Almost exactly one year since this interview, after which I received thousands, really thousands of messages, comments, threats, death threats, a bounty put out to kill me, by Ukrainian government-backed Mirotvorets. It was shown to committees, governments, and more. What a fuss!
I’ve recently announced that the next period of my reportage takes me away from Donbass, where I’ve extensively covered for the past, over 3 years. It’s an interesting part of this, that somewhere along the line, some decided that I’m some sort of a ‘Russian propagandist’ –
Why some people have decided this? Well, I could say ‘I’m not sure’, and all that, but I know perfectly well. Because I didn’t report near universally ‘pro-Ukraine’ news – and in fact the bulk of my reports has always been letting people on the ground talk, and putting that out unedited.
As it happens, people on the ground simply didn’t say what those in the western, Ukrainian media wanted to hear. To make matters worse, because of this, Ukrainian authorities deported me and banned me from the country, depriving me of the opportunity to, for example, go to Lvov, or Kiev, and find ‘pro-Ukraine’ people there to interview.
As it was, in Donbass, over three years, I only found a very few pro-Ukrainians to interview in Donbass. It’s not that they were there and ‘didn’t want to be interviewed’, etc, it’s that they weren’t there. And why? Well, when Ukrainian military have relentlessly targeted civilian areas of Donbass with shelling, as they did, and do, here, Lugansk, 13th August 2014, result of Ukrainain shelling:
When masses of civilians have been killed, lost relatives, been maimed by Ukrainian shelling … that will quickly eliminate any lingering ‘pro-Ukraine’ sentiment among the populace.
However, when pro-Ukrainians were there to be filmed, I always filmed them. Looking over my videos, I found these, from the end of April 2014, Donetsk, before war began:
If there had been more pro-Ukrainians to film, I’dve filmed them. However, I clearly couldn’t find enough pro-Ukrainians for people not to label me a ‘pro-Russian’. My reportage over 3 years in Donbass entirely reflected the reality of the situation there – the vast majority of people there support their republics, the mood is pro-Russian.
An interview from Donetsk in June of this year:
The DPR Republic Day, in May:
People on the war-torn perimeters of Donetsk, December 2015:
Flag Day in the DPR, 2015 –
It could go on, and on, and on… and it doesn’t make me ‘pro-Russian’ for reporting that, it makes me a journalist.
By any measure though, as above, I did indeed record a lot of pro-Ukrainian interviews for such a ‘Russian propagandist’.
From early August, I could write a post every day ‘3 years ago’…. 3 years ago it was the Lugansk blockade. August of 2014, Lugansk was surrounded by Ukrainian forces, shelling and death every day.
We would be in the admin building, it would hit, there’d be an order to take shelter. Then, it would abate, you’d run to the scene, but so much shelling, you had to choose where to run. One day, August 20th, 2014, I ran one way, to a church hit by shelling –
– volunteers ran the other way.
Marina was 7, she had been put into a coma. I went to see her mother Nataliya in hospital afterwards, and she cried that her daughter, who loved dancing, would never dance again.
But Marina never even emerged from coma, she died the next morning.
The other day, I put a video on YouTube about the UK’s involvement in the Ukraine war.
After a couple of days, with the video getting thousands of hits – YouTube removed it. Why? For supposedly ‘violating their community guidelines’. Yet – all the video content on it, is already on YouTube, videos I uploaded some time ago.
So, removed from YouTube, here I present the full video for you – strictly 18+
What was Kiev like pre-Euromaidan? I lived there myself for 2 years, worked at a magazine in the city, knew the city well:
It was a good place to live, had cleaned its act up in the run up to Euro 2012, along with all the new infrastructure that had gone with that. Fancy hotels were opening, I even reviewed one on a gig, investment was rising. Things were fine.
What’s happened to Ukraine, post-Euromaidan? Economic collapse, national debt is rising, corruption is rising, corruption is institutionalised, Ukraine has become kind of a dumping-ground for ex-jihadists, can’t even get Ryanair to fly into it, economy run by ‘economic hitmen‘, has become either one of, or even the poorest country in Europe, health system in crisis, an unreformed penal system, a tuberculosis epidemic…
There are things like the ongoing farce with Saakashvili. He’s the governor of Odessa Poroshenko ally, then he’s not. Then he’s an opposition leader. Then he’s had his Ukrainian passport revoked. Then he’s in the USA telling everyone about how awful Ukraine is (but, Russia is ‘worse’, of course). Then he’s in Poland saying he’ll come and rescue Ukraine… it goes on, and on ….
