Interviews with Ukrainians on Crimean Beaches…

All of the propaganda about Crimea this summer, and yet how was it, really? Here, the words of Ukrainians, on holiday in Crimea, Russia:

Here, a ‘pro-Ukraine’ lady, from Kiev, on holiday in Crimea, gives her view:

Here, ladies from Kharkov:

The words of real people, real Ukrainians, versus the wall of western, Ukrainian propaganda…

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

 

A Graham Newsletter (#31) Russophobes at Cambridge – Fake Research, Buzzfeed – Fake News – Mariupol Adventures, and More!

Ever wonder why the mood, on an official level, from the UK is so entrenched, endemic anti-Russian? Could it be that public figures in the UK are being conditioned, from a young age? Have a look at my new video!

And here on the Truth Speaker – 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/03/cambridge-university-fake-research-rory-finnin-anti-russia-propaganda/

But it’s not all bad news from the UK, British photographer Dean O-Brien recently visited the city of Mariupol, and did a good job of work there – read more about that here –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/07/the-adventures-of-a-british-freelance-photographer-in-mariupol/

Mariupol still shows signs of anti pro-Ukrainian feelings amongst the population

A post shared by Dean O'Brien (@deanobeano1) on

Speaking of visits, a French delegation recently visited Donetsk, I covered that, here – 

And here – 

With more, plus encore, to come, on that!

I was pleased to present my new film from Donbass, with full English subtitles!

And having earlier had a look at fake research, from Cambridge, here a look at fake news, from Buzzfeed –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/04/mariupol-myself-and-buzzfeed-fake-news/

To real news, I brought you breaking updates from Donbass, with video – 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/07/terrorist-attacks-strike-lugansk-today-full-details/

And special reportage from the war-torn village of Nikishino – 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/03/nikishino-special-reportage-from-a-donbass-forgotten-village/

And more real news, debunking of fake news, coming up soon! Thanks for being with me, 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.