Remembering Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin

When Ukrainian shelling hit by where they had been filming, just outside Lugansk, the village of Metalist, journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his technician Anton Voloshin, working there for the Rossiya channel, lost their lives. Voloshin was, literally, blown to pieces by the blast, while Kornelyuk (born in Ukraine, educated in St Petersburg) made it to the emergency room only to lose his battle for life after 35 minutes.

igor

Yesterday was the third anniversary of their death, I visited the site, where a momument now stands, in their memory. 

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Donbass, and not only, will always remember them for their work, and their sacrifice.

(Support) Patrick Lancaster in Crimea

American journalist, known for his years of Donbass coverage, Patrick Lancaster has gone to Crimea for an exciting reportage project.  Here’s his video introducing the project

You can support Patrick’s work here via crowdfunding –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/next-period-of-reportage-donbass-crimea-more-russia/x/12236308#/

And Patrick’s first report here, from Sevastopol, with more coming up soon – 

Serbia: 10 Reasons Why People are Protesting

To give you a guide to why the protesters are on the streets, in their words, and the general situation in Serbia.

1. Life really isn’t that good for most people (population around 7 million) in Serbia, the stated salary of 400 Euros is a dream for most, with many earning just 200 Euros a month. These young protestere here in Belgrade speak about working for ‘5 Euros a shift’ –

2. Alexander Vucic, Prime Minister since 2014, (though actually running the show since 2012, as leader of the largest party – SNS) may have officially taken 55% of the vote in recent presidential elections, but few believe that was the real result, with mass denouncing of the election as ‘rigged’. 

3. While presenting the appearance of being pro-Russian, to appease a generally pro-Russian Serbian populace, Vucic is actually taking Serbia closer towards the EU (which many Serbians in general support), the US, and NATO (which almost all Serbians are strongly opposed to, due to NATO bombings of Serbia (then Yugoslavia) in 1999).

4. Many feel that Vucic is authoritarian, and in a position where he now controls everything in Serbia, including the state media, giving plub jobs to his inner circle etc, while many in the country struggle. Interviews with protesters here:

5. Driving the protests on is indignance by protesters, who feel they are being ignored, by wider media, but particularly by their own Serbian, state-controlled media. Often the most heated parts of the (peaceful) protests are when the march passes the national newspaper, and television news, offices. This video here, from April 12th, outside state tv channel, RTS –

6. Back to the economy, and things are not going well in Serbia. Debt to GDP has risen from 41.8% in 2010, to 73.4% in 2015.  Serbia’s national debt is estimated at over 29 billion dollars now, rising fast.

7. Rather than addressing the problems of the country, protesters accuse of Vucic of covering them up, ie declaring the national average monthly salary had ‘passed 400 Euros‘, when that patently wasn’t the case, or whitewashing them – in the case of engaging a PR firm to rewrite his wikipedia page. 

8. More, there are allegations that Vucic himself, is corrupt – he and his family own seven properties in Belgrade, worth over 1 million Euros, and recently sold an eighth.  Yet Vucic reports himself as having only one property, a studio flat, and an income of only 1000 Euros a month.

9. All of this has contributed to a malaise, where many in Serbia feel there is little hope for them, or their lives. Unemployment is high, almost 20%, youth unemployment extremely high, 44.2% with many young people feeling there are little prospects for them in Serbia:

10. While the protests are peaceful, which they currently are, with few police even along, and while there is no prospect of them escalating to seizing administrative buildings, violence etc, as per Euromaidan, no one is stopping the protests, Vucic himself, meanwhile, has sought to defuse the protests by making out he actually ‘supports’ them – read about that here. And, in cases strong, personal dislike for Vucic himself, would also have to be another factor –

Make sure you are following me on Twitter, and YouTube, for full coverage! This, yesterday:

St Petersburg Metro Terror Attack: Who Were the Victims?


Tragic news today, as it was announced that one of the victims, wounded in the 3rd April Metro attack in St Petersburg had passed away in hospital, taking the death toll to 14 now, with it only yesterday having been announced that all 13 victims of the blast had been laid to rest. 

However, little attention in the western media has been given to any of the victims, those killed by the terror metro blast. So, here is who they were.

48-year-old Irina Medyantseva was on the Metro with her daughter, 28-year-old Elena. Irina was a master doll and puppet maker, making figures with fairy-tale faces from cloth and porcelain, teaching her daughter her profession, holding exhibitions together. She had lived in St Petersburg for 9 years.

St Petersburg Victim IrinaBelow is one of Irina’s final works, a doll called the ‘Giver of Joy’. She died in throwing herself to cover her daughter, who was wounded, but is maing a stable recovery. Irina died in the ambulance. Irina, described a ‘kind, gentle woman, and true artist‘ had a husband, and another daughter, Yulia. Here, her distraught husband, Alexander, speaks about his wife, and devastation on her loss.

