Graham Phillips: People I’ve Interviewed

I very much enjoy doing interviews, and have been fortunate enough to interview many prominent people so far in my career. They include:

Sergey Aksyonov, Prime Minister of Crimea:

Natalya Poklonskaya, then prosecutor General of Crimea: 

Nikolai Azarov, former Prime Minister of Ukraine:

Eugene Roizman mayor of Etakerinburg:

And the list goes on!

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

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. 

Thoughts with St Petersburg…

With blasts on the St Petersburg Metro now reported as having killed a number quoted by many sources as 10, with some 30-50 woundedincluding children.

Video here, from the city’s central Sennaya Square Metro station, where more than one blast is reported as having gone off inside Metro carriages –

Along with you, I’m sure, I send my deepest condolences to St Petersburg. Many in London remember as yesterday the 2005 bombings on the tube system of our own city.

I’m fortunate to have been many times, and have many friends in the beautiful city of St Petersburg. Thoughts with everyone there at this terrible time.

Graham

2016 – A Quick Round-up, start of 2017 and on!

Graham Phillips

graham-phillipsI’m a completely crowdfunded correspondent, to make an ongoing donation to my work, the link is here. 

2016 was a year which saw some tragedies, some loved ones leave the world, so it’s difficult to describe the year, on a personal level, as anything other than tough.

However, on a working level, it was very productive. Hundreds of videos of reportage, more, several films, over 15 million views on my channel, many millions more on other channels, extensive exposure in worldwide media. These are some of the highlights. The year started in Donbass, with my preparing to leave Donbass, for a period in Russia, and on.

That period saw me go up to St Petersburg, where I had a holiday, then filmed reportage, and also worked on my first proper film, with Oleg Somov – Aramis.

St Petersburg was also where I recorded the video, setting my future out as a completely crowdfunded journalist

If I’m honest, I was worried, in January, if it would be possible to continue solely as a crowdfunded correspondent. After I parted company with Zvezda in early 2015, for the rest of 2015 I’d worked on such, modest earnings from my YouTube channel, and savings. Thanks to your support, however, I’ve been able, and am able to work on as a completely crowdfunded correspondent. 

Following St Petersburg, it was more reportage, and onto what was intended to be a period of several weeks filming reportage from the Baltics. In the event, it was only 3 days, as my asking people attending a march honouring a battalion which fought for the Nazis, why they were doing that, saw me arrested, deported, banned for three years.

This was the reportage I’d managed to film in Latvia, and Estonia, prior to that

The unexpected, unwelcome, turn of events saw me deported into Russia, with Latvian authorities actually lying to me, telling me I was also banned from Estonia and Lithuania, so Russia was the only option. It was onto Moscow, where I stayed for a few weeks, working out my next move, filming this reportage that has, across channels, accumulated well more than half a million views –

My interview with Doctor Liza, who tragically lost her life on Tu-154. May she rest in peace.

This reportage from Moscow, about Odessa, where I’d lived before the Ukraine conflict –

From finishing this, it was right down to Crimea, via the Savchenko trial. I stayed in Crimea for over a month, filming reportage, one of the highlights of this being my first interview with Natalia Poklonskaya, culminating in a crowdfunded film, Crimea: Victory Day 2016, again with Oleg Somov, combining footage from people all over Crimea into a unique film of how the celebration was marked across the peninsula.

I’d also filmed reportage in Crimea, this, from Evpatoria, asking people whether they wanted to be Russia, or Ukraine –

After Crimea, it was briefly back to Donbass, including a trip to the frontlines

And from here, back to the UK, where I began work on my crowdfunded project, of reportage about the upcoming referendum. As part of that project, I set off around Europe, highlights of that trip being reportage from the ‘jungle’ in Calais –

Interviewing Ukrainian football fans in Lille during Euro 2016

And returning to Latvia, despite the deportation, ban, to film more reportage from there –

There was also reportage from Denmark

From there, it was back to the UK, where I filmed extensive pre-Brexit reportage, there were around 100 videos in total, from Dundee, Birmingham, and London.

