Redefining the War Correspondent – Part 2/2

IMG_7944I’m packing my stuff to go to frontline positions tomorrow. A core part of that stuff is camouflage gear. I’ll wear it, be filmed wearing it, any number of outraged Twitter users will inform me that ‘journalists shouldn’t wear ‘combat uniform” etc etc.

Yet where does this idea come from?

Well, there’s this, from the Geneva Conventions –

Now, journalists must not be deliberately targeted, detained, or otherwise mistreated any more than any other civilian.

This means that journalists now have an obligation to differentiate themselves from combatants by not wearing uniforms or openly carrying firearms.

It’s preceded by this –

The first, second and third Geneva Conventions extend to war correspondents all the protections due to combatants. They were not to be treated as spies and, even though their notebooks and film could be confiscated, they did not have to respond to interrogation. If they were sick or wounded, they must receive medical treatment and, if they were captured, they must be treated humanely.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where everyone played by Geneva Conventions rules, however the one we’re in is very far from that. Both times Ukrainian forces captured me they treated me as a spy, both times I was subject to interrogation and threats of death if I didn’t comply. I was treated far from Igor Kornelyukhumanely. The list goes on.

As for journalists not being targeted, with 6 journalists killed covering this conflict so far, there is evidence attesting that several of them were targeted because they were journalists. (Photo – Igor Kornelyuk) Meanwhile abduction of journalists by Kiev forces, illegal detention, illegal deportation has become a depressing commonplace.

1GrahamI first wore combat gear filming frontline action back in Lugansk in August, and did so on the instructions of the unit commander, Dushman, who explained to me directly that wearing regulation blue gear would draw extra attention to his men, put them in danger. Wearing a ‘press’ sign is ‘like a bullseye for the Ukrainian forces.’

I wore camouflage, and have since, with flak directed at me coming via social media rather than the battlefield. In the midst of the uproar, seems to be an entrenched belief that war correspondents have always demarked themselves from combatants.

Yet, this isn’t actually the case. A look at war correspondence in World War I informs – ‘Members of most World War I organizations such as the YMCA and Knights of Columbus, adopted uniforms that closely resembled army clothing, and some, such as newspaper correspondents, wore army uniforms.

And, from this engaging history of WWII war correspodence

1 correspondent1‘Any serious student of WWII must be aware that civilians in uniform, often close to the action, wrote the news. They went in unarmed and with both eyes open….

Yet, by WWII, things had changed somewhat ‘As the U.S. Army expanded in 1941 the new army regulations issued that year addressed what noncombatants should wear. AR 600-35, November 1941, prescribed media personnel have armbands with “the appropriate word” such as “correspondent,” “radio commentator,” and even “photographer messenger,” among others, in 1-1/4 inch high white block letters on a green, four-inch high brassard. The same regulation called for civilian employees, the second group, to have appropriate words in dark blue letters on a white background.’

1correspondent4Yet, evidence of the time shows these demarkations to be little worn –

There was, at this time, an armband with a ‘C’ to denote correspondent, however ‘While the green armband with a white letter ‘C’ was standard, and is outlined in several manuals, the photographic evidence supports it wasn’t worn very much except in official photos and in gatherings of higher-ranking officers.’

And even at this time, concerns about standing out from soldiers –

The Marine Corps had their own insignia as well, but the few correspondents serving with Navy or Marine units who wore insignia at all, appear to have almost exclusively used the USN patches. It has been noted that perhaps the correspondents in the Pacific feared standing out in a crowd due to concerns over the Japanese not taking their non-combatant status into account.

A different war, 70 years on, but the same issue. Is drawing attention to yourself a help or danger. And never mind yourself, if there’s any question of its being a danger, can you make the call to put the lives of the men you are with at risk. 1Graham1Soldiers taking a journalist to the frontline is a burden. It’s taking a non-combatant into a conflict situation. An enormous responsibility, a passenger, someone who has different priorities – theirs to kill and avoid being killed, a war correspondent to film the best action possible.

Why do they do it? A number of reasons. Because they like you, want to help you, because you’ve brought cigarrettes and coffee to the base and asked politely, because they want to be on tv, let their families and friends see them ok / in action, have their own YouTube video of themselves in combat.

But once they’ve done it, taken on the responsibility of a journalist, it’s your responsibility as a journalist to attract no extra danger to them. In this war, journalists have often been treated no differently to combatants by Ukrainian forces. I made the decision to take my chances on the battlefield dressed in camouflage, the lower visibility of this a far higher protection than the high visibility of press gear. You can be shot as a journalist or a ‘combatant’. If you’re in camouflage, it’s harder to see you to shoot.

War - Falklands ConflictAnd if World War Two seems a long way to be referencing back, here’s legendary journalist Max Hastings covering the Falkands War just 33 years ago, in camouflage, no press markings, winning ‘Journalist of the Year’ at the British press awards for his work there.

So let’s call ‘press’ markings and the supposed obligation to wear them what they are – a modern concept in war correspondence. Whether it endures will depend on whether it saves or kills more journalists. The doubt as to whether will ensure that wearing ‘press’ markings should always be regarded as personal choice.

66 journalists were killed in 2014. Who’s to judge the choice a journalist makes to stay alive?

By Graham, Part 1 here –

CNN Better Late Than Never…. Kind of

By Patrick Lancaster

CNN, it’s one thing to arrive way late at the scene (I filmed inside Donetsk airport new terminal on January 16th), “CNN goes inside destroyed Ukrainian airport“, but at least get your facts right.

Pro Ukraine forces have lost control of the Donetsk airport. After many months
Скриншот 03.02.2015 212515.bmpof the airport being the center and symbol of the intense war here in Donbass. The facts are that the Donetsk international airport has not been in normal operation and in fact has been a fierce battle field for over eight months since the 26th of May of last year.

In CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh piece it is reported that flights left Donetsk airport six months ago, and that fighting has only been going on there for six months. This is just not true. Maybe to some two months does not sound like a big deal. Well it is. People have died in this time. These facts will be studied in history books for years to come, and should be respected as such. Maybe if CNN would have given
more attention to this war they would have a better idea of the reality of what is going on here instead of just sending some people to do some war tourism for a couple of days.

The people here in Donetsk deserve the truth of what is happening here to get out to the world, not this –

Below you can find many of my reports and videos I have made on Donetsk airport in chronological order.

Follow my Youtube channel and on Twitter for more on Donetsk and how the war affects the people here.

Patrick Lancaster
Twitter @PLnewstoday

Zakharchenko and Plotnitsky First Joint Presser – 10 Key Points

Donetsk Today, 6:20-35pm

1confZakharchenko / Plotnitsky: The Minsk agreement has failed, Ukraine broke their promises, lied. Mobilisation has started, ‘we tried to reason with Poroshenko, but he broke all the agreements, now we will use force’

Plotnitsky: ‘Kiev has tried to crush our economy, destroy our homes. Russia has helped us, in times like this, we’ve seen who are our friends and enemies’

Zakharchenko: ‘We are still ready to reason, we are peaceful people, we ask for a representative from Kiev to come here, but they have to be serious talks.’

1conf2Plotnitsky: ‘By breaking all agreements, Kiev has the blood of all tragedies in Donbass on its hands. Poroshenko has lied countless times.’

Zakharchenko: ‘We have the upper hand now, Debaltseve is surrounded, but civilians are still being killed by Kiev forces. However the people here did not surrender last summer when this happened, they will never surrender.’

Zakharchenko: ‘They say I’m a ‘puppet of the Kremlin’, but then Poroshenko goes to the USA and then clearly does Obama’s biding’.

Zakharchenko: ‘We want Europe to open its eyes, we have played fair, kept our word, we are trying to create a fair state here, with rule of law.’

1conf3Zakharchenko: ‘Ukrainians are peaceful people, this war is not what they want, not good for them. They have been duped by the Kiev ‘junta’. Mothers, wives, think before sending your men here to fight, it’s not worth them dying for.’

Plotnitsky: To Ukrainian soldiers’ Turn around, go back home,  remember why you started Maidan – to overthrow oligarchy. The armies of DPR and LPR are ready to help you do this.’

1conf6Zakharchenko / Plotnitsky: ‘They call us ‘rebels’, actually we are freedom fighters, in some ways similar to the founding fathers of the USA, fighting for our homes, for our freedom.’

Despite mixed reports of their relationship, the two seemed to get on well, bantering in the end about offering the local ‘Miner’s Cake’ to Americans, to celebrate independence day.

С Днем Рождения Моторола!

1motor216 января 2015 года, армия ВСН укрепляет свои позиции в новом терминале донецкого аэропорта, я снимал там полчаса, когда обстановка начала накаляться, рядом был артобстрел, украинцы сейчас почти оттеснены от когда-то красивого, сейчас постапокалиптичного места, начали его обстрел. Дали команду уходить, быстро, а это сложно, там так много материала для съемки. Снова команда уходить, сильнее, я двинулся в сторону крытой парковки рядом с новым терминалом. Но не хочу уходить с места, откуда сказали уйти.

До этого момента, Арсений Павлов, известный во всем мире как Моторола (кличка от его позывного во время национальной службы), обычно очаровательный человек, здесь перестал быть таким и накричал на меня: «Грэм, убирайся, ты здесь не должен находиться, ты недавно был ранен, и при мне тебя не ранят снова!».

Команда была дана таким образом, что нельзя было отреагировать на неё никак иначе, кроме как послушно взобраться на ожидающий нас БТР. И в этом весь Моторола, человек, которого я знаю уже почти год, начиная со Славянска. Он любит шутить, во время так называемого перемирия, я записал несколько интервью с ним, делающим только это, например – как здесь–

1Motorola1Но как только дело доходит до серьезных вещей, этот человек, до войны поработавший на разных местах, как говорят, от спасателя и мойщика машин, до граверощика надгробий, превращается в грозного командира. Более того, он – это личность, которая перенесла испытания временем в этой войне, в ходе которой на сцене появлялось множество людей, становившихся знаменитыми, собиравших множество просмотров на Youtube, перед тем, как исчезнуть из поля зрения – как бывший мэр Славянска В.Пономарев, П.Губарев, Бабай и другие.

Моторола многое, пережил, выстоял, прошел путь от простого солдата в отряде самообороны / народного ополчения против сил Киева («повстанцы», как их предпочитает называть западная пресса). Придя по своей воле в Славянск (до этого был на демонстрациях в Харькове мотивированный сопротивлением антироссийским настроениям на 1motor1Майдане) принимал там участие в многочисленных сражениях. Моторола известный своей храбростью в бою в сочетании с харизмой дослужился до командира батальона. Название его батальона – Спарта.

Спарта- первый из батальонов, который был в аэропорту Донецка, благодаря которому украинские войска были отброшены, уступив территории. В этот же месяц Mоторола организовал взятие аэропорта, что стало, пожалуй, самым значимым символом войны

Помогла в этом и хорошая взаимовыручка с коллегами – командиром отряда ВСН “Сомали”, Гиви. Войска Новороссии вырвались вперед в сентябре, в октябре большая часть территории была уже у них.Старый IMG_0252-MOTIONтерминал – в ноябре, а с декабря до середины января – удерживали их, не смотря на волны атак украинской армии. Даже после прихода в декабре известного батальона “Восток”, бойцы Моторолы по-прежнему занимали там ключевые позиции. Бойцы – энергичные люди, добровольцы, в основном, местные. Но есть среди них и добровольцы из России, как и сам Моторола.

Конечно, были погибшие, я увидел Моторола после того, как мужчины погибли, не в том настроении, чтобы общаться с журналистами в эти времена, в смуту, гнев, обида. Раненых бойцов (Моторола ранен сам в ноябре) быстро эвакуировали, как правило, доставлен в больницу. Motorola имеет репутацию для ухода за своих людей, он это делает. Он имеет репутацию как джокер, и он может быть то, что (по украинским слухи о его смерти, он ответил мне на украинском ” если вы можете видеть меня, я жив’). Но, прежде всего, и все, чем он был до войны, он-воин. Более того, он внушает, что самая отдаленная вера, как в его мужчины и за его пределами, что, если этот парень будет на вашей стороне, вы находитесь на стороне победителя.

С днем рождения Моторола! 32 года и давай еще много лет!


Спасибо Большое за помощь – Люда Глова, Артём Исхаков, Нил Варг, Инесса Андрюхова, Татьяна Шендра,

Это было сыгранности из моих друзей Вконтакте

Happy Birthday Motorola!


It’s January 16th, 2015, NAF forces are consolidating their hold on the new terminal of Donetsk airport, I’ve filmed in there for half an hour when things get a bit hot, shelling is hitting near, the Ukrainians now near exiled from the once gleaming, 1motor2now post-apocalyptic site, having taken to shelling it. A command is given to get out, quick, it’s hard to do so, there’s just so much to film. The command comes again, stronger, I make a move to the covered parking over from the new terminal. But still don’t want to leave the site, requesting to go back.

Until this point, Arseniy Pavlov, known throughout the world as Motorola (nickname from his billet in signalling during national service), has been his usual charming self, but he draws a line here, shouting at me ‘Graham, get out, you shouldn’t even be here, you were wounded recently, you won’t get wounded again on my watch!‘.

The command was given in such a way as to brook no response other than obediently climb into the waiting APC. And in that, is a lot about Motorola, a man I’ve known for almost a year now, starting in Slavyansk. He loves to joke, in times of semi-ceasefire I’ve filmed several interviews of his doing just that – as here –

But when it comes down to business, the man who pre-war worked in a number of vocations, reportedly from lifeguard, car washer to gravestone etcher, is a formidable commander. More, he’s a personality who has stood the test of time 1Motorola1in a war which has seen many figures hit the scene, make waves, headlines, rack up YouTube hits, before fading from the centre of action – former Slavyansk mayor Ponomarev, Gubarev, Babay to name just a few.

Motorola has stood, endured, risen from a simple soldier in the self-defence forces / people’s militia anti-Kiev forces (‘rebels’ the favoured term of much western press). Having come of his own volition to Slavyansk (early on appearing at demos in Kharkov, motivated by a resistance to the anti-Russian sentiment of Maidan), taken part in numerous battles there before the order to withdraw, Motorola through his renowned bravery in battle 1motor1combined with charisma, rose to the rank of commander, commander of his own battalion, Sparta.

Sparta were the one battalion to remain constantly at Donetsk airport, as the Ukrainian forces were pushed back, ceding territory month-on-month as Motorola masterminded the taking of arguably the most significant symbol of the war. Helped by a close relationship with fellow commander Givi (of Somali battalion), Novorossiya forces surged forward from September, much of the territory in their hands by October, old terminal November, early December, the new terminal mid-January, holding it despite waves of Ukrainian attacks. Even with the highly respected IMG_0252-MOTIONVostok Battalion coming to the airport in December, it was still Motorola’s men holding the key positions there, a spirited bunch of volunteers, mostly local, some Russian (as Motorola himself).

Of course men were lost, I saw Motorola after men were lost, in no mood to talk to journalists at these times, in distemper, angry, hurt. Wounded fighters (Motorola wounded himself in November) quickly evacuated, tended, taken to hospital. Motorola has a reputation for caring for his men, he does that. He has a reputation as a joker, he can be that (upon Ukrainian rumours of his death, he answered me in Ukrainian ‘if you can see me, I’m alive’). But above all, and whatever he was before the war, he’s a warrior. More, he inspires that ultimate belief, both in his men and beyond, that if this guy is on your side, you’re on the winning side.

So, a Very Happy 32nd Birthday Motorola!