10 Reasons pro-Ukrainians don’t like me….

Graham Phillips

Anyone interacting with me on Twitter invariably finds themselves swamped by spammers levelling all sorts of abuse at me. These accounts are, as they would call themselves ‘pro-Ukrainian’. So, why don’t ‘pro-Ukrainians’ like me? Here are 10 reasons:

1. They want you to think that Euromaidan was the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ etc, but I reported the truth about Euromaidan – 

2. They can’t just claim my reportage is ‘Russian propaganda’ (as is their habit), without sounding a bit ridiculous. I had a short, fairly acrimonious relationship with RT in late 2013 to July 2014, did some work for the Zvezda channel until February 2015. So, for over 2 years, I’ve had no affiliations with any media outlet, from any country – my journalism is real, independent journalism.

3. I’ve been there from the start, reporting real information from places they wanted you to believe disinformation from . Euromaidan, Donbass, Crimea.

4. I’ve stayed with these places, bringing you the stories they don’t want you to see. The reality of Crimea (in which I’ve filmed hundreds of videos of reportage, made several films). I’ve extensively covered Donbass and told the story they don’t want you to know – Ukrainian killing has killed thousands of civilians there –

5. Almost no other western correspondent has reported any of the above. And ‘pro-Ukrainians’ are enraged that I have, and do.

6. People watch my workover 60 million views on my own YouTube channel alone, from almost every country in the world which has internet.

7. I produce a lot – over 4500 videos on my YouTube channel, plus articles, and more.

8. I’ve never been caught out in a lie, or fabrication. I don’t do that. There’s nothing to discredit my work.

9. The stakes are high. ‘Pro-Ukrainians’ want to present an unblemished image of their country, to speed their ‘European integration’, get more IMF funding, and on…

10. But, my work punctures that carefully constructed illusion of Ukraine. It reports the truth, just as it is. And, ‘pro-Ukrainians’ don’t like the truth. In fact many of them even loathe it. And if you’ve interacted with me on Twitter, they may well be trolling you now!

My University Years (Including Brandon Reed, ‘Gay stuff’ etc)

DundeeI see this come up, so as I go forward, with a wider western audience, of which I’m very appreciative, I’d like to be totally open about this, as with everything. I went to Dundee University between 1998 and 2001, majoring in philosophy, graduating in 2001 with a Masters of the Arts, BA degree.

In my time as uni, I got involved with student theatre, performing, and in 2000 put on a stand-up show at the Edinburgh Fringe ‘The Road from Dundee‘ with my friend Benni Esposito. Deciding to take stage names for this, Benni took Ben Darcy, and I came up with Brandon Reed, not exactly sure why, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Road from DundeeRoad from Dundee 1 Road from Dundee 2 Road from Dundee 3

Well, our show ‘Road from Dundee‘, done for a budget of about a hundred pounds, was a huge success, five-star reviews, packed houses even a little tour, media attention, and on. I probably got a bit caught up in this, started going under the name ‘Brandon Reed’ even, and planning on a future career in theatre, television. I even changed my name at Uni to this. You know, I was 21, took it seriously, etc, and actually all that even took, to, as I recall my slight surprise, was asking the secretary in the Dean’s office.

Graham Phillips Rather me than YouAnyway, come 2001 at the Edinburgh Fringe, I’d done my finals, decided I wanted to leave uni, move to London, in any case. And Benni had decided he didn’t want to be involved in the shows this year. I’d taken on a solo show, taking material from a trip all around the US in September of 2000, and had also decided to write, and take the lead role, in a 7-person-play. Youthful enthusiasm and all that – I’d stay up all night alternating between revising for finals, and writing my productions.

Well, how did they go? Not well at all, it must be said! Scathing reviews, sparse audiences, 2001’s fringe was a spectrum opposite of 2000. And it certainly brought a few things home, having watched a lot of other productions I realised, I’m no actor, and a career in the theatre was not to be for me. And Brandon Reed, yeah, that was also going to go the way of what everyone confused it for anyway ‘Brandon Lee‘.  It was over.

Road from Dundee GrahamI’d had an amazing 2000, putting on a play which had worked out really well, with my best friend. 2001, however, was the proverbial back to earth, with a bang, bringing a lot of things home in the process. I called Dundee University to ask if they could change my name back, but, too late, I’d sat my finals as Brandon Reed, so I graduated in that name – albeit with a special letter explaining that actually, I’m Graham Phillips. 

I moved to London in September of 2001, and while I continued to do a bit of stand-up for little while, it was more of a social thing than anything, new in London, getting out meeting people, and so on. I wound it down, and early 2003 saw my final ever performance. It just wasn’t for me, but I’d tried it, done it.

With the media industry laying off staff en masse at this time, I’d found it impossible to break into the journalism – at university I’d been accepted on a Benni Espositoprogramme by the Guardian, and had also started freelancing, writing several articles for the Scotsman newspaper – such as here, here, and here. I started a different career path, spending most of my working life in London at the (now defunct) COI. 

As for Benni, unfortunately there’s a sad end to that story, that got a bit worse years down the line. He was a hugely talented artist, had been in a successful band, a gifted writer, performer. And perhaps with all of that, creative DNA and all, a tendency to not always do things in moderation.

