Moving on From Donbass, And Staying with Donbass

I’ve been open about the fact, that the angle of my reportage for the next period is away from Donbass, and I won’t return to report there until after the World Cup 2018.

For the last few years, most of my work has been from Donbass up to the point where I feel that I’ve done as much as can, for the time being. I’d always planned to do projects connected to Russia in the run up to the World Cup 2018, and it’ll be that way. 
 
As for Donbass, there are excellent journalists reporting from there, in English – Patrick Lancaster of course, there’s Janus, and more – and I’ll do as much as possible to promote their work, and support Donbass in a humanitarian capacity. 
 
On my return to Donbass to report, I don’t plan to return to reportage from the frontlines – if there’s still war there, and of course I hope there won’t be. I’ve done that really a lot of times, had more close shaves than could ever really say. It’s time to call it a day on that, luck only lasts for so long. 
 
And I’ll look forward to my return to my Donbass, reporting from there later in 2018. There’s lots to come before that!

 

Fighting Censorship, and the Future of my 18+ Videos

I’ve written recently about the action YouTube have taken against me, for a Donbass video from 2014, showing the effects of war, and Ukrainian shelling of civilian areas:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/09/06/youtube-and-my-18-2-week-technical-break/

For the next 12 days of my ban from YouTube, there will be more articles here on the Truth Speaker. And, once I’m back uploading video reportage to my YouTube channel, things will be a bit different.

– There will be no further 18+ content on my YouTube channel.

Such 18+ content as there is, I’ll put here on the Truth Speaker, in the correct context as to when it was, and what it was.

On the Truth Speaker, my own site, I’m able to bring you reportage with no censor. And to make sure that it still reaches the audience it needs to, I’ll flag it up with a link on YouTube.

And of course, there’s always your help in liking, sharing, retweeting and more. Together, we’ll beat censorship, and get the truth out!

How the Western Press Got, and Get, it So, So Wrong on Crimea (A Brief Guide)

Where to begin? Well, where they began, with the BBC blasting in March 2014 –

Why is Crimea so dangerous?

Here’s a couple of my videos from Simferopol in March of 2014, where it was less dangerous, and more just friendly, and optimistic.

And the famous, ‘little green men’, of which we’ve read so much about in western press – here, of the time, March 2014 – 

“Little green men” or “Russian invaders”?BBC

Selfskies from the frontline: People of the Crimea pose up with the masked Russian invaders – Daily Mail

The Mail headline even by western press standards a mis-step, given that even the Telegraph of the time was writing (while rather amusingly referring to the city of Sevastopol as ‘Sebastopol’ throughout) – Ukraine crisis: ‘Polite people’ leading the silent invasion of the Crimea

Patrolling the streets with the leisurely but deliberate pace of British police constables on the beat, the men with machine guns in Ukraine appear to be there to show their presence − not to fight.

And in case you’re thinking the author of that, Roland Oliphant may have been partisan or something, his subsequent work shows all the standard western media memes on Crimea in place – from March of 2014 –

March 2014 – Ukraine crisis: On Crimea’s new border the Russian Army waits

Ukraine crisis: This is the de-facto annexation of Crimea

Since 2014, there has been a deliberate, and repeated conflation in western media of the ‘little green men’, and ‘self-defence forces’, with the aim being to make out that Crimea was ‘taken’ by ‘Russian forces’, and there was no such thing as ‘self-defence forces’.

The Daily Beast, from 2017 even –

LITTLE GREEN MEN

Putin’s Hidden Insurgency Tore Up Ukraine. Now It’s Coming for Your Inbox.

(Pictured, standard western portrayal of ‘little green men’ – here, BBC). 

Putin claimed ‘little green men’ in Crimea were pro-Russian locals. They were actually Russian forces laying groundwork for invasion—a playbook that’s taking over American media.

However, those of us who were here, know the difference. There were ‘little green men’, and this my GIF here, Crimea, March 2014 – 


They were clearly regular Russian troops, and with their black sea base, Russia was allowed to have 25,000 troops on Crimea. It was never a secret that these guys had been mobilised, so it’s a surprise when the west makes out it’s all surprised they’re Russian – Simon Ostrovsky of Vice, a key exponent of this. 

Yet, a couple of key points here. There were also local self-defence forces, clearly local, clearly not regular Russian military – my video here –

Both groups were perfectly approachable, filmable. And neither of them in any way played any kind of role in ‘forcing people to vote’ in 2014, as the west has led you to believe.

Ukraine crisis: David Cameron attacks Crimea vote ‘under barrel of a Kalashnikov

Britain warns Putin after ‘Kalashnikov referendum’ in Crimea

And on…

The subject of Crimean Tatars and the western press is so voluminous as to warrent its own entry, which will be. This touches on it, the Telegraph, October 2014 – 

Despair and euphoria in Crimea six months after Russian annexationDispatch: Tatars face campaign of repression after opposing annexation, while ethnic Russians rejoice at joining motherland

Other favourite themes in the western press are that building a bridge from one part of Russia to another is some sort of sinister and ominous act:

Two years after annexation, Putin seeks to bind Crimea by bridge to Russia – Reuters, 2015

Focus on the cost of the bridge, linking Russia’s mainland and Crimea:

Russia spends ‘fortune’ on bridge to Crimea –BBC, 2017

Predictions of doom –

PUTIN’S BRIDGE TO CRIMEA IS DOOMED TO COLLAPSE – Newsweek, 2017

Why Kerch May Prove a Bridge Too Far for Russia – Moscow Times, 2016

And the metaphors do go on, and on. 

A favourite new meme of the media is that someone things ‘aren’t going to plan’ with Crimea, it’s ‘not working out for Russia’, etc.

The Annexation of Crimea isn’t going as Planned – Foreign Policy, 2017 – in which there is a beyond tenuous linking of the trial of a Crimean Tatar extremist, and Crimea itself. A real stretch.

Lily Hyde: The annexation of Crimea isn’t going as planned

Another favourite, that Crimea is somehow, ‘hard to access’, is also a theme, see the BBC here, from 2017.

Do a search for flights to Crimea, from anywhere, on any search engine, see for yourself how many hundreds there are…

That Crimea is somehow ‘dangerous’, also a favourite Crimea-meme – even the UK’s official travel advice warns against visiting to Crimea and that ‘tensions remain high’…

Here we have leading New Zealand travel website Stuff.co.nz – in 2017 – telling us that active war is going in Crimea,

Fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian-backed armed separatists is common in both the eastern and southeastern regions of the Ukraine, more specifically, the regions of Donetsk oblast, Luhansk oblast, and Crimea. Civilians continue to get caught up in the fighting.

No kind of war ever took place in Crimea as it rejoined Russia in 2014. I’m in Crimea just now, and don’t take my word for how calm Crimea is just now – listen to some Ukrainains here:

However, one thing’s for sure, the information war wages around, and on Crimea, and the west have chosen their weapon – lies. 

Christopher Allen, KIA: A Journalist is a Journalist

I’ve written about the American journalist Christopher Allen, recently killed covering conflict in the South of Sudan, here, on the Truth Speaker:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/08/29/christopher-allen-remembering-a-fallen-journalist/

The South Sudan government has recently changed its story and now says it “regrets” the killing of an American freelance journalist, on Saturday, August 26th, sending its condolences to his family. Chris was killed by South Sudanese government forces while embedded with rebel forces loyal to Riek Machar in the South Sudan-Uganda border area of Kaya.

But initially, Information Minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei had said:

“Sixteen rebels, including a white rebel, were killed. The identity of that man is not known, but he was among the rebels who attacked the garrison.” Then, Makuei changed the narrative, saying Allen was killed in the cross-fire as government troops fought to repulse the rebels.

Yet, Chris was shot in the head, and at pretty close range, by Sudan government forces. This wasn’t ‘caught in the crossfire’, etc, someone saw Chris, and shot him in the head…

A rebel spokesman said that Chris (a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, who began his journalistic career in Ukraine, 2014) was wearing a clearly marked press vest, and had been shot at after he began to take pictures.  “Allen was targeted. The person who shot saw him very clearly,” Colonel Paul Lam Gabriel told the AFP.

Sudan’s government have said Allen was “not targeted” and that the government regretted it, but added that “anybody on that side is usually a target. Mr Makuei claimed Allen had entered South Sudan illegally after being denied a visa “because of his hostile reports.” I could find no evidence of his ‘hostile reports’.

They further added  “If Allen entered South Sudan illegally then he is a criminal,” said Mr Makuei. “Had he not died we would have apprehended him and taken him to the court.” (Note: Chris apparently entered South Sudan through Kampala. About 20 other journalists also were denied entry into the country by South Sudan’s Media Authority in May and June.) And that “that if Allen was reporting “on the activities of the rebels then definitely he was a rebel.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists has said in a statement it was “deeply troubled” by the suggestion Allen was not deserving of civilian status and called for an independent investigation into the circumstances of his death. His parents support this investigation, adding: 

“We respect and admire our son, whose unyielding passion for journalism was driven by his desire to tell some of the world’s most critical stories. As loving parents, we were fearful whenever he entered a war zone and our hearts sank when we learned he was going to South Sudan. Yet Christopher was a truth seeker, committed to uncovering the full context of the stories he reported even when this required personal risk. His research was firsthand and thorough, and he cared deeply about the real people involved in and affected by conflict.

We are devastated by the loss of our beloved son and cannot begin to imagine our lives without him. Like Christopher, we believe access to information is fundamental to a free and thriving society and we must continue to protect journalists in order to maintain press freedom in the United States and across the globe. Just as Christopher sought the truth of the tragedies and difficulties of others, we will now work to establish the truth of the circumstances of his killing.”

More than one million people have fled into neighbouring Uganda since civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, creating one of the world’s biggest refugee crises.

Ten journalists have been killed in South Sudan since 2012. My own view is that whether or not Chris was wearing a ‘press’ vest is unimportant. He was clearly not a combatant. He was clearly a journalist, doing the job of a journalist, reporting from the scene. South Sudan have ruled out a probe into Chris’ death. 

I remember this tweet Chris sent me, when I was in the Lugansk blockade of 2014, Donbass.

And I’ll remember Chris Allen as a brave man, a journalist, unjustly killed, trying to bring us the truth. Respect, and RIP Chris.

YouTube and my 18+ 2-Week ‘Technical Break’

Sorry to say I won’t be able to bring you any video reportage for the next 2 weeks. YouTube have penalised me twice in two weeks – for old videos from the Donbass war.

The videos were indeed 18+ but that’s war, sadly, and they’d been on my channel for a long time, marked as 18+. So, why now?
 
Well, I don’t know, but if I get one more strike against my channel, YouTube will terminate my account, deleting the near 5000 videos there. And, it’s YouTube, they do that.
 
I’ve also got a 2 week ban from posting video material. Of course, I could post it elsewhere, but it never has the same impact, good reportage gets lost. Better to focus all attention, energy, on doing even better reportage after the return!
 
I’ve now removed all 18+ material from my YouTube account, so there should be no further problems after this 2-week period, the first of its kind in near 4 years.
 
As for the 18+ videos, I’ve saved them all, and will think what best to do with them.

Every Day Can’t be Three Years Ago… Remembering the Donbass War in 2014

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.

We convened after, compared notes. What did you see? My church up in flames. Them, a mother and daughter waiting for humanitarian aid when Ukrainian shelling had hit them. One of the volunteers had to take the wounded mother to safety, one of them get her daughter, and the other pick up her daughter’s leg, which had been blown off.

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.

There are a lot of these kind of memories. And what happened must never be forgotten. But, as a person, of course, it’s difficult, emotionally, to think about them. I try to strike a balance between going forward, and also, so that these things are not forgotten.
3 years ago, the liberation of a lot of places in the LPR, I then head from Lugansk to Stakhanov, then to Donetsk. Motorola, Givi, Donetsk airport … a lot of adrenalin, but also a lot of shelling, a lot of death.
A lot of things which need to be remembered, but are hard to remember. Every day can’t be 3 years ago