UK Ambassador Judith Gough: Having a Gay Time in Ukraine, while War in Donbass Goes On

The UK has had a particularly poor record with recent ambassadors to Ukraine. Simon Smith, in position between 2012 and 15, showed little real interest in the position, and his contribution amounted to little more than mouthing along with, and retweeting handed-down rhetoric:

Smith’s farewell tweet in September of 2015 gathered a paltry 25 retweets as he slipped out of position, just as he’d generally slipped under the radar in his weak, prematurely ended tenure –

Smith, who had clearly just been punching his timecard, was replaced by Judith Gough, (Wikipedia): born 1972, educated at the University of Nottingham (BA German and Russian, 1995) and at King’s College London (MA War in Modern World, 2012). She then worked as a Consultant in Emerging Markets and Financial Services at Ernst and Young.

Gough joined the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2001. Gough then served at the British embassy in South KoreaStarting from mid-September 2010 she was Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Republic of Georgia, and served as such till she was released of her post early 2013.

She then became FCO’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

In September 2015 Gough was appointed Ambassador of the United Kingdom in Ukraine.

Gough is openly lesbian and raises two children with her partner, Julia Kleiousi.

Gough began her tenure, in September 2015, with a tweet clearly meant to show that a stronger, more forceful player was in town:

And she’s continued in that vein. Endless tweets, retweets (as here) about Crimea, how it’s ‘Ukraine’ and everything there is ‘worsening’ etc etc – despite making no effort herself to ever actually visit Crimea, which she freely could.

Of course, the retweets about Boris Johnson and his parroting of ‘Russian aggression’ – 

Endless tweets about the ‘heroism of Maidan’ –

And Gough loudly trumpets UK and Ukrainian military cooperation, tweeting this out last month –

Gough is indeed very hawkish about UK / Ukraine military cooperation, and the UK’s recent pledge to increase that, tweeting on at every opportunity. 

What Judith doesn’t tweet: 

Anything about Ukraine’s ongoing shelling of civilian areas of Donbass

Anything about the general disorder in Ukraine, actions of the far-right, radicals, and so on. About this recently in Lvov, for example: Vandals Caught On Video Drawing Swastikas On Ukraine Holocaust Memorial

Nothing about that on Judith’s feed. And while the Campaign for the Protection of Journalists was writing criticising Ukraine for the lack of any result in the investigation into the murder of Pavel Sheremet, on July 12th, Judith was tweeting:

Gough, perhaps predictably, tweets lots about reform. Yet, it’s clear that neither ‘reform’ in Ukraine, nor recycling of endless anti-Russian propaganda is what really interests the 44-year-old is a theme closer to home. Judith clearly sees herself, as the UK’s first openly gay international diplomat, as a crusading figure for openly gay people in senior positions, a perception perpetuated by puff pieces such as this March 2016, adoring interview by Buzzfeed.

All of which would be fine, and wonderful, if Judith were doing a good job, which she’s not. At best, she’s just passing on UK propaganda. But worse, her aggressive tweets of stepped up UK military intervention push peace further from the agenda. And more’s the argument that Gough’s sexuality is perhaps not paramount in her position as ambassador to a country locked in ongoing civil war. Yet, since June 1st, Judith has tweeted, retweeted, over 15 times about issues relating to LGBT, but only 3 about Donbass….

Putting her LGBT activism to one side, looking through Gough’s Twitter, it’s clear that she’s fallen victim to the standard ambassadorial pitfall – virtue signalling charity events at the ambassador’s residence, in Kiev, from July 19th –

In fairness to Gough, in June she did actually visit Kramatorsk, Donbass, yet there’s no indication she spoke to anyone there, other than the inevitable NGO’s –

Before publishing this, I had a final look at Gough’s Twitter feed. Her last tweet was 2 days ago, a retweet:

Gough’s homosexuality and accent on that may actually be a blessing, as her focus on LGBT activism at least limits the harm she is doing in her position as UK ambassador to Ukraine.  Yet when history is written, it’s hard to believe that even the LGBT community will review Gough kindly. 