Anyway, as I say, he’d been my best friend at university, we put on shows together, did fun things like a project for David Hasselhoff to be rector of Dundee University –

Hasselhof Dundee Hasselhoff Dundee 1

Spoofed Morecambe and Wife for posters for upcoming shows –
Benni Graham

Got dressed up for show, fancy dress nights –

Benni Graham1 Graham Benni DundeeGraham Benni Dundee 1

We’d gone out chasing girls. Drunk too much, on occasion. Hitch-hiked. It was uni, it was young, it was fun.

Benni portraitI moved to London in 2001, as I say, and saw Benni then only intermittently over the years. Sadly, I saw Benni succumbing, rather than overcoming as he wanted to, to his vices. Whether this was a factor or not I can’t say, as his death, on January 3rd 2005, was from a long-standing medical condition. This portrait of him, the last, by Jackie Anderson. 

We’d kept in touch, seen each other just months before. His passing, at the age of only 33, was a huge shock to me, something I was sad about for a long time, still am if I think about it.

So, I was hardly gratified to see the Ukrainian gutter press splash all over a story in 2015 that I was ‘gay’ on the basis that they’d found online somwhere that old Morecambe and Wise photo of Benni and myself.

Screenshot (87)Not only is that claim totally incorrect, it was completely insensitive to the memory of my best friend. But, then, having decided I’m some sort of a ‘Kremlin propagandist‘, because they don’t like the news I report, I guess some people think they have the right to do anything, including attacking those who can no longer defend themselves, in the case of Benni.

It’s amoral, and I even consider it pretty inhumane, more so given the mass Benni and Grahamamount of rank homophobic abuse which was directed at me by ‘pro-Ukrainians’, call them as you will. However, I’m not going to go off screaming ‘infamy‘, I can take it, and I’m pretty sure Benni would have found it hilarious.

So, that’s that. And as for ‘Brandon Reed’ being brought up against me, I’m actually proud of the show we did ‘Road from Dundee‘. As for the rest, well, that was what told me that kind of career wasn’t for me, but I’d encourage anyone of 21, and not only, to try out a few things before deciding on what’s right for them!

Anyway, Benni mate, to you. And you can see more of Benni’s incredible paintings here.  All my uni photos here. 

Screenshot (88)

Stefan Huijboom – The True Story of a pro-Ukraine Dutch Conman

Graham Phillips – This is part of a series – Who’s Who in Ukraine Propaganda #4

stefan‘Some Dutch loser, like an extra from ‘Dude Where’s My Car’, and that was how Dutch journalist Stefan Huijboom (right) was introduced to me, by my long-term colleague in Donbass, Patrick Lancaster. This was late 2014, Huijboom had been on the scene earlier in Donetsk, summer of 2014.

I gave little, if any, thought to Huijboom until November of 2014 when I was wounded, and Huijboom started actively tweeting, gloating about that.

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Understandably, I wasn’t that impressed by this. But, as Patrick said ‘if you actually knew the guy, you wouldn’t bother, he’s a fool‘.  I never did meet Huijboom, but when he took to trolling me on Twitter, I responded to the Kyiv Post journalist, who had spent a lot of time in Donbass, always taking the pro-Kiev position. Again, as Patrick explained ‘Stefan didn’t care about that, he was only looking to make a name for himself‘.

A lot of time, he didn’t actually directly attack me on Twitter, using my handle, Stefan Huijboom (2)he’d just be mentioning me behind my bank, easily findable by a search, calling me a ‘Kremlin propagandist’, ‘idiot’, and so on. I paid little attention to these, having come to the conclusion that Huijboom was actually mentally impaired in some way. There seemed no other explanation for his articles – such as here, and here – and tweets (to make no mention of his series of odd selfies, pictured), which veered from reporting news in Donbass from a brazen ‘Euromaidan, pro-Ukraine’ position to bizarre non-sequiturs.

In August of 2014, we learn that Stefan had been woken up by a barking dog.

Fullscreen capture 12042016 161851.bmpIn November of 2014, we get updates from Stefan’s Kiev apartment, and the heating situation there (these just two, of many such tweets) –

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As for Donetsk, when he was there, and there was action, Stefan chose not to film that, rather record it on Soundcloud – from February 2015

Fullscreen capture 12042016 152854.bmpPerhaps we should be grateful for even a Soundcloud, as usually Stefan’s reports of explosions (no mention from his part, that this is Ukraine forces shelling the city of Donetsk, of course) were unaccompanied by any supporting evidence whatsoever (despite this, still forwarded on by news sources, albeit pro-Kiev ones) –

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What is Stefan doing as all these ‘explosions’ are hitting then? Seemingly, either getting his laptop fixed, or having some chocolate cake –

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March of 2015, and it was more laptop problems for Stefan –Fullscreen capture 12042016 192050.bmpWhen he gets out of his apartment, what does he see? Well, from February 12th, 2015, as war action intensified around Debaltsevo, with Donetsk itself still under shelling, Stefan broke the story of a ‘dog eating garbage’ –

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This, coupled with an inability to understand even the most basic things. In 2015, Stefan actually thought the ’06’ on this poster denoted ‘2006’, rather than June of the previous year, tweeting on a photo of the poster (which would be near 10 years old, by his estimations) –

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But what his his problem? Just not that bright? Or even alcohol-related? This, from May of 2015 –

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And off the ‘sauce’, onto sources, Stefan here, in March 2015, passes on what a ‘shopowner’ told him, in Donetsk –

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Here, it’s just ‘locals’ –

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How reliable Stefan’s local sources are though, is perhaps open to question, even by himself –

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Journalist Max Clarke, who knew Huijboom from their time together in Donetsk (pictured here with Huijboom, Patrick Lancaster, and another), Stefan Huijboom Patrick Max2014, tells me ‘There was always something just not right about Stefan. He never expressed any pro-Kiev sentiments in conversation, but his articles and tweets always came out relentlessly pro-Kiev. Then there was the money – he’d borrow money, and just not pay it back. 

