east how western governments backed it all when it was so obviously wrong.

(One of my early videos, Slavyansk, April 2014, a local militia blockpost attacked by Ukrainian forces)

I was pretty shocked to see how the EU who were supposed to be guarantors of the agreement between Yanukovych (pictured) and the opposition simply ignored the agreement signed… European values? That incident really put me off the EU. They actually supported a coup – just look how they treat Catalonia now for a taste of hypocrisy.

You were one of the few people reporting on the situation so I started watching your videos. When the Crimea stuff started happening and everyone started talking about the infamous little green men “were they or were they not Russian soldiers” thing was it didn’t really have any relevance to what was happening, a coup had taken place in Kiev! Why was that ok?

(My video from Kiev, January 19th, 2014)

The lack of any greater unbiased perspective in the news (BBC speciality?) shows the narrowness of the debates in MSM these days.

Slowly it became apparent that the US was involved in the overthrow with things like the release of the Pyatt/Nuland tape (below) in which American diplomats were heard discussing who would be allowed in the new Ukrainian government! These facts was totally excluded from the western press not even recognised let alone discussed.

This injustice was racism, not for black people but for poor East Ukrainians. Such a bias in the press and with such disastrous results. Women going shopping killed in their own flats, kids playing football hit my mortar shells, dropping bombs on town halls blowing up innocent women and all these people were simply dropped by western press like Untermenschen. It was reprehensible and no one seemed to care.

So you were one of the few who was recording these events, I consider you did some kind of service to those poor people who died so unjustly in registering what happened to them. One had to cry seeing some of that shit.

(My video, Donetsk, January 2015)

GP: Your music has been an ever-present in my life for about 30 years. During some of the tougher times in Donbass, I remember listening to the song ‘I’ll Compete’.

It’s maybe one of Madness’ lesser-known numbers. Do you have any personal favourites among the perhaps not so well-known Madness canon? And, btw, Michael Caine, the subject of a classic Madness song is also noted for views differing from his contemporaries, do you ever chat with him?

MB: No I never heard Mr Caine was not following the status quo! Unfortunately never got to meet him. We recorded him at an airport for the track Michael Caine – “I think we got it there don’t you” and that was that!

Strange you were playing ‘I’ll Compete’ in that difficult time!

Personal favourites… not so well known songs… “Never Ask Twice” I guess which we played recently at our House of Fun weekender in Butlins in Minehead, and also I like “Around and Around” which is a number that kept its head down thru the years, a sardonic look at ’success’ which I wrote with Mr Lee J Thompson lyricist supreme, that was a b-side from ‘Lovestruck’. There was an old track called ‘Crying Shame’ I have fond memories of –

I remember playing it in Belfast back the 80’s when life was still… full of promise! 🙂

Also Mr Speaker was not bad.

GP: Many have written to me from Russia saying what massive Madness fans they are. Can you tell the story behind your Red Square gig in 1992.

Last year, notably, Robbie Williams pulled all his Russia gigs – would Madness gig there? How do you feel about your Russian fans?

MB: That’s nice to hear we have some fans out there! Red Square 1992, we did a gig that was to be streamed live to Top of the Pops. We stayed in the Rossiya Hotel, biggest hotel in Russia so they said where we stayed had seen its best days.

We had a stage set up right in front of Saint Basil’s Cathedral that was pretty cool. Unfortunately there was no audience and it was bloody cold! We did a radio show or two as well while we were there, It was just after the disintegration of the Soviet Union a very historic period but when Yeltsin was implementing western economic shock therapy they were difficult times.

We also played at the Kubana Festival in 2014 a stones throw from Crimea which I invited you too but unfortunately you gave me a blank at the time (as explained above, and again, sorry – Graham). We flew along the border close to East Ukraine over the clouds on the way back which was very close to where MH17 was shot down and only a month later which was weird and very sad.

GP: I think it was Suggs who said that he couldn’t imagine doing it all when you’re 30. Now, you’re almost 60 yourself Mike (actually, Mike is 60 today, April 21st!), and on a creative high – Can’t Touch Us Now is an incredible piece of work. When some bands come and go in a year, how have Madness stayed going for 40 years? What’s next?