And to add to that, Ukraine’s capital Kiev has now plunged into one of the 10 Least Liveable Cities in the World – Economist Intelligence Unit finds –
10. Kiev, Ukraine — 47.8/100 points. The capital of Kiev saw the biggest decline in terms of liveability — 21.4 points — of all 140 cities surveyed. It is the also the only European city in the 12 that scored below 50 points. The city is still in a recovery that remains under threat from unrest, economic instability, and the ongoing civil war taking place in the Donbass region.
Occupying the next places, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe. What does the UK’s LGBT-obsessed ambassador Judith Gough have to say to this? It’s hard to agree – I see that Kiev is getting better, not worse!
In diplomatic world, as ever, bad = good where Ukraine is concerned….
The UK followed up on getting it completely wrong about Euromaidan, with … getting it completely wrong about what happened in Crimea, in 2014.
Blanket support for Maidan, meant that the UK’s position was, from the start, against those in Crimea protesting against the coup in Kiev: Maidan – good. Against Maidan – bad. Went the UK’s thinking.
However, there was something interesting in this, the BBC, ever the faithful mouthpiece of the UK government in international affairs, actually veered from the Crimea narrative, in the early days. Fresh from blanket coverage of the sunny side of Maidan, beautiful / heroic protesters speaking about their desire for a ‘free Ukraine’, to ‘be Europeans’ etc etc –
…none of the molotov-hurling terrorists or acknowledgement that the east of the country was actively opposed to Maidan – the BBC’s Daniel Sandford (pictured) was down from Maidan, reporting from Crimea, on February 25th, 2014, that people there were ‘demanding Russian passports‘… ‘To the people of Sevastopol, it’s not a Ukrainian history, but a Russian one‘…. before adding the obligatory ‘if Russia wants to cause trouble (in Crimea), all the ingredients are there.’
Yet very quickly, even this tokenistic attempt at objectively from the BBC had been ‘corrected’, and their reporting had reverted to script, February 27th: Ukraine crisis: Russia warned against Crimea ‘aggression’
Out went the actually talking to people in Crimea, and by the way I was in Crimea myself at this time, finding people readily disposed to talking, and a very different picture to the one the BBC were depicting –
Over at the BBC, it was :
Cameron of course, later, a few days after the referendum, upped that to that the vote had taken place ‘under the barrel of a Kalashnikov‘. Ridiculous, of course, and even very silly. I was in Crimea, visiting polling stations, on the referendum day.
The BBC, ‘strangely’, nowhere to be seen on that day, an entirely calm, jubilant even, day, where Crimeans, en masse, headed for the polling stations –
Start of the day:
Street interviews with people in Simferopol:
Do these people really look like they’d need to be made to vote under the ‘barrel of a kalashnikov’? Was there any evidence at all of that at polling stations. Of course not, it was nonsense from the UK, who even admitted later they got it all wrong:
The British government was left in the dark during the Ukraine crisis because its diplomats can’t understand Russian
MPs says the lack of language skills in the Foreign Office is ‘alarming’
In the years since, neither language, or seemingly any other skills have improved at the Foreign Office. The UK have zoned in on the supposed ‘persecution’ of Crimean Tatars are the latest cause celebre of the day. I was in Crimea in 2016 filming the largest gathering of Crimean Tatars yet, at the Hiderlez festival –
Meanwhile the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine, LGBT obsessed Judith Gough – who’s never once been to Crimea in her time in the role, was tweeting this –
What does Boris do? Well, goes to Ukraine, meets up with Crimean Tatars in Kiev – who’ve been there for the past 3 years, making a comfortable living by speaking about how everything is dreadful in the Crimea they’ve not been to for over 3 years, and who their own people regard as traitors: (this, my interview with an actual Crimean Tatar leader, in Crimea):
Boris meets them, and mouths off a few buzzwords about ‘human rights’ etc, ‘Russian annexation of Crimea’ etc on his travels. There are clear signs of increasingly fewer people believing Boris, or the British position on Ukraine, and Crimea – however this doesn’t deter Britain from just blindly barrelling on with its pre-set polemic from a parallel reality.
What’s the problem then? Is it language skills? Is it mental skills? Or does the UK’s foreign policy bear a lot less relation to reality, than it does to UK business interests?
Whatever the reason, Britain’s policy on Crimea is mistaken, misguided, deceitful, and mired in the kind of blinkered small-mindedness which currently condemns the UK to the tier of second-league nations.
I’m not the only British person who finds this all deeply embarrassing.
The UK’s unconditional support of Euromaidan:
The UK’s involvement in the Ukraine war:
The UK won’t listen to a word about what Ukraine’s actually doing in Donbass:
The UK apply an outrageous double-standard about those Brits who took arms in the Ukraine war:
The UK are telling you absolute lies about Donbass: