⚡ 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

Administrative Notes on my YouTube Channel

A few administrative notes, about my YouTube channel. Last year, I received 2 ‘strikes’ against my channel from YouTube, for videos from 2014, Donbass, 18+ in content. Under threat of a potentially terminative third strike, I removed around 200 videos from my channel, 18+ in content, from the war in Donbass.

These videos are in my archive, and I publish them here on the Truth Speaker, when relevant.

Further to this, my YouTube channel has recently passed 100,000 subscribers, and from my end, there’s a real drive to ensure that every video there is real quality. Earlier, I used to use it as a video blog, put up all sorts, and lots of videos. In recent times I’ve gone through, and removed videos which are, to be blunt, just not up to the standard I want to see there now.

Now, I want to see there only reportage and films of real quality, which change the world.

For video-blogging, such as is, I upload videos here to the Truth Speaker, and social media.

Again, any videos removed are in my archive, and I publish them when, and if necessary.

That’s all

Anger, Condemnation: Boris Johnson, Catalonia, and Donbass

This week, on the fringes of the Conservative annual conference in Manchester, Uk Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cracked a joke about the Libyan city of Sirte, becoming the next Dubai if they could ‘clear the dead bodies away’. The remark, of course tasteless, and insensitive, and that’s Boris, drew anger, and condemnation from a number of sources:

On Sunday 1st October, violence in Catalonia by the Spanish police, aimed at crushing the independence referendum of that day which delivered a 90% ‘yes’ vote, resulted in around 900 injured. It resulted in a tidal wave of outrage, condemnation, and more – from the media, politicians, commentators, groups, Joey Barton – a sampling of that here – 

 

So the west can certainly condemn when it wants to. But the condemnation, and attention, in the case of Catalonia, from one day of beating, easily surpassed that directed at Donbass, for over 3 years of war there, and ongoing shelling of civilian areas, by Ukrainian forces.

In August of 2014, Ukrainian forces destroyed a truck carrying refugees fleeing from the war, killing at least 17 – mostly women and children –

I’ve written about that here:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/22/18-children-killed-by-ukrainian-war-crimes-in-donbass-1-marina-refugee-bus/

It was condemned by the US:

U.S. State Department condemns Ukraine convoy shelling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department condemned the deadly shelling of a convoy in eastern Ukraine on Monday that killed dozens of people,

but, but….

but said it could not confirm who was responsible for the attack.

This attack was 100%, clearly by Ukraine, who made no real attempt to even deny it. But, that’s ok, the west has got them covered. 

From October 2014 –  Ukraine crisis: Red Cross condemns Donetsk shelling

However, they only did this because one of their own members was killed. And they let Ukraine off the hook with the classic get out – ‘The rebels and the government blamed each other for the shelling.’

But look at January 2015, when shelling hit the city of Mariupol, in Donbass, killing arond 30 civilians. The OSCE were quick, not only to condemn:

OSCE Chief Monitor in Ukraine condemns Mariupol shelling as reckless, indiscriminate and disgraceful attack on innocent civilians, including women and children

Both sides indeed blamed each other for this. Evidence was presented to support both claims. Yet the OSCE just went ahead and blamed ‘the rebels’ –

OSCE mission report: Mariupol shelled from rebel-controlled territory

None of the ‘both sides blame each other’ here…

In February of this year, in a warzone, the OSCE – based in Kiev, and generally regarded as doing surveillance for Ukraine, pitched up near a Donbass block-post and attempted to fly their drone, without permission. They were told not to do that, as you can imagine in pretty strong terms, by DPR members.

This result in more condemnation: Ukraine conflict: US condemns threat to OSCE monitors

So, we can see, the west can condemn when it wants to. It can even condemn in Donbass. However, it only does so when one of their own is affected, or they can blame the ‘pro-Russian rebels’ for something.

As for Boris, no condemnation from him, for Catalonia, and of course not for Donbass. And due to the actions of Boris, there are more ‘dead bodies to clear away’, there.

However, no condemnation from the west for any of that.

(18+) Children Killed by Ukrainian War Crimes in Donbass (#1) Marina, Refugee Bus

By the most conservative estimates, over 100 children have been killed in the breakaway regions of Donbass, by Ukrainian military action. Yet, the west are silent on this. Why?

Is it because western governments are supporting this?

I am a British journalist, Graham Phillips, who has been covering the war in Donbass for over 3 years. In that time, sadly, I’ve covered the deaths of around 15 children, killed by Ukrainian military action, with many more wounded.

This is the first in a series, documenting children killed by the Ukrainian military.