All of this reportage was generally well received, with hits often breaking out into the tens of thousands. However, it was post-Brexit that things really went big, with these videos. This one, of a conflict at the March for Europe, getting near 140,000 views, and featured across media, including the Huffington Post

While this one, of young anti-Brexit protester Hollie, has gained near 200,000 views, again featured across media, including the Express here

After completion of the Brexit reportage project, I travelled around Europe, filming about MH17, including a visit to propaganda agency Correctiv in Berlin, for work on a film due later this year. I filmed reportage in the Netherlands, about Theo van Gogh

I also filmed reportage in Germany, which turned out to be among my most popular of the year, including this reportage, my most popular of the year, street interviews in Munich, with over half a million views, rising by thousands each week

From there, it was back to the UK, and preparation for my crowdfunded film, a ‘A Brit (on his holidays) in Crimea’. That went very well, the film is due in June (I’ll be back in the UK filming more for it soon, then Crimea again) . I stayed on in Crimea to film some more reportage, this, on Crimean Tatars –

And this, about the Irishman who arrived when Crimea was Ukraine, but stayed (not technically legally) after it became Russia –

Here, asking Evpatoria residents how their city could be improved –

The most popular in terms of hits, with over 250,000, was my trip to the border between Crimea, and Ukraine –

There was also this film, about a day in Sevastopol! From there, it was a return to Donbass, and the months that followed have brought scores of videos of special reportage, including this look back to how war was in Lugansk in 2014, with the opening of a new memorial –

This trip to show you what it’s really like in a Donbass buffer zone, which is neither one country nor the other…

This special reportage, comprehensively debunking a BBC report, that there were ‘gulags’ in the Lugansk People’s Republic –

When Ukrainian shelling intensified in November, I was there to film is –

This reportage, of weapons made in the Lugansk People’s Republic, tested there

And this special reportage from School 60 in Lugansk, on which I’m still working on English subtitles for, with the help of one of my volunteers, Anastasia –

There was reportage on the OSCE – 

There were also, of course, scandals in that time, notably this one, from September, when I interviewed a Ukrainian terrorist –

Things really kicked off after this, with it getting considerable attention in the media, and Ukraine officially asking the UK to punish me. I also received thousands of comments online, messages of abuse, and death threats from ‘pro-Ukrainians’. What to say about this? I’m not interested in scandal, other people create it to suit their own ends. To me, it was standard reportage, I was glad when the fuss died down, and I could get on with work.

In November, I was pleased to start to bring you reportage in a different way, 360 degrees, giving you total control over the camera – this, a tour of a Donetsk building wrecked by Ukrainian shelling –

Here, Pervomaisk – 

This, exclusive, unique, totally unedited special reportage from Pervomaisk, in 360 –

As for war reportage, there were frequent trips to the frontline, with interviews, including this –

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-IkbCSXbTsyou]

Capturing Ukrainian forces heavy shelling by militia positions, in clear violation of Minsk –

Also, when it was possible (I’m banned from Ukraine, ‘freedom of press’ there etc), I interviewed Ukrainain soldiers, as here –

As for films, Oleg Somov (with whom I’ve worked on several projects together now) really worked to make this film about Kramatorsk, Victory Day, a masterpiece –

And, in full English, he did the same with the Jeff Monson Masterclass in Lugansk!

Before New Year in Donetsk, this was the reportage of the Christmas Tree opening –

My message to you on New Year – 

This was how the New Year was seen in, in Donetsk

In 2017, I’ve already been happy to bring you an exclusive documentary, about the Dutchman who’s been in Donbass all war –

And this most recent video, to mark 1000 days of war in Donbass

What more to expect from 2017? I’m leaving Donbass for a couple of months soon, with reportage to come from Russia, the UK, a special trip to Serbia, and more! There will be new videos on MH17 starting soon.

I’m extremely grateful, in 2016, for all the help in subtitles by the amazing Sergey Yermolayev, my amazing volunteer, from Latvia, living in Canada. More on him soon! In 2017, I’m looking to raise the game further still, with faster, and more subtitles!