MB: Yeah indeed who would guess all that time ago. I remember seeing a teacher at school who was 40 years old back in the 70’s, i was about 11 thinking what an old git! verging on the end of the road! who could have guessed life begins at… 59! 🙂

I suppose we lasted as we were mates before we formed a band and always got on – even to this day it remains a congenial bunch! ha ha.

(Single from ‘Can’t Touch us Now’, Mr Apples)

We don’t work as full on as we did in the early days (which drives you round the bend). We just finished a tour of Scandinavia and had a most enjoyable time.

Thanks for the kind words regarding the latest album, I think as long as one doesn’t lose touch with ones inspiration and love of music then all those years only improve ones talent like a good wine 🙂 !

We gained a lot of experience over the years so I think were in a good place at the moment.

GP: Apologies if this is indulgent, but I attach a photo of my collection of Madness singles. How would you rate it? (We can do albums another time 🙂


MB:
10 out of 10 for the single collection!

GP: I’m sure people will read this, and come away with things they didn’t know about Mike Barson. They may not also know that you can tell jokes in Dutch.

Is there anything else to know? 🙂

MB: Without a doubt.

As a post-note, I asked Mike his opinion about the Skripal situation: 

I think its horrible what happened to the Skripals, especially his daughter and I hope they will both fully recover.

Regarding the government handling of what happened I find it painful to see British MP’s failing so completely to apply the basics of law in this country – That one is Innocent until proven guilty. Its ugly seeing people baying for revenge without any proof – and then attacking Jeremy Corbyn for posing a rational civilised question simply asking for proof first. Are MP’s barbarians these days? – rather more like clowns!

In a fast-moving situation, Mike has been vocal with his opinion on the Skirpals, Syria, and other themes, find him on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/MikeBarson108

How the Western Press Got, and Get, it So, So Wrong on Crimea (A Brief Guide)

Where to begin? Well, where they began, with the BBC blasting in March 2014 –

Why is Crimea so dangerous?

Here’s a couple of my videos from Simferopol in March of 2014, where it was less dangerous, and more just friendly, and optimistic.

And the famous, ‘little green men’, of which we’ve read so much about in western press – here, of the time, March 2014 – 

“Little green men” or “Russian invaders”?BBC

Selfskies from the frontline: People of the Crimea pose up with the masked Russian invaders – Daily Mail

The Mail headline even by western press standards a mis-step, given that even the Telegraph of the time was writing (while rather amusingly referring to the city of Sevastopol as ‘Sebastopol’ throughout) – Ukraine crisis: ‘Polite people’ leading the silent invasion of the Crimea

Patrolling the streets with the leisurely but deliberate pace of British police constables on the beat, the men with machine guns in Ukraine appear to be there to show their presence − not to fight.

And in case you’re thinking the author of that, Roland Oliphant may have been partisan or something, his subsequent work shows all the standard western media memes on Crimea in place – from March of 2014 –

March 2014 – Ukraine crisis: On Crimea’s new border the Russian Army waits

Ukraine crisis: This is the de-facto annexation of Crimea

Since 2014, there has been a deliberate, and repeated conflation in western media of the ‘little green men’, and ‘self-defence forces’, with the aim being to make out that Crimea was ‘taken’ by ‘Russian forces’, and there was no such thing as ‘self-defence forces’.

The Daily Beast, from 2017 even –

LITTLE GREEN MEN

Putin’s Hidden Insurgency Tore Up Ukraine. Now It’s Coming for Your Inbox.

(Pictured, standard western portrayal of ‘little green men’ – here, BBC). 

Putin claimed ‘little green men’ in Crimea were pro-Russian locals. They were actually Russian forces laying groundwork for invasion—a playbook that’s taking over American media.

However, those of us who were here, know the difference. There were ‘little green men’, and this my GIF here, Crimea, March 2014 – 


They were clearly regular Russian troops, and with their black sea base, Russia was allowed to have 25,000 troops on Crimea. It was never a secret that these guys had been mobilised, so it’s a surprise when the west makes out it’s all surprised they’re Russian – Simon Ostrovsky of Vice, a key exponent of this. 

Yet, a couple of key points here. There were also local self-defence forces, clearly local, clearly not regular Russian military – my video here –

Both groups were perfectly approachable, filmable. And neither of them in any way played any kind of role in ‘forcing people to vote’ in 2014, as the west has led you to believe.