On August 20th, 2014, mid-afternoon, Marina, 7, and her mother Natalya were queueing for humanitarian aid in the centre of a crisis-hit Lugansk.

Shelling, fired by Ukrainian forces from their positions at the nearby Lugansk airport, hit, seriously wounding Natalya, and blowing off Marina’s leg. A couple of days later, I filmed this interview with Natalya at a Lugansk hospital: full English subs –

Marina was in a coma at this time, she never emerged from that, dying the next morning.

In early September, the 2nd, 2014, I filmed the following scene, by the village of Khryaschuvate, a few kilometres outside of Lugansk. A refugee truck, destroyed on August 18th. Ukrainian forces had pulled over the truck at their blockpost. A member of the Lugansk People’s Militia was escorting the truck, with some 20 mostly women and children trying to flee war, on it.

Upon seeing the member of the people’s militia, Ukrainian forces immediately opened fire on the truck. This was the result, at least 17 killed, in their number, many children, as you can see –

Realising their mistake, the Ukrainian side told a strange, convoluted story about this one. On Tuesday the 19th, they were already declaring to the press that they’d ‘recovered 15 bodies’ from the fatal incident, while trying to blame it on the Lugansk People’s militia. Yet, some two weeks later, I found the above scene – in the meantime, Ukrainian forces had held positions right next to the destroyed truck, with the bodies of its victims scattered around:

Photos here:

These were to be the first, but sadly far from the last time I would see children killed by the Ukrainian military in Donbass. The series will continue.

Please, help to spread this, share this, so more people know the truth about Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass. 

Exclusive Interview with Commander Olhon about ‘Donbass Man Beaten to Death’ video

Graham Phillips

Perhaps like yourself, I saw for the first time yesterday, the graphic video of DPR Commander Olhon flailing a man tied to the beam of a gazebo, filmed October 2014. I spent a lot of time at that base in late 2014, and didn’t see anything like Fullscreen capture 13022016 143932.bmpthat. One day, I did hear that a guy on a bike had been taken in…

Anyway, I had a lot of questions for him. (His Vkontakte group, right)

Firstly, who is Olhon? Olhon was a volunteer in Donbass from mid-2014 until the end of 2015. A unit commander of Novorossiya forces, from Russia.

This interview with him is transcribed exactly as was written.

1. I remember, on the base there was a guy with a bicycle taken in, who had been passing information to the Ukrainians. Was this him?

Olhon2OlhonNo, the cyclist we sent to Gorlovka, brigade headquarters. This guy was a drug dealer, with previous convictions for drug trafficking and robbery, along with his associates he’d been organising the production and distribution of drugs in Enakievo, Zhdanovka and nearby towns.

2. Many say that the video looks very cruel – what do you think about this, and how it can be justified?

Olhon: When people came to me, ordinary people Zhdanovka and asked me to save them from the fact that open trade of drugs was taking place by them… When drug addicts, and dealers, are not only strung out, but also possessing firearms, it’s not only a disgrace, but also a real danger for the residents. I had no choice but to take down this system, and hard. 

Where I was deployed was calm, there wasn’t shelling day and night. But if any of my soldiers didn’t understand that alcohol and firearms never go together, and offended any locals, they were given the full treatment, before being kicked out of the unit!

Fullscreen capture 12022016 233540.bmp3. What happened to this guy? The ‘Troy’ battalion say that you “beat him to death?” (A story enthusiastically circulated by Ukrainian, and pro-Ukraine media)

Olhon: The so-called “Troy battalion” never took part in active service, but instead has been collecting dirt on others since 2014, even contacting those they were going to stitch up to try to worm in with them. This ‘gent’ who was captured was given a kick in the ass, immediately let go, weapons (2 automatic rifles, Kalashnikovs), drugs seized (later destroyed), told to dump all the rest, then they were told to keep out of our sight!

4. What do you think about this whole situation, the scandal of Troy (who have launched an active campaign against Olhon) – why all of this?

Olhon1Olhon: One reason, the over-reaching ambition of dilettante-imposter ‘Alibi’ (Troy commander), who’s doing whatever he can to make money from the war. That’s why he keeps on lying, it’s just theatre of the absurd. I’m not even talking about myself here, I’ll bring that up with him when we meet.

5. What are your plans for the future? (Olhon hasn’t been in the DPR for a couple of months).

Olhon: My plans for the future – first and foremost help civilians in need, and material support to fighters in need. Plus I have to improve my health and recover physically. Plus there are the former fighters, who need assistance of various kinds. Adjusting to civilian life and so on.