Giver of JoyKsenia Malyukova, 18, was a student of St. Petersburg Obstetric College, in her third year, studying to be a doctor. Ksenia was returning from a practical in a children’s hospital, going to the centre to meet up with her boyfriend.

Ksenia St Petersburg

Kseniya was an only child, she lost her mother in 2008 to cancer. Her father is devastated, having for hours refused to believe it could be true. Friends remembered as as a ‘lovely girl, always ready to help, the soul of an angel’. Kseniya had danced all her life, and until injury stopped her in 2015, performed cheerleading, to a professional level.

St Petersburg victim Kseniya

Dilbar Aliyev, 20, born in Azerbaijan, but moved to St Petersburg as a child. She was a third year psychology student in St Petersburg. Described by friends as ‘like any girl of her age, she had big plans, she loved life. She was full of energy, blossoming, and looking to the future.’

Petersburg Dilbara

Here, Dilbar poses next to a sign which reads ‘You can take the girl of of St Petersburg, but not St Petersburg out of the girl.’ 

St Petersburg victim Dilbara

Denis Petrov, 25, a Master of Sports, champion in hand-to-hand fighting, trainer at the Warrior martial ars club. Colleagues, and students describe him as ‘in the prime of life, everything was ahead of him. An excellent person, and coach.’

Angelina Svistunova only turned 27 in February. She studied at the college of textile and light industry, in absentia, and was an animal lover.

She went online about fifteen minutes before the deadly blast, putting a status update on her Vkontakte wishing ‘all well!’.  In her final post, written around a week before the tragedy, she wrote thanking her parents for giving her life, giving her a beautiful name, a wonderful childhood, a wonderful youth, for always being there for her, always finding the right words, and being sincere. ‘Thank you for the love, care and attention – mum and dad, I love you very much, and pray to god for your health! I take a bow to you!’

Angelina’s parents are in deep shock at what happened to their daughter.

Mansour Sagadeev had turned 17 on March 27th. The young St Petersburg man had grown up in an active family, his father Tahir – a lover of ski walks, hiking, and rafting on the mountain rivers. In his spare time, Mansur himself liked to walk, play football, table tennis, and he even played the piano.

In 2015, Mansour began studying at the St. Petersburg College of Telecommunications at, University of Telecommunications. He studied in the second year, specializing in radio communications, broadcasting and television.

Mansour was remembered as a ‘dedicated student, a modest young man, always ready to help those around him.’

Larisa Shchekina, 67. Larisa, a grandmother, worked as an editor at the St. Petersburg Academy of Postgraduate Teacher Education, in the publishing of educational literature and manuals.

Larisa’s whole life was devoted to texts. In 1982, she graduated from the then Leningrad State University, Faculty of Journalism. Friends remember her as an ‘educated, kind, wonderful person’, while colleagues (Laris had worked as a journalist, and editor of many St Petersburg publications) tell of a professional, loyal, wise lady, a true St Peterburger. 

For her dedication to her profession, her home city and her work, Larisa Grigoryevna was awarded the medal “In memory of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg”.

Yuri Nalimov, 71. Yuri was born in 1945, 29 days after victory in World War Two. In his career, Yuri worked as an investigator, spending 24 years in the North-Western Affairs Office for Transport, also working as a senior officer at St Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport. On retirement, in 1996, Nalimov Yuri left with the rank of colonel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In his years of public service, Yuri was awarded many medals, including one for ‘Excellent Service in the Ministry of Internal Affair’. In his retirement, Yuri, who friends rememberd as a ‘loyal, kind, honourable man’ enjoyed carving wood, making benches, tables, chairs by hand, and enjoying spending time with nature. He had a wife, and daughter.

Oksana Danilenko, 26. Oksana was described by friends as a ‘dreamer, a wonderful artist who dreamt of writing a book about the Victorian era, and even going to live in Japan.’ Oksana was a fan of computer games, and animals, and described by friends as a ‘cheerful girl, like a teenager’.

Oksana, who was travelling from her studies to work at the petshop ‘Goldfish’, did not die instantly in the blast.

Maria Nevmerzhitskaya, 53. Maria had come to Petersburg from the village of Krasnoozernoe, near Priozersk, in the Leningrad region of Russia, to say with relatives. Family members were shocked at her loss, paying tribute on social networks to a ‘kind lady who loved her family, and was always there for them.’

Yulia Krasikova, 25. Yulia was a graduate of  St Petersburg Economic University, with a top grade, however she never wanted to be an economist. Yulia always dreamed of being an artist, spending much of her time drawing, covering her walls with her creations.

Yulia was on the verge of realising her dreams, due to receive her diploma in design from the Polytechnic University. To fund her studies, she worked in her speciality, as an economist, at the company “Marine Navigation Systems”.

Friends describe Yulia as a ‘very talented, a kind, very sweet girl, always read to help.‘ Yulia was looking forward to marrying her long-term boyfriend, Alexander.

Dmitry Mazanov, 27. Dmitry lived in Tosno, Leningrad area, and was in St Petersburg for work, on April 3rd.

Dima, who completed military service in his early 20s, was remembered by friends as a ‘good guy, kind, cheerful’. He had a two-year-old daughter, with whom he loved to play.

Maxim Vitalievich, 20. Maxim was from Kazakhstan, and on April 3rd was returning home after finishing studies for that day at the St Petersburg State Economic University. At 14:40, a blast tore through the carriage he was in (Maxim was himself near the suicide bomber) ending a young life friends described as ‘full of potential, everything was ahead for Maxim.’ 

Friends remember a ‘positive young man with a radiant smile. He loved to joke, had a great sense of humour. He was always there for you. He loved life.’


*Details of the 14th victim still to emerge.
** Over 50 were wounded

Garry Kasparov’s St Petersburg Block

I recently wrote an article criticising Garry Kasparov for using the recent St Petersburg Metro attack to promote his book. Before I tell you the reaction of Kasparov, let’s have a look at how he’s portrayed in western media:

Guardian: ‘pro-democracy activist’

 Washington Post: ‘pro-democracy activist’

Telegraph: ‘human rights campaigner’

CNBC ‘pro-democracy activist’ (again)…

So, what was the reaction of our ‘human rights’ campaigning, ‘pro-democracy’ activist’ to my article? He blocked me on Twitter.

So, just remember that, next time you see Garry Kasparov on western tv talking about the ‘totalitarian regime of Putin‘ etc etc…

Garry Kasparov and his St Petersburg Metro Attack Book Promotion

Like all of you, I grew up knowing Garry Kasparov as a chess grandmaster, perhaps the greatest chess player of all time. I generally followed his transition to outspoken, everywhere-on-western-media critic of Putin without any particular feeling, other than Garry Kasparovthat his main purpose seemed self promotion, and, having lived in New York, and Croatia, for years, he seemed out of touch with both the reality of Russia, and the lives / wishes of his fellow Russians.

There is also the fact that Kasparov very much has his own personal vendetta against president Putin, with his own political ambitions in Russia failing to get off the ground.  That 2007, and since then Kasparov has waged his own campaign against Putin, finding a friend in a western media more than sympathetic to having such a venerable figure to call on, whenever it suits their own agenda. And of course, anyone who remembers Kasparov and Deep Blue, knows he’s a man to harbour a grudge.

Indeed, the position of Kasparov, now a Croatian citizen even, can always be taken as a given – whatever Putin is for, he’s against, and vice versa. In 2013, he accused Russia’s FSB (by default, Putin) of covering up for the Boston bombers, he called the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics as ‘to Putin what the Berlin Olympics were to Hitler in 1936’.  He Garry Kasparov 1has been an active, constant opponent of Russian military action in Syria.  And Crimea for example, despite the people there emphatically voting to be a part of Russia in 2014, after a far-right, unelected government took power after the Euromaidan coup in UkraineKasparov supports Crimea being returned to Ukraine as soon as the ‘evil reign’ of Putin is over….

All of which you can agree or disagree with, and in any case, Kasparov, who champions himself as such, and is promoted by western media as a ‘pro-democarcy activist’, is entitled to his opinion.

But, whatever your politics, Kasparov’s reaction to Monday’s terror attack in St Petersburg, which killed 14, with over 50 wounded, was shocking.

Kasparov’s first tweet, shortly after his learning of the attack, on April 3rd, was bad enough, immediately blaming it on Putin before even the most preliminary of investigations had begun. But his second was truly shocking, even by his standards –

Using the attack to promote his book ‘Winter is Coming’. Really???? But, that’s exactly what it was, and no backing down from Kasparov either, as he continued tweeting in that vein –


A break came only when Kasparov announced that he was due to appear on CNN , to discuss the attack. However, he was back later, still on topic –


The St Petersburg metro attack –  for most, a horrific act of terror, a devastating tragedy. For Garry Kasparov, a handy excuse to continue his vendetta against Putin, and plug his book…

Explosion in Rostov…

This morning in Rostov, there was an explosion as a man up what looks to be a small flashlight, but is actually an explosive device –

The man (who was originally reported as being a school janitor, subsequently retracted), is reported as having his fingers blown off by the blast, which took place near a school, in the city in south of Russia.

The explosion took place at between 6.30-7am, Moscow time, with the man later identified as homeless, picking up a package to examine its contents, the flashlight detonating when he tried to switch it on.

Who planted it, or why, is currently unknown, and police are working on it.

I will be tweeting more about this, follow me here for updates.