Ukraine crisis: David Cameron attacks Crimea vote ‘under barrel of a Kalashnikov

Britain warns Putin after ‘Kalashnikov referendum’ in Crimea

And on…

The subject of Crimean Tatars and the western press is so voluminous as to warrent its own entry, which will be. This touches on it, the Telegraph, October 2014 – 

Despair and euphoria in Crimea six months after Russian annexationDispatch: Tatars face campaign of repression after opposing annexation, while ethnic Russians rejoice at joining motherland

Other favourite themes in the western press are that building a bridge from one part of Russia to another is some sort of sinister and ominous act:

Two years after annexation, Putin seeks to bind Crimea by bridge to Russia – Reuters, 2015

Focus on the cost of the bridge, linking Russia’s mainland and Crimea:

Russia spends ‘fortune’ on bridge to Crimea –BBC, 2017

Predictions of doom –

PUTIN’S BRIDGE TO CRIMEA IS DOOMED TO COLLAPSE – Newsweek, 2017

Why Kerch May Prove a Bridge Too Far for Russia – Moscow Times, 2016

And the metaphors do go on, and on. 

A favourite new meme of the media is that someone things ‘aren’t going to plan’ with Crimea, it’s ‘not working out for Russia’, etc.

The Annexation of Crimea isn’t going as Planned – Foreign Policy, 2017 – in which there is a beyond tenuous linking of the trial of a Crimean Tatar extremist, and Crimea itself. A real stretch.

Lily Hyde: The annexation of Crimea isn’t going as planned

Another favourite, that Crimea is somehow, ‘hard to access’, is also a theme, see the BBC here, from 2017.

Do a search for flights to Crimea, from anywhere, on any search engine, see for yourself how many hundreds there are…

That Crimea is somehow ‘dangerous’, also a favourite Crimea-meme – even the UK’s official travel advice warns against visiting to Crimea and that ‘tensions remain high’…

Here we have leading New Zealand travel website Stuff.co.nz – in 2017 – telling us that active war is going in Crimea,

Fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian-backed armed separatists is common in both the eastern and southeastern regions of the Ukraine, more specifically, the regions of Donetsk oblast, Luhansk oblast, and Crimea. Civilians continue to get caught up in the fighting.

No kind of war ever took place in Crimea as it rejoined Russia in 2014. I’m in Crimea just now, and don’t take my word for how calm Crimea is just now – listen to some Ukrainains here:

However, one thing’s for sure, the information war wages around, and on Crimea, and the west have chosen their weapon – lies. 

BBC Hit Piece, My Response To It …

I’ve been pretty vocal over the last week after becoming aware of the BBC’s intention to do a piece on me, and what that would be (given it’s the BBC):

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/17/bbc-its-fake-news-and-always-no-from-me/

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/21/why-the-bbc-have-come-after-me/

Here’s the piece, and my comments in bold. I’ll deal with the part of the article (by Sam Bright) about myself, Texas and Patrick are more than capable of answering for themselves, and have done just that. Texas here. Patrick here. Photos added for reference.

Bentley isn’t a one-off. Other Westerners have been using online crowdfunding to finance their activities in eastern Ukraine since the conflict started.
Among them is 38-year-old Graham Phillips from Nottingham. Since November 2013, Phillips has been covering the conflict, broadcasting amateur videos from Donbass, often in the midst of tearing bullets and toppling buildings. His daredevil style has drawn the attention of audiences, and he boasts 86,000 subscribers on YouTube. From 2014 to 2015, Phillips was employed by Zvezda – a media channel run by the Russian Ministry of Defence, and he also freelanced for the state-operated TV channel RT.

No mention of my ending my own contract with Zvezda, and my oft-mentioned grievance with RT over how they cut me off in Poland, after 2nd deportation, nor actually, that at the start of the conflict, before I realised what they were like, I even did some freelance work for … the BBC.

Actually I wrote for the New Statesman, Politico, Newsweek – before coming to similar conclusions about them.

Not that it’s even an issue, working for Russian media – they allowed me to report the story the BBC don’t want you to hear, and not one thing I ever reported while working for Russian media was disproven, but working for Russian media represents way, way the minority of my output as a journalist.

Phillips is highly critical of the Ukrainian government and appears to back the break-up of the country. Speaking on camera to Bentley in September 2015, Phillips accuses the Ukrainian government of “lies and propaganda”, before adding: “I absolutely believe that we’ll win in the end.”

The old trick of taken out of context. This was clearly said in the context of the ‘fight for truth’ winning. And one line, taken from the thousands of things I’ve said … and, taken out of context. As for the rest, of course I’m critical of the Ukrainian government, how can one not criticise a government which has set about shelling civilians? Not that the BBC article makes any mention of that at all, of course, and in any case most of my reportage is actually letting people in Donbass speak for themselves. 

Since May 2014, Phillips has been forbidden from entering Ukraine, on the grounds of “national security”. The Ukrainian government even took the unusual step of issuing an open letter to UK authorities, condemning Phillips’ actions.

This is technically factual, to point. However, there are two sides, and no attempt to balance the negative about me with another side. Nor mention that this attempt by the Ukrainian government was dismissed by the UK government. 

Phillips says that he’s an independent journalist and claims that he has financed his activities entirely through crowdfunding from January 2016 onwards – although existing records indicate he’s raised less than £7,500 through crowdfunding campaigns during that time.

I’ve raised a bit more than that, as I also crowdfund using Paypal, and my Russian card. But, yeah, it’s tough to cover costs as an independent journalist, contribute if you can!

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

A screenshot from Graham Phillips’ latest crowdfunding campaign. Phillips is currently crowdfunding for a new period of reporting in eastern EuropeImage copyright.

That’s actually not true, this campaign closed a couple of weeks ago, and there are none currently active.

At least three of his campaigns have been created to fund work in Donbass, and despite being banned from the country, he’s travelled to the region frequently since May 2014. On his blog, he says he enters the region via Russia, although travelling to the area via separatist controlled border crossings is currently illegal under Ukrainian law.

And that’s Ukrainian law. So really, so what? Hundreds of Europeans, people from across the world have entered, enter the DPR and LPR that way...

Because of his actions, the crowdfunding website JustGiving removed one of Phillips’ appeals in July 2015. After the company was notified that Phillips was unable to legally re-enter the region, JustGiving refused to release the £2,000 that Phillips had raised through his campaign.

Actually this is really pretty disingenuous. The campaign on JustGiving was purely for humanitarian aid, for Donbass, and not for my work at all. No mention of this whatsoever, by the BBC

Although Phillips also declined to speak to BBC Trending, he has disputed the company’s actions, and his campaigns remain active on Indiegogo.

I actually had quite a lot to say to the BBC in my replies to Sam, see here:

Unlike Bentley, Phillips has not engaged in combat, although he has been filmed navigating a drone with the help of soldiers in Donbass and has interviewed Ukrainian prisoners of war.

Pre-empting what the BBC would write (along with the narrative, etc), I already dealt with this point here – https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/21/why-the-bbc-have-come-after-me/


Graham Phillips on Twitter, saying that he chose not to apply the Geneva Convention to his workImage copyright@GRAHAMWP_UK

Out of my over 47,000 tweets, encompassing all themes, Sam chose this. Ok, as he wishes, I don’t have a problem with it. I know that I always work with good faith, sincerity, integrity. And there are plenty of tweets stating this, again, not of interest to the BBC. 

Phillips is not the only Brit who has travelled to the Ukraine conflict region. Earlier this month, Benjamin Stimson, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was sentenced by Manchester Crown Court to five years and four months in prison for assisting separatist forces in Donbass.

So, an attempt to tie me in with the recently imprisoned Ben Stimson, that’s clear then.

And a question for the BBC, why did the article start out under this headline: Westerners crowdfunding for the break-up of Ukraine – 

To this, shortly later: The communist soldier using charity sites to fund his war (Texas)…

The adventures of an American in Donbass perhaps not of the greatest interest to a British reader? I have my own view, that the BBC tried to come for me, I saw them coming, called them, and they’ve ended up going a bit soft. One-sided, propagandistic, deceitful – of course, it’s the BBC, but, flaccid. The article they wanted to write, which would give the government the excuse to stop me leaving the country, didn’t happen. It was a clumsy, half-cocked hatchet job.