My Donbass, Crimea Crowdfunding Campaign – Last Chance to be Involved

As you know, all my journalism is completely crowdfunded, independent.

There’s only a few days of this campaign left, for journalism from Donbass, and Crimea, and still a way to go to meet target, to cover costs of all the independent, objective journalism I do, with your support – video reports, films, articles, and more!

I ask, please can you – support, or share –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/next-period-of-reportage-donbass-crimea-more-russia/x/12236308#/

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

Thanks again for being with me!

Graham

(Support) Patrick Lancaster in Crimea

American journalist, known for his years of Donbass coverage, Patrick Lancaster has gone to Crimea for an exciting reportage project.  Here’s his video introducing the project

You can support Patrick’s work here via crowdfunding –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/next-period-of-reportage-donbass-crimea-more-russia/x/12236308#/

And Patrick’s first report here, from Sevastopol, with more coming up soon – 

10 Pieces of Real Travel Advice for Visiting Crimea

Ok, I’ve spent months in Crimea since it became Russia again, in 2014, and filmed hundreds of videos of reportage. Based on the fact that it reflected the will of the vast majority of Crimeans, after the fall-out from Euromaidan in Ukraine, I recognised, and Graham Phillips Crimeasupport Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

However, this it not a political piece. There’s a mass of information online about Crimea, and much of it is clear false information, warnings about the ‘dangers’ of visiting Crimea ‘annexation’, ‘occupation’, and so on.

Crimea is one of the world’s most beautiful places to visit, and I know given the amount of people contacting me, more people are indeed looking to visit it. However, it’s in quite a unique position, and there are a few considerations, so, here we go, with 10 things you’ll need to know (written presuming you’re a western person.

1. There are no cash machines which take western cards. So you’ll need to take all the money for your trip with you. The last cash machine is at Krasnoarmeiski, before you get the ferry, but, you’d be best off stocking up on wedge before that.

2. Due to sanctions, some things don’t work in Crimea. If you have a UK, EU number you may well find it cannot connect to a roaming service, so you’ll need to purchase a number in Crimea. Crimea has its own phone network, separate from mainland Russia, Crimeastreet2so, you’ll need to purchase a local MTS card. There’s 3G, even some 4G. All internet sites work as normal, and you can even use main booking sites to book apartments, hotels in Crimea. All the apps you have should work, but there may be an issue downloading new ones, you can use your credit card to book things online there – all good.

3. Don’t even think of going to Crimea via Ukraine, as is the official advise. It’s a nonsense. Kiev have to ‘give you permission’, but you still need a Russian visa, and more, have to pass through the Ukrainian ‘blockpost border’, adding hassle, stress, and perhaps other. Get a single-entry Russian visa, and you can book a flight to Simferopol airport!

4. It’s better to put what you’ve read in the western press, by western governments out of your mind before you enter Crimea. You can find people there who will freely tell you that they are ‘pro-Ukrainian’, and want to be with Ukraine again. But, they’re a small minority. You can find a lot of people who generally would like Crimea to be as prosperous as it previously was, but speak to people there and you’ll see for yourself that the vast majority of Crimeans supported, and support reunification with Russia.

There’s no sign of tension, or repression of Crimean Tatars. You will come across many in your travels in Crimea. Crimean Tatars are, in my experience, a warm, friendly people. A lot of restaurants are Crimean Tatar, they run many businesses. Speak to them, ask them yourselves how life is for them. You will hear different opinions, some for Russia, some for Ukraine (though again, a minority), many non-political and simply for whatever will give them the best quality of life.

5. You will find people in Crimea who speak excellent English, and many have some level of English. However, it’s by no means universal, and at this moment in time you could even say that Crimea is not especially orientated towards English-speaking visitors. Not every restaurant will have an English-language menu, and while your waiter may well speak English, it’s not a guarantee. Speaking some Russian, or having a Russian-speaking friend with you, would definitely help.

6. Despite the political tensions between the west, and Crimea, I’ve never encountered, or heard of any problems encountered by western visitors because of where they come from. On the contrary, Crimeans are more than likely to roll out the red carpet for a western visitor. Most tourists there are from Russia, and actually many have come to Crimea for the first time. In my experience, you’ll also find them of a friendly disposure towards you!

7. Despite what governments etc try to insinuate, you are not breaking any laws by visiting Crimea, with the exception of Ukrainian law. So if you go to Crimea, and post selfies from there etc, then you may have some issues if you try to visit Ukraine, but, that’s all. You’ll have no stamp in your passport other than a Russian one. You’ve broken no laws, apart from ‘Ukrainian laws’, whatever they are these days.

Graham Crimea reportage8. Prices in Crimea are pretty much what they are on mainland Russia. For a UK visitor, you’ll get around 70-75 roubles to the pound now, down from a year ago, but it still makes Crimea a comparatively inexpensive tourist destination. A beer by the beach for £1.50, sit-down lunch in a seaview restaurant for less than £5 all do-able, even in Yalta at peak season. There are pricier ‘tourist traps’, and that goes back to the above, that it’s better to know some Russian!

9. If you’re driving, you’ll see a massive ‘road rehabilitation’ project going on (and there’s actually infrastructure being upgraded everywhere), but it’s not reached everywhere yet, so on some roads, get ready for a bumpy ride. If you drive there in summer, you could be in line for a few hours wait for the 25-minute ferry crossing. And in Crimea itself, particularly Yalta, traffic can be heavy at peak times.

Crimea in general, some of it is ‘Russian standard’ – ie what you’d find in Russia, infrastructure etc to a high level. Quite a lot is still ‘Ukrainian standard’, no offence, but you get the idea. This ferry video, btw, in Russian, but again, sure you’ll get the idea –

10. There really is an incredible amount of things to do in Crimea. You can have a beach holiday in Yalta, Koktobel or if you want a sandy beach, Evpatoria. There are vineyards, safari parks, palaces, mountains, festivals, epic open-air museums, bike shows, concerts, there’s the black sea fleet of Sevastopol, always something happening by the waterfront or in the square there, Yalta is absolutely buzzing, Balaklava is mind-blowingly beautiful, Taigan is the best safari park you could ever visit… where to base Graham Crimeayourself will be your decision. Simferopol itself is an appealing city, and although it’s not by the sea itself, or especially tourist-orientated, it’s a mid-point between a lot of places which are.

The most popular places to stay are Sevastopol, and Yalta, but if you want to stay in a number of places, you can find hotels, or apartments anywhere in Crimea – Alustha, Feodosiya, Kerch, Sudak, Koktobel, and more, and you’ll find something to do everywhere in Crimea. So, if you were thinking of going for a week, I’d recommend two, and even then you are just getting started. Not to sound like the Holiday show, but that’s exactly as it is.

And why should you believe me? Because I’ve got no angle here other than to tell you the truth of how things are. And I’ve spent a lot of time there. As for the rest, be sure that most all of what you read about Crimea in the west is by those who haven’t even been there – and certainly do have an angle –

But, if they want to visit, let them follow this advice, and I wish you all a great time! Graham

Brit in Crimea Film: Updates

I’m happy to say that work with the film itself is moving along well! I also, along with Les Scott, the Brit in Crimea himself, recently did an interview on Radio Sputnik –

https://sputniknews.com/radio_hard_facts/201704191052355832-what-happens-when-you-take-a-brit-to-crimea/

And you can watch the behind-the-scenes look at that here!

Plus, a little bonus clip here:

Lot more to come!

A Graham Newsletter (#25) East of Ukraine Nostalgia, Crimea, Latvia, DPR Tourism

It’s been both a week of intense activity in Donbass – from the first coal, and not only, trading with Russia, new DPR-designed roadheaders (I’ve been covering that all on my Twitter), and, sadly, continued Ukrainian shelling (see Patrick Lancaster, on the scene, for full coverage of that).

Also, I can say it’s been a week of some nostalgia for myself, as this week, 3 years ago, I’d set off from Odessa to see the situation in the east of Ukraine, as it was then, for myself. Driving, sleeping in the car for a few hours many nights to save time, covering as much ground as possible and, for my own embryonic YouTube channel as it was, filming reportage of things, just as they were! This week I did a few pull-togethers of reportage, here on the Truth Speaker, of things as they were –

Click here for full reportage, Donetsk, March 12th, 2014, here’s a couple: 

From Kharkov, March 14th: 

And, of course, Crimea, March 16th:

Of course, looking back to Latvia, from 2016, it’s a difference form of ‘nostalgia’ – I’d gone to spend a month reporting from Latvia, yet on the 3rd day, the authorities objected to my coverage of the march there honouring Nazism, deported me, banned for 3 years.

Here is my reportage from that day, March 16th, 2016 – 

They then pursued me with various letters describing my ‘misdemenours’ (in Latvian, so I really had no idea what they were saying), culminating in an 8-page document, which, after listing all my supposed wrong-doings (I asked people at a march honouring Nazism why they were doing that), then said they wanted 150 Euros from me!

Things all got a bit surreal on March 16th itself, when Ukrainian media, and not only, wrote the story of my being detained, and deported, at the Waffen SS veteran march, as if it had been March 16th, 2017 rather than 2016!  Groundhog Day…

This led to my receiving a lot of worried messages, and my own wondering if this was Latvia’s latest attempt for 150 Euros from me!

As it was, I was far away from Latvia. And indeed, being a tourist – in London, no less, and here I present you with my latest reportage from there, as a ‘DPR tourist’, no less, featuring a couple of special guests!

 There’s a bit more to come from the UK, not only London, and then, I’ll be on the road back to Donbass, via some interesting places en route!

Once more, a massive thanks to all of you who support my work, and make all kinds of reportage possible, in all kinds of places! The main thing is, it’s always independent, objective, and completely crowdfunded! To be a part, click here –

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

Of course, your support also goes towards here, the Truth Speaker, and the many articles, providing information, debunking fakes, as here –

‘Russian Tanks in Ukraine’: Tony Blair’s ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ for our times

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/14/russian-tanks-in-ukraine-tony-blairs-weapons-of-mass-destruction-for-our-times/

And don’t worry, none of your support goes towards propping up the Latvian economy 😉

Look out for lots more to come soon! Best for now!

Crimea: March 16th, 2014 – As It Really Was

Graham Phillips

3 years ago, I was living in Odessa, however I’d embarked on a tour of east Ukraine, as it then was, covering some 5000km in a week, at the wheel, to see for myself how things were, at a time when it felt like everything was falling apart in Ukraine. More about that here –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/12/my-reportage-from-donetsk-12th-march-2014/

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/14/my-video-reportage-from-kharkov-14th-march-2014/

The culmination was Crimea, on referendum day, and here’s my video reportage from that day!

Arriving: 

A polling station: 

The streets of Simferopol: 

The parliament itself, Simferopol:

A look at Russia, and Ukraine, in Crimea: 

Speaking to Crimean Tatars – 

And, to finish this on another electoral note, another polling station:

And that’s just how it was! It was a referendum which supported the overwhelming wishes of Crimeans. Some Crimean Tatars were unhappy, and I covered that, yet their leaders, media, had told them to feel this way.

3 years on, it’s a different story – Survey claims most Crimean Tatars satisfied with living in Russia – and as for the referendum, in polling stations everything was in order, there were no ‘little green men’, there was no ‘voting under the gun’ – that’s all nonsense from people who weren’t there, and don’t want to know the truth. I went there, just because I wanted to know the truth, and for you to know it too.