There was a time we both had a conversation, in a cafe, about how we literally had no money. Next, Stefan ordered a giant ice-cream sundae. He knew full well that I’d have to pay for it, but that it would be almost the last money I had. Mutual friends were there, and laughed at that, said ‘he’s a child’. 

We’d tease Stefan at times, he couldn’t take it, would storm off in a tantrum. He stole money from me, from other friends, from the hostel he stayed at in Donetsk (the Red Cat), owned by a local family’

Despite all of this, Huijboom actually developed a decent career in the pro-Fullscreen capture 12042016 182355.bmpKiev media, becoming a prolific contributor to the Kyiv Post (Bio there –Stefan Huijboom is a Dutch journalist working for Algemeen Dagblad, The Post Online, and several Dutch radio shows. He has studied and lived two and a half years in the United States, and now he works as a journalist in post-Soviet countries. He regularly contributes to the Kyiv Post. He can be reached at stefanhuijboom@gmail.com) with headlines like ‘Donetsk university students getting ready to receive ‘worthless’ diplomas‘ ,’Arbitrary arrests in Russian-held Donetsk as city descends into anarchy‘ / ‘​In Russian-occupied Donetsk, debate heated over use of child soldiers in war against Ukraine‘ .

Not surprisingly, this kind of coverage led to Huijboom becoming an unpopular, if still minor figure in Donbass. Despite having been attacking me online for over Fullscreen capture 12042016 182638.bmp6 months, he wrote to me in July of 2015 about this –

Hi Graham,

I’ve been informed that the self-proclaimed authorities in Donetsk are no longer allowing me to work as a journalist in the Russian-separatist held territories. Tensions are growing out there as the self-proclaimed Ministry of Information requires (as also noted on the press accreditation) journalist to be “politically correct”.

Fullscreen capture 12042016 190313.bmpFor almost a year I’ve traveled regularly to Donetsk to write stories for Dutch news, KyivPost, and do radio talks. Some – like you – have accused me of producing pro-Kiev propaganda or that I might work for the Ukrainian government. Everything that concerns critical reporting is according to a lot of pro-Russian sympathisers “pro-Ukrainian propaganda”. You have said this a lot on social media, and have accused many other critical journalists of “pro-Ukraine propaganda”.

We might not share the same views as is okay in democratic countries, but in Donetsk it could have resulted in my arrest, or even worse. And I’m not the only one: you have brought a lot of other journalists in severe danger in a lawless region by only accusing them of being a “spy” or “pro-Ukraine”, as they were simply doing their job. I’d like to ask you: why? Why are you making false accusations against journalists whereas you yourself consider yourself a journalist …

I left Donetsk already for safety concerns, but I want to ask you a question. It would be appreciated if you could answer truthfully and not start a Twitter feud.

Are you aware of my “persona non grata” status now in Donetsk? I.e. what actions would they take would I go back there? I could always work there, and all of a sudden, after an article about censorship I wrote they are “looking for me” (quoted by my source). If you are aware of this, do you have anything to do with it, and do you know the exact reason why?

I wish you good luck and stay safe out there,

Stefan

Hi Graham,

Could you reply to this e-mail please?

Cheers, Stefan

Those emails, from July 29th, and 30th, when I didn’t immediately reply. I replied on the 31st –

Tell you what Stefan – why don’t you pay your debt to the Red Cat Hostel, pay your debt to Patrick, apologise to all the people of Donbass you’ve waged a PR war against, insulted, smeared, encouraged military action against, apologise for gloating when I was wounded by shrapnel, then I’ll answer you, you repellent little fucker. Graham

After that, he blocked me on Twitter, recently unblocking it would appear, and we’ve had little in the months since, though I do see he’s still been attacking me ‘behind my back‘, on Twitter, and when I was deported from Latvia, Huijboom tried to get me extradited to Ukraine –

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StefanHujThen, today, on the group for expats in Kiev, I read the following post

Friends!! MUST REPOST!!

Please be warned that the man in the pictures below, Stefan Huijboom, is a con-artist and a thief. I have known him for 2 years and am sad to say that the person I thought was my friend robbed me.
I allowed him to stay in my home for 7 days (Jan 26-Feb 3) this year while he looked for an apartment here in Kiev. During his stay 5,000UAH and $300 in cash went missing from my apartment. He was the only person I had over that week. I asked him to move out immediately and haven’t seen him since. I thought I was rid of a snake.