Gallingly, I, like everyone else in the UK, have to pay for this shit… 

Why the BBC Have Come After Me…

The UK’s position on the Ukraine situation has been becoming increasingly aggressive:

The imprisonment of Ben Stimson:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/18/rank-injustice-hypocrisy-in-the-uk-the-case-of-ben-stimson-and-chris-garrett/

Increasing their support of the Ukrainian military: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/21/united-kingdom-steps-up-support-of-ukrainian-army-still-shelling-civilians/

The case of Ben Stimson was a link up between the BBC and the UK government, with the BBC stitching Ben up – 

… and the government locking him up. 

That was the 11th, on the 17th, I got this email from the BBC (screenshots pictured).

Hi Graham,

My name’s Sam Bright – I work for the BBC in London.

I’m currently writing a story for BBC Trending about the work of individuals such as Patrick Lancaster, Russell Bentley and yourself in eastern Ukraine.

We would obviously be interested in speaking to you for this story, to hear your views. We would like to ask you generally about your experiences, and about how you use the internet to fund your work and spread your message.

Let me know if this would be possible. I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks,

Sam Bright

I replied:

Sam,

No offence to you personally, as I don’t know you, and you may be a nice guy, but the BBC are a shower of despicable, disgraceful, disgraced propagandists, not to be trusted in any circumstances. And so my response would be something like: shame on you bunch of lying, propagandising scoundrels for bringing journalism into disrepute, and my country into disrepute. Where are your morals, ethics, or integrity? How can you be so entirely dishonest in your coverage, and reportage? It’s rank deceit.

The BBC is fake news, outright lies, and I’m having absolutely no part of your odious operation, in any way. Actually, you disgust me. I always work to report the truth – that means I work against the BBC, who work to twist, and distort the truth, at every turn.

I think that covers it for now,

Graham

On the 20th, Sam replied: 

Hi Graham,

We’re planning to run a story on the BBC News website about your crowdfunding and activities in eastern Ukraine.

Specifically we’re reporting that since November 2013, you have been covering the conflict and that you were formerly employed by Zvezda. We are reporting that you have been banned from entering Ukraine on the grounds of national security and that the Ukrainian government has issued an open letter to the UK authorities condemning your activities.

We are also noting that you say you have financed your activities entirely through crowdfunding from January 2016, and that you have raised roughly £7,000 through crowdfunding websites since that time.

We are reporting that you have frequently travelled to Donbass, despite your travel ban. We are also noting that the site JustGiving removed one of your appeals in July 2015, because of your defiance of the travel ban. We are reporting that you have been filmed navigating a drone with the help of soldiers in Donbass and have interviewed Ukrainian prisoners of war.

If you have any comment on the above or would like to reconsider the possibility of an interview, please let me know.

Sam Bright
Reporter | BBC

So, it’s clear what line the BBC are going to take – that I ‘worked for Russian military tv channel Zvezda‘ – I did, briefly, at the end of 2014, start of 15. They gave me freedom as a correspondent (pictured in a Zvezda piece), I did my own thing, sent my pieces to them, had contact only with producers there, like any channel. Yet, still, I made the decision to end my working arrangement with them, and since March 2015, have been fully independent, worked only for myself.

Will the BBC cover this? They will, but they are clearly going to make out that I’ve only raised £7000 via crowdfunding, clearly that doesn’t cover costs, there must be some sort of shadowy, Russian sponsor etc…. the truth is much more prosaic, that I’ve raised a bit more via my Paypal, and individual donations, but actually I live modestly, and yeah, it is a sometimes a struggle to get by. But, that’s the life I’ve chosen, and I accept it.

Be sure that the BBC journalist penning the hatchet piece about me from an office in London is surely earning much more than myself, and will make no mention that I’ve sacrificed an apartment in Odessa, any number of material comforts offered by working for channels, to go it alone, and dedicate my life to reporting the truth. There will be nothing about the hundreds of videos I’ve made giving those in Donbass a voice, being first at the scene where no other western correspondents were, the many documentary films

No, it’s going to be that I’ve frequently ‘returned to Donbass while being banned from there’, that I’m some sort of a ‘risk to Ukrainian national security’, and the flying a drone with the help of soldiers, interviewing Ukrainian prisoners of war. As for the drone, I did fly that with members of the people’s militia around, and they could hardly not be, given that it was positions. And indeed, as I’ve been completely open about, as with everything – they advised me on where would be most interesting to fly it. And, really, so what?

And the interviewing Ukrainian prisoners of war – sure, I’ve done that a lot of times. But, Ukrainian forces have taken me captive twice, interviewed me at gunpoint, put a bag over my head for a day, kept me in a darkened room without food or water.  Not to mention stolen a great deal of my possessions. So, I earned my right to interview Ukrainian POWs the hard way, and actually, I always stay within reasonable boundaries.

But, all of that will be put forward to make me out to be some sort of a bad guy. No mention of the tens of thousands I’ve raised for humanitarian work in Donbass, the ongoing support of the children’s home in Lutugino, for example. And the rest, that I’m some sort of Russian spy, propagandist etc. Not mentioning that I’ve often spoken of not liking the RT channel, after how they treated me, and ended my own contract with Zvezda. And am, of course, British, with no connection at all to Russia, other than that it’s a country I’m interested in, like, like doing reportage from – as others, Serbia, for example.

So, why did I refuse to speak to the BBC, as some have asked? Because the story they have decided to write is pre-determined. Anything I say to them would only be turned around and used against me, and more, I would be complicit, thus compromised, in their hit piece on me, which all leads to the question – why are they doing it?

Clearly, the BBC have been tasked to do a hit piece on me, to set public opinion against me, so that if the UK government do try to take steps against me, there won’t be any public uproar, or outcry – as there wasn’t with Ben.

But, it’s a clumsy attempt from them, and it’s not going to work. However the fact they even tried it shows which way the wind is blowing in the UK.

I replied to Sam:

Samuel, again, this is not personal because I don’t know you, but the BBC are not to be trusted in any way. I’ve seen many times the deceit, and propaganda the BBC have, and do, perpetuate.

I’m not going to be any part of it.

So, it’s a no, and will always be that way. It is your right to reprint parts of these emails I have sent you. But, that’s it. I stand for honest, truthful journalism, of integrity. The BBC is fake news, lies, propaganda.

Regards, Graham

So, it’s their move now. But, I’m ready for them. Bring it on!

BBC: It’s Fake News, and Always No, from Me.

Another enquiry comes today, to speak to the BBC. And the answer, for the stated reasons, is, as it will ever be. No! (Photo added, for illustration)

Hi Graham,

My name’s Sam Bright – I work for the BBC in London.

I’m currently writing a story for BBC Trending about the work of individuals such as Patrick Lancaster, Russell Bentley and yourself in eastern Ukraine.

We would obviously be interested in speaking to you for this story, to hear your views. We would like to ask you generally about your experiences, and about how you use the internet to fund your work and spread your message.

Let me know if this would be possible. I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks,

Sam Bright
Reporter | BBC Trending
Email: sam.bright@bbc.co.uk

My answer:

Sam,

No offence to you personally, as I don’t know you, and you may be a nice guy, but the BBC are a shower of despicable, disgraceful, disgraced propagandists, not to be trusted in any circumstances. And so my response would be something like: shame on you bunch of lying, propagandising scoundrels for bringing journalism into disrepute, and my country into disrepute. Where are your morals, ethics, or integrity? How can you be so entirely dishonest in your coverage, and reportage? It’s rank deceit.

The BBC is fake news, outright lies, and I’m having absolutely no part of your odious operation, in any way. Actually, you disgust me. I always work to report the truth – that means I work against the BBC, who work to twist, and distort the truth, at every turn.

I think that covers it for now,

Graham

 

Mariupol, Myself and Buzzfeed Fake News

In May of 2014, Buzzfeed wrote an article about me – https://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/how-a-british-blogger-became-an-unlikely-star-of-the-ukraine?utm_term=.fcpgVZ7AD#.myRGd7Yyk – I wrote about my reaction to it here, in early 2015 – because basically, I’d been done over.

However, there were a few factors to take into account at the time – I was extremely busy working, on the scene, in Donbass, and the article was just ‘one of these things’, one of a number of articles written to try to take me down.