I’m also always looking to make innovations to make my work better, more interesting for you. The most important thing – it’s always 100% objective, true reportage. And that’s all thanks to you, and your support!

We go on into 2017 together!

All the best! Graham

Dutch Journalist Michel Spekkers, and MH17 Confiscation in Netherlands, my Statement

Graham Phillips

michel-spekkersDutch journalist Michel Spekkers (pictured) has just returned to the Netherlands, after a week of working in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Upon his return into Schiphol airport, after having been contacted initially by, as I understand, the MH17 investigation team, after having tweeted about having removed items from the crash site, he was questioned by Dutch police, and all the MH17 items, plus equipment pertaining to his work – camera equipment, cards, even phone, was seized – against his will, naturally.

Michel has written about this on his Twitter account (in Dutch).

As I would with any journalist wanting to come to report the truth from Donbass, I helped Michel, and colleague, Stefan Beck, with advice on accreditation etc, and when they arrived here, we spent the first few days together – in Donetsk, and Lugansk, even seeing in the new year with Michel.

However, I didn’t go with them to the MH17 site, and I’m, to say the least, surprised, at Michel’s actions. It wasn’t something I was aware of until seeing his subsequent posts on Twitter, and reading the articles about this, it having caused a considerable scandal in the Netherlands. Had I been there, I would have been against this, in the strongest terms. I’ve spent some 75 hours on the MH17 site, and never once removed anything. One part, given to me by a homeowner (it had fallen on his home), I did everything to try to submit to the MH17 investigation, they didn’t want it.

I understand that Michel strongly felt, as many of us who have worked on MH17 do, that it is both inexplicable, and unacceptable, for parts, including personal items, to be on the site 2 1/2 years after the tragedy. I understand he wanted to contact the relatives, return such items as he felt were of value, submit what else could be, to DNA investigation.

However, whatever the intentions, I can’t support Michel’s actions here. I can, however, say that I worked with Michel, all around Europe, on my reportage trip in June of 2016 – he was a reliable colleague, a nice guy, we got through a few tough spots together, and I was happy to see him wish to come to report the truth from Donbass.

I believe Michel’s actions were those of a journalist in Donbass for the first time, at the MH17 site for the first time, overawed, wanting to do it all. And to add, Michel is a Dutchman, and this, the worst aviation catastrophe in his nation’s history.

I would also add that fellow Dutch journalist Jeroen Akkermans took multiple items from the crash site in 2014, and was applauded for doing so in his own country. I have written frequently in opposition to this, and my sentiments are the same in the situation of Michel Spekkers, despite our good working relatonship, friendship.

I can’t comment on the actions of the Dutch police, in terms of confiscating Michel’s items, against his will. However, Michel put himself in a position where he faced the police in a compromised position, due to his actions.

And it puts me in the position of, of course, defending a colleague with whom I’ve been through a fair bit with, had some beers with, done some important work with, but being unable to defend his actions in this instance.

I believe that, with an apology from Michel, and acknowledgement this was an error of judgement, this matter can be resolved without any considerable harm being done. There is no question in any way of his having ‘compromised’ the investigation etc, and I hope this will be a lesson Michel will learn from, and move forward.

Thoughts, as ever, with the victims of MH17, and their families, and loved ones.

An Open Letter to Donald Trump, on MH17

Dear Mr. Trump,

Your election has raised hopes that easing of tensions, between U.S. and Russia, and peacemaking in Europe in general is achievable. Settlement of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine and lifting the sanctions against Russia which is vital for the world community has a realistic chance now. With this in mind, there is also hope for a higher quality investigation into the disputed downing of MH17, as you expressed your doubts in an October 2015 interview, regarding the proof of Russian guilt:

“They say it wasn’t them. It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.“ (MSNBC)

mh17Indeed, we agree with you, we will never be sure, with the kind of investigation we have seen over the past two years. The official investigation of the “Dutch Safety Board“ (DSB) and the “Joint Investigation Team“(JIT) was neither independent nor convincing. This kind of investigation forms a huge burden particularly to the families who lost their loved ones in the downing of MH17. They need to know the truth.
WE ARE ASKING YOU, TO PLEASE PUSH FOR A NEW INVESTIGATION. This could happen within an international framework like the U.N. comprising the following aspects:

(1) A team of international, independent scientists who would be able to exclude veto power for any government. This exclusion of veto is especially important, due to the overwhelming role of one of the involved parties, Ukraine. The main source of information to the DSB and JIT used for their official investigations was SBU, the Ukrainian secret service.
(2) Keeping all scenarios on the table.
(3) Declassifying and releasing “available satellite images” claimed by Secretary of State, John Kerry, on 20th of July 2014; or (if not) disclaiming their existence.
(4) Conducting forensic examination of impact holes (for metal residues) in the MH17 wreckage and reproducing the same pattern of damage by shelling tests (as usually done in crime cases). Completing key information fields, such as body forensics, voice recorder, radar data etc.
(5) Prior construction of, a clear path to an international, objective trial in the U.N. framework with judges from countries which are not connected with the crash.

FURTHERMORE, WE ARE ASKING YOU TO PLEASE INITIATE PEACE TALKS WITH ALL PARTIES CONCERNED (including but not limited to Russia, Ukraine, and the EU) aiming at settling the dispute and establishing a reconstruction plan for Eastern Ukraine including the compensation of the MH17 families.

Thank you so much in advance, for your attention to this matter.
– Independent journalists & experts on MH17 –

* Media spokesman – Mr. Billy Six
e-mail Billy@six-newhagen.de
facebook BILLY SIX
tel. 0049 152 269 27 443

– MARK BARTALMAI, journalist & Ukraine documentaries producer, GERMANY
– DR. THIERRY BAUDET, journalist, publicist & initiator of Dutch referendum on EU/Ukraine association agreement, NETHERLANDS
– BERND BIEDERMANN, missile defense colonel ret., military attaché ret. & book author, GERMANY
– CHRISTOPHER BLACK, international criminal lawyer, CANADA
– NORBERT FLEISCHER, investigative journalist, GERMANY
– PROF. DR. ELMAR GIEMULLA, lawyer of German MH17 victims, GERMANY
– DR. HERMANN HAGENA, airforce general ret. & author of MH17 military study, GERMANY
– PROF. DSC. OTTO-FRIEDRICH HAGENA, physicist, GERMANY
– PETER HAISENKO, journalist, publisher & former “Lufthansa” pilot, GERMANY
– JOHN HELMER, longest-serving foreign correspondent in Russia, UNITED STATES
– FRANK HÖFER, journalist & film producer, GERMANY
– DIETER KLEEMANN, airforce colonel / trainer ret. & book author, GERMANY
– PATRICK LANCASTER, investigative journalist with 100s of hours on MH17 site from day one & U.S. Navy veteran, UNITED STATES
– DR. JAMES O´NEILL, barrister on human rights & geopolitical analyst, AUSTRALIA
– JOOST NIEMÖLLER, journalist & MH17 book author, NETHERLANDS
– GRAHAM PHILLIPS, investigative journalist, UNITED KINGDOM
– PROF. DR. KEES VAN DER PIJL, political scientist, peace activist & author, NETHERLANDS
– HECTOR REBAN, political analyst & blogger on MH17, NETHERLANDS
– NORBERT K. REISBERG, Lt.-Col. ret., airforce pilot ret. & military scientist, GERMANY
DAN SHEPPARD, private MH17 researcher, AUSTRALIA
– JOACHIM SIEGERIST, journalist, publisher & author, GERMANY
– BILLY SIX, investigative journalist & book author, GERMANY
– MAX VAN DER WERFF, blogger & private MH17 investigator, NETHERLANDS
– PROF. KAREL VAN WOLFEREN, journalist, political analyst & book author, NETHERLANDS
– MOHD AZAHAR ZANUDIN, technician, supplier for army/police & blogger on MH17, MALAYSIA