Stefan Huijboom2Yesterday I was notified by Bank of America that this guy is forging checks under my name. Stefan ran out of the stolen cash, I guess. He decided to stoop to the lowest low. $85,995.00 in forged checks claiming consultation from him?? For what?!? Let me consult you, Stefan Huijboom: Fraud results in imprisonment in federal prison.

This clown does this after having served 5 days in Lebanese jail January 2016 for credit card theft amounting in 800€. The victims in Lebanon are now in contact with me and can back up this story. I also have his prison release papers, although in Arabic, which he left at my house along with his suitcase. Had his previous victim created a post like this one for all of Stefan Huijboom’s friends to see I would have not been in this predicament.

Stefan Huijboom1You can’t deny facts, Stefan. Your handwriting, signatures, bank account information, and official bank stamps are proof for all to see…
He may even try to create a story that I am setting him up…as he told me before about other people and I believed him. I have no reason to set him up. I valued our friendship, I took him into my home and introduced him to all of my family.
You stole money from my child after having played dolls with her every night. SHAME ON YOU.

The banks, police, the Netherlands consulate, and your friends and family are notified. Good luck to you… It’s unfortunate you choose this kind of lifestyle for yourself.

Stefan Huijboom3I encourage anyone who has had a similar situation happen with Stefan Huijboom to come forward and share.

PLEASE SHARE THIS POST EVEN IF YOU DONT KNOW THIS GUY PERSONALLY. He travels all over the world and comes in contact with many unsuspecting people. I would hate for anything like this to happen to anyone else.

And following allegations were added below –

Tom Daams I knew him well, we travelled for a while together. I broke all communication with him roughly 1,5 years ago. He borrowed money from friends and never paid them back. He ‘lost’ camera equipment from friends and never cared Stefan Huijboom conabout it. He hired a friend of mine as a fixer and never paid him the amount they agreed on for his services. Last time I spoke with him he actually told me a couple of years back he robbed money his dad’s creditcard and got in a lot of trouble for that. Everything Yanka writes is completely believable in my opinion. Be aware of this man and share this with many friends, freelancers and fixers!
Last thing I heard from was that he is writing articles on a freelance base for the Dutch newspaper ‘Algemeen Dagblad’, AD in short. But this was around a year ago.
Be very wary of this person.

Eefje Dekker Unfortunately this guy has been stealing money since he was very Stefan Huijboom4young. He was in prison for 18 months in the Netherlands because of a huge fraud case. He still owes me 300 euro too from when he tried to ‘work’ as a journalist in the Middle East. Be warned, this guy is seriously ill.

And there we have it, the man who provided so much pro-Kiev news coverage from 2014 to date, not so much a journalist, as a career con artist, a thief, a liar. How has Huijboom himself responded to this? Initially he was ‘travelling’, then he issued a rather odd denial, and has been quiet for the past 9 hours.

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His guilt of this seems certain, there’s evidence of forged cheques even. And it’s clearly been going on for a long time. Now to the question, did the Kyiv Post, and other western media, turn a blind-eye to this just because he could be counted on to come out with pro-Kiev bylines?

The UK’s FCO – There to Help Immediately (if you’re the BBC)

Graham Phillips

As you may know, I was recently deported from Latvia, on March 16th/17th.

On March 19th, I raised this matter with the UK’s FCO (Supporting British nationals around the world through modern and efficient consular services.), subject line – Formal Complaint against Latvia – here are the emails –

Hello,

I was deported from Latvia on the night of March 16th, 17th, and banned for 3 years.

Graham Latvia3This is absolutely disgraceful, a complete breach of EU law –
– I had not committed, or been found guilty of any crime
– I was given no representation, nor any opportunity for representation
– The Latvian authorities were heavy-handed, and have attacked my
reputation via the media

I would like to make a complaint in the strongest terms, and pursue a claim for damages against the Latvian authorities.

Please take this up as a matter of urgency.

Graham Phillips

On March 24th, I heard back –

Dear Mr Phillips,

Thank you for your email. I am sorry to hear about the difficulties you encountered during your recent visit to Latvia. I hope this email finds you safe and well.

I can appreciate that you will have found the decision to deport you from Latvia frustrating but I should explain that the embassy is unable to intervene on your behalf in this matter. This is not out of any lack of interest or concern but because the decision on such matters lies with the Latvian government acting in its capacity as a sovereign state.

The Latvian government has established procedures for anyone who is unhappy with the decision taken to deport them. These should be set out in the information pack you will have received on your deportation. You may also find it helpful to UK FCOdiscuss your options with a lawyer who is able to advise you on local law so that you can consider taking action through legal channels including for your claim for damages. I attach to this email a list of English speaking lawyers who may be able to assist you.

You mentioned in your email that you were denied access to representation and that the Latvian authorities were heavy handed. In order for us to determine how we may be able to assist you with these complaints, it would help us greatly if you could provide us with further details. In particular:

Do you mean you were denied access to a lawyer? If so, could you please provide further details about the circumstances including when you made this request, how many times, to whom and the response you received?

Can you please explain further what you mean by “heavy-handed” and the circumstances in which the behaviour you are complaining about arose?
I look forward to receiving your reply to these questions.

Yours sincerely

Richard

Richard Koizumi
Deputy Head of Mission
British Embassy Riga

They ‘helpfully’ enclosed a list of lawyers, and as for the questions, I’ve been down this road before with the FCO, you answer the questions, it all leads to absolutely nothing.

I had a more pertinent question for them – this email to them from March 28th –

Before I answer your questions, Richard.

Judith Gough PoroshenkoCan you explain to me why, when in Ukraine last year, BBC journalists were banned from Ukraine, and the FCO immediately intervened, UK ambassador to Ukraine Judith Gough going personally to visit president Poroshenko – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34282136 – yet when I, a working journalist, but not for the BBC, get deported from Latvia – even an EU country, you tell me you can’t do anything about it?

Surely it should be one rule for all? The FCO either can get involved in the matters of a ‘sovereign state’, or it can’t. So, why did the FCO get involved in a similar matter in Ukraine, not even in the EU, but did nothing at all to help me in Latvia?

Yours, Graham

I’m still waiting to hear back from them, over a week later. That’s the UK’s FCO, they are there to help you if you get in trouble abroad*. *If you work for the BBC.

3 More Lies You’ll Hear about Me, Versus Reality, by Graham Phillips

Ahead of my going to the Baltics, Europe, and elsewhere to report, I’d just like to address a few points, before they come up, which, be sure, they will. This follows on from this article here.

Graham PhillipsWhat they Say: That I work for RT, was sacked by RT.
Why they Say It: They either want to have a go at me for working for RT, or supposedly being sacked by them. It all feeds into the idea the western media are keen to put out there that if a journalist works for RT, they are agents of the Russian government etc etc. Or, with the latter, that I’m supposedly such a ‘super-propagandist’, even RT sacked me. 
The Reality: I haven’t worked for RT for almost 2 years – July 2014 – and I wasn’t sacked. RT gave me the option of continuing working for them, outside of Donbass, or returning to Donbass and our working relationship ending, and I chose Donbass. 

What they Say: That, in May 2014, I stood on a tripwire, and claimed I was shot at (and even RT threw me under the bus)
Why they Say It:
 To attempt to damage my credibility as a reporter.
The Reality: There’s no question, that s a new correspondent, reporting in a situation which quickly escalated from conflict to war, I made a mistake here. And, as a new correspondent in the field, there can be some hard lessons to learn. However, my mistake wasn’t stepping on a tripwire, it was claiming something had Graham Phillips 1happened, my being shot at, which I hadn’t captured on camera.

It was a rookie error, and I learned a lot from it. Never report something you’ve not captured on camera. And never sensationalise – despite my seeing a soldier pick up a gun and hearing shots fired, I could only correctly say ‘shot at’, if they’d actually hit me. What I learned from this incident formed the basis of a career which has seen me cover more hotspots than perhaps any other western correspondent over the past 2 years (including my being wounded while reporting) – never sensationalise, only report what you’ve filmed.

This was May 2014, I continued working for RT until July of 2014. However, I wasn’t at all happy that RT initially changed their story to match the ‘tripwire’ version, before subsequently saying my version may be correct. I like, and watch, RT, have many good colleagues there, however have no plans to resume our working relationship, though we are on good terms and they always have my gratitude for the opportunity given to me.

What they Say: That I was a ‘sex tourist’, ‘sex blogger’ in Ukraine, wrote about my time with prostitutes etc.
Why they Say It: Try to show I’m not a real journalist etc, just a ‘sex blogger turned journalist’ etc. 
The Reality: I worked for a year at What’s On Magazine in Ukraine, writing about every subject connected to Ukraine, and life there (including articles on prostitution), and later, I did indeed write a blog on Ukraine. Indeed, around 10% of the articles were about subjects related to sex. I’ve written about prostitutes, and I’m Graham Phillips 2actually proud of all the articles I’ve written on the theme. I considered these valid subjects to research, and write about. At the time, they were. Now, it all seems a bit inconsequential, to be honest, but that’s the difference a war makes.

It was of its time, I’ve got no real plans to write more on the theme. But, I do believe these areas fall within the scope of valid journalism, Louis Theroux, for example, has done a lot on the theme, nor is he alone in that. But you could find almost as many articles about abandoned buildings (a subject of interest) on my former blog, as you could about ‘sex’ (and most of that was in the context of Ukraine as it was – ‘wife-hunting’ tours etc – of which Shaun Walker of the Guardian has written a book)! So I’m about as much of an ‘abandoned building blogger’ as a ‘sex blogger’, it just doesn’t quite have the same ring! If I threw myself a bit deeper into the subject than others – so be it, I try to do that with everything I cover!

And on we go!

Eliot Higgins of Bellingcat, Who is He? Everything You Need to Know…

This is part of the series, Who’s Who in Ukraine Propaganda (#3) 

Graham Phillips

In 2016, I’ll be returning to my country of the UK, and there’s a man I’d certainly like to meet for an interview. While I was working on the scene from the war in Eliot Higgins 2Donbass, Eliot Higgins, of Bellingcat, was the man sitting on a sofa taking, and manipulating, YouTube videos (including my own) of Donbass, MH17, Syria, using them to disseminate misinformation, lies, to the world.

However, he’s unlikely ever to agree to an interview with me, because, you see, Higgins, from the UK, born 1979, avoids sources who may raise uncomfortable questions much like critics have accused his work of avoiding basis in science, or fact (see below for more on that).

So, who exactly is Eliot Higgins? The man western media fawn over to the extent you may think it’s Eliot’s own mum writing the press, with headlines like ‘Putin’s Fullscreen capture 28022016 123353.bmpMH17 Nemesis‘ and ‘One-Man Intelligence Unit‘ (and that, enthusiastically promoted by the UK government in Ukraine, and not only them – US, Estonian government sources and more, open fans of his work).

Well, this is how a standard Eliot Higgins piece, and they are manifold, begins, in the western press – As rockets fell in Syria Eliot Higgins was asleep at his house 2,300 miles away, in Leicester. He woke a few hours later, roused his toddler daughter, Ela, and padded downstairs to make her porridge.’

That from the Telegraph, March 29th, 2014. Higgins affectionately portrayed as a kind of Winnie the Pooh meets a Beautiful Mind as he goes on to crack the enigma which had eluded the world etc etc.

Here, the Independent from January 18th, 2015 – 

Eliot Higgins 1‘Any of us can pause a YouTube video or find an old friend on Facebook. But only one man has used these simple online tools to expose the world’s darkest secrets. No wonder everyone from the police to Google wants a piece of the blogger from Leicester.’

Newsweek –  from June 2015 – 

‘Sipping a can of beer and devouring french fries in a Brussels hotel room, Eliot Higgins doesn’t look like the type to get involved in armed conflicts. The Englishman has a baby face, slumped shoulders and a soft Midlands accent. But over the past three years, the 36-year-old former administrator and obsessive gamer has spent hundreds of hours scouring the Internet to find out the truth about faraway wars – from the use of chemical weapons in Syria to Russian troops invading Ukraine – all from the comfort of his couch.’

But what if it’s not really like that, at all?

What if the ‘Founder of Bellingcat. Visiting research associate at King’s College London. Nonresident Senior Fellow – New Information Frontiers @AtlanticCouncil.‘ (his own Twitter description), isn’t really that?

Chauncey GardinerWhat if Eliot Higgins is, at best, a latter day Chauncey Gardiner , (pictured, the Peter Sellers character  from film ‘Being There’ who rose to success on the back of mental limitations mistaken for genius)? Or what if it’s even worse – what if Higgins is actually a liar, a faker, a fraud?

Let’s have a look at a 10 Higgins bullet-points –

Higgins is from Leicester in the UK, born in 1979, He never finished college, dropping out of the Southampton Institute of Higher Education. When asked for interview what he studied at university, his answer was , “Media . . . I think.”

He once worked as payments officer at a women’s underwear company. (“I’m more interested in lingerie than asylum seekers,”)In 2012, the hardcore online gamer (a World of Warcraft addict), Higgins was laid off from his job as an administrator at a non-profit providing housing for asylum seekers, turns to blogging, under the pseudonym ‘Brown Moses‘, from a Frank Zappa track.

Сredited, by some, with uncovering chemical weapons in Syria in 2013. Whether he actually did this, is the subject of debate (what he is documented as doing is agreeing to suppress information that the rebels had chemical weapons, Eliot Higgins Bellingcatand were behind chemical weapon attacks on Aleppo which had killed civilians). In any case, Higgins’ chemical weapons revelations were enthusiastically disseminated across western media, the US, UN, glowingly endorsed by western governments, but comprehensively debunked by Theodore Postol, a professor in the Science, Technology, and Global Security Working Group at MIT –

It’s clear and unambiguous this munition could not have come from Syrian government-controlled areas as the White House claimed.”

While the western media fell in love with tale of the ‘expert who exposed Syrian chemical weapons from his bedroom‘, other, real, experts (and Higgins has always been completely open about his lack of expertise) were less convinced. Higgins, Postol said,has done a very nice job collecting information on a website. As far as his analysis, it’s so lacking any analytical foundation it’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about.”

In January 2015, Bellingcat published a report into events in Mariupol, Ukraine, May 9th, 2014, when Ukrainian forces entered the city, opening fire, resulting in a death count given by Ukrainian sources as over 20, but by some sources as high as 100. Bellingcat took the figure down to 13. Despite video of Ukrainian forces opening fire on unarmed civilians, Bellingcat entirely exonerated them, described them as ‘acting with restraint’.

This exoneration of the actions of Ukrainian forces, and others of its kind, has allowed Eliot Higgins MH17western governments to continue their unconditional support for Ukraine, in the war in Donbass, without question.

Through 2015, Higgins’ Bellingcat rises to become one of the key agents in the MH17 investigation, with Higgins himself frequently trumpeting his appearances across the world’s media. This is despite Bellingcat’s frequently being caught out in fabrications – those MH17 videos which formed the bedrock of Bellingcat’s claims, comprehensively debunked here. Then there was the humiliation of Der Spiegel, one of Europe’s largest publications … issuing an apology for using Bellingcat’s work as a reliable source.  German image forensics expert Jens Kriese tore Bellingcat apart here –

‘From the perspective of forensics, the Bellingcat approach is not very robust. The core of what they are doing is based on so-called Error Level Analysis (ELA). The Bellingcatmethod is subjective and not based entirely on science. This is why there is not a single scientific paper that addresses it. Contrary to what Bellingcat claims, Error Level Analysis does not provide clear results.

The conclusion is always based on the perspective of humans, on their interpretation.’This, along with stringent criticism from a range of sources – from the ‘Off-Guardian‘ site -‘Even casual conversation with him reveals the embarrassing truth that his “research”, so lauded in the popular media, consists of entry-level computer skills and an awful lot of smoke-blowing. You or I or literally anyone over the age of seven with internet access could do it. If we thought it was worth while.’

The criticism hasn’t just been limited to text, this German satirical programme did a quite unerring take-off of Higgins –

Higgins is actually becoming rather an internet joke –

These have done the rounds –

Eliot Higgins internet joke Eliot Higgins

And just have a look on Twitter with the search #Bellingcrap

Higgins either vehemently hates, or has been told to hate Russia, and Russia’s president Putin. Have a look at his Twitter timeline, of some 127,000 tweets, and it can read at times like one man trolling an entire country. A stream, a barrage, of anti-Russian tweets, retweets, and Higgins doesn’t even try to hide that he despises Russia, or has been told to – this just from a quick ‘Russia‘ search of his recent tweets, and just a small sampling –Screen CapturesWith this taken into account, what conclusion was Higgins’ Bellingcat ever going to come to, apart from that it was Russia, indeed Putin himself, responsible for the tragic downing of MH17? And for the ‘expert’ on Donbass, Higgins has made his feelings similarly clear –Fullscreen capture 28022016 163501.bmp

Higgins hates RT now, never missing a chance to tear into them. Typical tweet –Fullscreen capture 28022016 145812.bmpBut, he used to be proud of their endorsement – this, from 2013 – a list of media he was happy to advertise his connection to.Screen Captures1 So what happened there? I’ve worked for RT, and will say this with all due respect, they are quite modest in the payment they offer. It’s not hard to find channels, and outlets, who pay a lot more.

In the early, Brown Moses, 
days, Higgins used to make frequent appeals for finances, with support links prominently displayed. However, the current Bellingcat site doesn’t even appear to have a ‘donate’ / ‘support’ option. And Fullscreen capture 28022016 154321.bmpBellingcat has grown to an operation which lists itself as being run by ‘eight volunteers’ but is clearly far in excess of that – a professional website which is updated sometimes with several articles a day, on which extensive research has been expended. But when it’s Bellingcat, all the evidence shows that the research is done to back up a conclusion already arrived at, rather than arrive at a conclusion based on research.

Higgins now works not from home, but from an office, in his hometown of Leicester. So where’s the money coming from for Bellingcat, clearly now an operation requiring considerable financial support?That’s unclear, Higgins has yet to publish any record of where the finance comes from, all the ‘About‘ section of the Bellingcat site says is -‘Bellingcat uses open source and social media investigation to investigate a variety of subjects, from Mexican drug lords to conflicts being fought across the world. Bellingcat brings together contributors who specialise in open source and social media investigation, and creates guides and case studies so others may learn to do the same.’

For a lot of people, it’s highly convenient that Eliot Higgins is an ‘expert’, and his agency Bellingcat taken seriously. This is a man who, with his agency Bellingcat, will absolutely always back the position of western governments, and powerful western organisations. And they’ll do whatever it takes to make sure Eliot Higgins expert 1he’s taken seriously, lay on all the the trappings, auspices of highbrow, on trend terms like ‘open source investigation’ and ‘error level analysis‘, be sure he’s given awards, plaudits, made a ‘fellow’, ‘expert’, at sympathetic organisations, appears at the right seminars, conferences, everything to apply the sheen of credibility.

When it comes to defending himself from criticism, Eliot is adept at deflecting criticism of himself onto the seemingly ‘too cool to criticise ‘open source investigation’, of which he is a leading practitioner. These tweets, from today, in response to his being told this article would be coming out –

Fullscreen capture 28022016 144044.bmpFullscreen capture 28022016 144338.bmp

Yet, what if behind the new, buzz ‘open source’ investigation of Higgins lies just plain old falsification?

This recent, absolutely comprehensive, article makes the point, one yet to have penetrated the public perception of ‘open source Fullscreen capture 28022016 152434.bmp
investigation’, that all this new jazz can be used as the respectable front for one of the oldest scams, falsification – see this tweet on the theme.

Creating social media accounts to post misinformation, free of all the source checks, verification of other sources as this is ‘citizen journalism’ and all things cool, which can’t be questioned because a lot of people don’t really know what they are. This, then passed off, and on, into Bellingcat, and up it goes higher into the food chain of mass media, unquestioned, unchecked.

So you can see why a lot of people really have an interest in making Eliot Higgins out to be an authority, a Fullscreen capture 28022016 153608.bmpreputed source, an expert. Have a look at his profile on the Atlantic Council site, an agency funded by governments across the world (25, no less), to promote their position under the guise of being a ‘think tank’. Higgins now works with them, and they call him ‘

Eliot Higgins – Nonresident Senior Fellow, New Information Frontiers, Future Europe Initiative, Expertise Topics, Digital Forensic Research and Open Source Intelligence.’

There’s a real convenience about Higgins. He’s positioned himself as one of the foremost exponents of the still-being-defined ‘open source’. Higgins himself has shaped and defined what we currently know as ‘open source investigation’. And he’s made one of the tenets of it never, ever, needing to go to the place in question.