Also, a strong reaction from my side would have simply seen Buzzfeed go for me more, and I actually felt that the long phone calls I’d had with Max Seddon has somewhat taken the edge off what Buzzfeed really wanted to do – a full takedown. (Photo from article, here)

However, it’s an article people, who want to have a go at me, bring up even now as a first offering to ‘slap me down’. It shows up high in the google rankings. So, here, in a few points, I’ll go through what was clear fake news by Buzzfeed, before people even really used that term.

Mariupol, May 2014 (after shooting on May 9th)

Buzzfeed fake: But how many people were killed? Local news reported two deaths. Ukraine’s interior minister said 21 people died in the fighting. Human Rights Watch could only confirm seven deaths after visiting all four hospitals where the wounded were taken.

None of that seemed right to Graham Phillips, a roving Ukraine-based British blogger who films guerrilla field reports from the conflict’s hot spots for his own YouTube channel and has become a growing star on Kremlin-owned media. So he set out to investigate in the way that has made him a cult micro-celebrity in east Ukraine’s crisis: by interviewing angry people on the street for 90 seconds at a time.

Some people told him that more than 100 people had died in the fighting.

Reality: Actually, I was committed to finding out how many people had really been killed on May 9th. Indeed, I interviewed some locals who told me that the figure was 100 – and I put those interviews up unedited, as with all my interviews –

And what issue do Buzzfeed have with putting up unedited interviews with locals, from the scene? In any case, this was just a part of my Mariupol reportage, I wanted to cover every side, even interviewing Ukrainian soldiers about what happened –

I explored all over the police station, at the centre of events on May 9th, just 2 of those videos here –

I interviewed people on the scene there – 

More, from a local I obtained real, first-hand events on May 9th – just some of those videos here – 

More, I visited city morgues, several times, to confirm the number – 

I questioned those who had told me the figure of ‘100’ – 

So, to another, Buzzfeed fake:  In Phillips’ version of events, Ukraine’s army was eager to cover up the massacre and so it bypassed morgues and hospitals and hid the bodies in the woods. Relatives of the dead were too terrified of reprisals to claim them missing, he said. Phillips’ interlocutors, whom he described as “well-informed local sources,” provided no evidence for these claims. He has yet to corroborate them. Nonetheless, Phillips soon appeared on Russian television promoting the unverified figure of 100 dead.

Reality: This was never my ‘version of events’. I simply uploaded videos of what people on the scene had said. And as for my ‘going on Russian television to promote the unverified figure‘, that’s just an outright lie. Here you can see me on RT at the time – 

From 1:27, I say ‘The official figure killed is 9, the Ukrainian figure is 21, some say much more.’

What happened next? I continued going to Mariupol to confirm figures – here, just one morgue confirmed 11 dead –

I carried on investigating in Mariupol until Ukrainian forces seized me, and deported me from there, on May 20th, 2014 –

And that’s reality for you, versus Buzzfeed fake news. 

Cambridge University, Fake Research, Rory Finnin, Anti-Russia Propaganda

Ever wonder why the mood in the UK is so entrenched, endemic, anti-Russian? Well, where are a huge number of politicians, business leaders and more, educated?

Fake News
is now in the zeigeist, and a number of media outlets have been accused of producing fake news over the last year. However it looks like even that mighty bastion, Cambridge University – 2nd oldest university in the English-speaking world, along with Oxford arguably the most famous, has been implicated in a Fake News spin-off – Fake Research.

Dr Rory Finnin, is the Head of Slavonic Studies at Cambridge University. Actual biographical details of Finnin are not readily available. In a world of biographies laid out with full details, Finnin’s gives only the scantest of details, but an internet search shows he has been at Cambridge in a senior departmental capacity since at least 2010.

Finnin is not one to even make an attempt to be impartial as an academic, here he is, on Al Jazeera in 2014, accusing Putin of ‘flat untruths, really bad strategic policy‘. Finnin entirely defends the coup power put in place by Euromaidan, making no reference at all to the terrorism behind that coup. Finnin goes on to accuse Yanukovych of shooting ‘at least 94’ of ‘his own people’ – something so preposterous even the BBC had to debunk it. Watch the interview with Finnin here –

01:47 – “The Ukrainian people legally took power.” Ok, I was at Euromaidan, and filmed there. This is the ‘Ukrainian people legally taking power‘, then…