Eliot Higgins expert

Higgins has never been near the MH17 site, Syria, or anywhere else on where he’s an apparent ‘expert’. Higgins may not go to any of the places he ‘investigates’, but he does travel the world being an ‘expert’ at various conferences, receiving awards – all of these used (and used by Higgins himself, who doesn’t shy from self-promotion , making extensive mention on Twitter of his own participation at conferences, using a photo from such for his profile) to propagate ‘Higgins, the expert.

It’s very handy for some people, having a guy who doesn’t need to be sent anywhere, who, from his sofa, can quickly come up with the conclusions so beloved of western press, and governments. He’s also clearly a hard worker, dogmatic, persistent, the man who used to spend endless hours gaming now happy to spend that time on Bellingcat ‘investigations’. Higgins took part in the official  MH17 investigation, and even boasted about knowing the result of the MH17 report before it was released – so sure was he, he even challenged me to a bet over it (I declined).

So, make your own mind up.

Who is Eliot Higgins, and Bellingcat, really? Are they indeed the experts the western media would have us believe? Or are we

Eliot Higgins Bellingcrapbeing stitched up by a man either of limited abilities plunged into the limelight, making the most of all that goes with it – fawning western media write ‘He often doesn’t finish sentences, as if his mind is racing elsewhere‘ – but could it be, that Higgins is actually rather simply rather a dim man, being used, and fine with that, by higher powers?

Or is Higgins actually an intelligent calculating individual, who has exploited the opportunity to make a name for himself, make a lot of money? One thing about Higgins is sure. He’s a liar. A conman. A charlatan. And whatever associations the name ‘Higgins’ and ‘Bellingcat’ have now, the future can surely only be these names associated with fabrication, fraud, a scam. All that will be debated, is whether Higgins is a latter-day Donald Crowhurst, a hapless man forced into a web of deceit, or a Bernie Madoff, who knew just what he was doing all along.

The 5 Main Lies You’ll Hear about Me, Versus Reality, by Graham Phillips

Ahead of my going to the Baltics, Europe, and elsewhere to report, I’d just like to address a few points, before they come up, which, be sure, they will. 

I know, there are certain things people say about me, will say about me. So I’ll quickly deal with What they Say, Why they Say It, and the Reality.

Graham Phillips SlavyanskWhat they Say: That I work for Russia’s FSB etc.
Why they Say It: They want to discredit my work in Donbass, which hasn’t fitted the narrative of western media, or governments. Those who write this nonsense know full well it’s not true. They are liars. 
The Reality: I have absolutely no connection, and never had, with any Russian agency or organisation. At the start of my career, I worked for a while with a couple of Russian channels (RT and Zvezda), that’s it. 

What they Say: That I took part in conflict in Donbass, ‘supported terrorists’, am myself a terrorist, etc. They’ll use photos like this – 

Graham Phillips shooting1Why they Say It: They want to discredit my work, get me arrested, get me killed – just all bad things.Graham Phillips shootingThe Reality: In 2014, at time of war in Donbass, I filmed quite a lot of training drills, and, always looking to get into the spirit of what I’m covering (within acceptable reasons), I took part in shooting practice. As I didn’t have my own Graham Phillips salutefatigues to wear, I was given fatigues to wear during some of this. 

As for the salute photo, on quiet day on the frontlines, some of the DPR fighters in Donbass were filming skits on their cameraphones, pretending to be Rambo. They asked me to take part in one, said it was just for personal use. So it got released on YouTube, which I wasn’t that happy about, but, it was just a 20-second bit of fun, and a bit silly on my part to take part, if I’m  honest. 

I never took part in conflict or combat of any time in Donbass, I’m a correspondent. An objective correspondent.

Graham Phillips medalWhat they Say: I got ‘given medals by Russia’, this means I work for their interests, have some sort of state endorsement.
Why they Say It: The usual – discredit my work, which they don’t like as it doesn’t fit their narrative.
The Reality: I do have one state award – from the Lugansk People’s Republic, for my work in covering events in Lugansk during the time of the blockade there in 2014. The other medals I’ve been given, by private individuals in Russia, as a token of gratitude for my work. They are simple ‘thank yous’, no state connection or bearing. But, see below. 

What they Say: I’m pro-Russian.
Why they Say It: Standard discreditation tactics. 
The Reality: It’s no secret that Russian people (as per the above) appreciate my work, more than, at this current time, people in my own country. However, I’m not IMG_0712‘pro-Russian’, or anything. I’m a proud British citizen, with no connection to any country, other than my own, and of my own, my own government have actually done what they can to obstruct my work in Donbass.

I like Russia, it’s a beautiful, friendly country, but I like a lot of countries, and none of that doesn’t register when it comes to my reporting, I’m only ‘pro’ reporting whatever the truth is, and fighting propaganda. 

Crimea filmingWhat they Say: I’m paid by Russia etc.
Why they Say It: All as above.
The Reality: No one pays me! I haven’t worked for any channel for over a year, and don’t want to either. Western channels can’t be trusted. And if I work for a Russian channel, it’s just used to discredit my work. 

I’m funded by crowdfunding, and my YouTube channel. I make a modest living, but don’t care about money. I live on the road, go to where the interesting news events are, and fight to get the truth out to the world. That’s my motivation.