Finnin rounds off by stating that Russia has ‘invaded’ Ukraine – it’s ‘as simple as that’. If you are, as Finnin clearly is, a pathological Russophone, then it probably is ‘as simple as that‘. However, for the rest of us, it’s really not, and surely, particularly, the finest minds of the UK at Cambridge should not be being taught by a man who believes a deeply nuanced crisis can be summarised by ‘as simple as that’, on a presumably paid-for tv appearance… no mention of the far-right, ultra-nationalist, neo-Nazi forces behind Euromaidan which caused Crimea, and the former east of Ukraine to take up against the unelected coup power they put in place so strongly? From Finnin, nothing of the sort…

Finnin pops up again in 2014, on CNN, August, to accuse Russia, of ‘waging a war of aggression against the Ukrainian state’ and the ‘Russian ‘invasion’ of the ‘east of Ukraine’, ‘Russian troops’, ‘columns of tanks’, ‘regular Russian soldiers’… watch for yourself, from 2 minutes on –

Finnin continues with some bizarre faux-concern for these ‘Russian soldiers’, and the ‘backlash’ they supposedly face back home. There is a truly staggering moment after 5 minutes when he positions Mariupol as a ‘peaceful’, city where Russian-speakers had their rights enshrined, and ‘hundreds, if not thousands’, of citizens had protested Putin. No mention at all of Ukrainian forces storming into Mariupol in May, opening fire, and then firing on civilians marking Victory Day – just a couple of videos of that here –

Finnin clearly prides himself as an ‘esteemed academic’, and so forth. Actually his biography on the official Cambridge website states –

‘In 2015 Finnin won a Teaching Award for Outstanding Lecturer from the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), the representative body for all students at the University.’

But there’s no claim even that Finnin has ever done any of his own research on this situation. All his assertions are based on what Finnin has read, and seen, in the media. And given there’s no attempt whatsoever to present a balanced picture, it’s clear that Finnin has simply chosen media to suit his own polemic. As simple as that…

Finnin’s views expressed on his television appearances are exactly those which make it into his ‘academic research’, taught to students at Cambridge (pictured). So, to recap – entirely one-sided, biased, unrelated to facts and entirely dictated by Finnin’s transparent vendetta against Putin, and Russia. Finnin’s piece, with Dr Thomas T Grant (Faculty of Law), from August 2015 – published here on the official Cambridge University site – https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/discussion/dont-call-it-a-civil-war-ukraines-conflict-is-an-act-of-russian-aggression

Don’t call it a civil war – Ukraine’s conflict is an act of Russian aggression

A few extracts of that here –

As Ukraine marks 24 years since its independence from the Soviet Union, it is embroiled in the most dangerous armed conflict in Europe – against the Russian Federation.

Wrong. Ukraine is waging a war of self-defence against an international aggressor – the Russian Federation.

Then there’s the matter of Ukraine’s right to self-defence, which of course is a right of all states. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is just about the only case where a UN member state has seized and in effect sliced off whole regions of another UN member state.

Perhaps eedless to say, there’s no attempt to balance any of this with an alternative view to Finnin’s diatribe. So, let’s come to the nub of it – what is Finnin there for, what does he want? Have a look here again – from 7 mins 30 on…

He wants Ukraine to be in NATO, have access to NATO arms. And here – 

It’s not as if the signs aren’t clear. Recent weeks have seen another intense spike in fighting in eastern Ukraine. Given all the prior sabre-rattling, nuclear threats and general rhetorical brinksmanship, it takes little imagination to see the conflict expanding beyond Ukraine’s borders into EU member states.

Rory Finnin is within the hallowed walls of Cambridge, with a role in shaping the minds of future key players in the UK. And be sure, he’s there to shape them entirely against Russia, position Russia as a ‘threat’ in the strongest way possible, incite and cement anti-Russian sentiment, warmonger even.

It’s time to face reality. The continued escalation of the war in Ukraine poses a serious challenge to international public order. Journalists have risked everything to report events from this war, and we need to stop watering down their reports with euphemism and understatement. We need to call this what it is: a war of self-defence against an international aggressor.

So, that’s Cambridge University. Fake Research, feeding into Fake News. Fake Doctors. However a very real answer to the question about why there is so much anti-Russian sentiment in the UK. Some people are making sure it’s kept like that. And be sure, Finnin is far from the only one.