Western Media Reaction to Victory Days in Donbass

Recent Victory Days in Donbass saw mass turnouts, I filmed in Lugansk where there were around 100,000 people celebrating, amazing entertainment, a concert, and more. 

What was the western media’s reaction to this, mass display of patriotism? Well, beginning with the Atlantic Council funded site Medium, the Atlantic Council itself, funded by western governments – and even Ukraine itself – to promote western, in this case pro-Ukrainian propaganda, it was universally negative.

All they could find to do was pore over the military equipment on display, attemping to connect it all to Russia, in various ways. 

That pumped on into other western media, with Yahoo News, reporting from AFP, declaring Ukraine rebels roll out banned tanks on WWII Victory Day in an article which put great weight on that supposed feature, and only grudgingly, casting the shadow of the Kremlin, mentioned the support shown by locals for the day.

It’s indeed ironic that the western media has absolutely ignored the constant violations of the Minsk agreement by Ukrainain forces ongoing shelling of Donbass, but when a few military vehicles peacefully roll through streets in a traditional parade, it’s all uproar and ‘bad separatists’, ‘Kremlin’ all over…

Victory Day in Lugansk – Videos, and Details!

I recently filmed Victory Day in Lugansk, capital of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Donbass. Here are the videos, on a day in which around 100,000 people turned out to mark the historic celebration of victory over fascism in WWII.

The beginning –

The military parade – 

The military vehicle parade – 

Just some of the entertainment, as local kids put on a show – 

A mass march of people through the city, representing organisations, companies, associations –

The march of the ‘Immortal Regiment’, where people bear placards, usually of their forefathers who fought in the wars – 

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Firework display after the evening concert – 

And this, just a sampling of the videos, of a truly remarkable day in Lugansk!

Arriving in Donetsk, 3 Years Ago Today….

3 years ago today, I was arriving in Donetsk, for ‘one week’s work’, with the channel RT, in a bit of a panic at that time, as they couldn’t get their own correspondents into Donbass, calling me in Odessa, where I lived at the time, simply saying ‘get to Donetsk as soon as you can!!‘. I duly drove all night –

After a couple of days, RT managed to get their own correspondents in, and sent me down to Lugansk to see out the remainder of my contract. Then, on 12th April, I heard early on about something happening in nearby Slavyansk, called RT. The producer who answered first said ‘Where’s that?‘ Then ‘Graham, your contract’s almost up, just stay a couple days more in Lugansk‘. I replied that I was going to Slavyansk with or without them.

And there we have it. 

My Next Film: The Story of Irina Gurtyak

Graham Phillips

Irina GurtyakI’ve almost completed work on my next full-length film, which will be released likely in early April, and with English subtitles.

The film is called, as above, The Story of Irina Gurtyak. Irina, Ira, was a young journalist from Lugansk, who I got to know in my time in Lugansk, December of 2015. She made a huge impression on me, a truly remarkable young lady, organising this Master Class in which I took part. Ira was dedicated to being a journalist, to delivering truth to the world about Donbass. She was dynamic, beautiful, incredibly friendly, kind, a wonderful young lady, of immense potential.

I left Donbass in mid-January, for a holiday in Russia. On January 31st, in St Petersburg, I woke to receive devastating news – Ira had been killed in a car crash.  

The news was so shocking as to be hard to process. Lugansk was peaceful at that time, no shelling, yet Ira’s life had been taken in a tragic accident, in which the driver of the car she was in, was at fault.

Irina GurtyakIt was something I thought of a lot in the first part of 2016, it played in the mind – the loss of a life with such potential, the cruel needlessness of it, exactly a week after her 20th birthday. Ira was a person who had shown me a lot of kindness, warmth, but more than that, as I spoke with more people who knew her, I became aware of the fascinating story of her life.

So it was, in mid 2016, with the full cooperation of her family, I decided to make a Irina Gurtyak 2film about her. But not simply a tribute film, for those who knew her. In Ira’s story, I saw, and see, a wide significance, and resonance, for everyone. It’s a story of a journalist, the story of a Luganchan (a native of Lugansk, as she was), the story of war, how war changed lives in Lugansk, the story of why such an intelligent young lady chose the life she did, the story of how Ira survived a war which wrought devastation on her hometown, yet still died due to war, and what goes with it. And more.

As my previous full-length film, Aramis, I’m working on this film with Oleg Somov. I’ve already travelled 8000km for the film, filmed over 50 interviews. There’s one more to film.

This film is absolutely not-for-profit, any costs have been met from my own budget, raised via crowdfunding. 

It’s a film I never wanted to make, or could have imagined making. But, it’s one which had to be made, and made as best possible. It’s the final story of a journalist who should have had a lifetime of stories ahead of her, and it’s one I hope, and believe, you will find meaning in.

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

Updates from the DLPR (#8) Leaving and Returning to the LPR, and the difference…

I left the Lugansk People’s Republic a couple of weeks ago, to go to report from the DPR for a period. The LPR I left was at that time, almost entirely quiet, in terms of war. Events were of a more positive nature, this flashmob in Pervomaisk –

And here, Lugansk schoolchildren sing ‘Imagine’ to me!

Returning to Lugansk – with an evacuation taking place from a frontline village, and the reason clear in this video report, huge thanks to Sergey Yermolayev for English subtitles here –

Back in Lugansk, it was immediately thrust into reporting of a different kind, as Ukrainian forces had fired 7 times into villages by the perimeter. I go there to report on it, and ask why the OSCE are there, but don’t seem to be doing anything –

Here’s a look at the frontline, and the distance between sides –

And here, with full English subs, again thanks to Sergey Yermolayev, an exclusive English-language interview from the LPR frontlines –

We go on here, in the LPR for now, with more reportage to come, but let’s hope for a return to the positive, rather than the latest.

Updates from the DLPR (#4) Shelling in the DPR and LPR

Reports from the DPR about ceasefire violations have been in the thousands, by the week, in October. However, numbers are numbers, and it’s sadly the case that it takes victims for shelling to really make news, get attention. You will doubtless be aware that on October 27th, the city of Makeevka (by Donetsk) was hit by Ukrainian shelling, with two killed as a result, some photos of that here –

Edward Basurin, the DPR Defence spokesman, named Thursday 27th as ‘Black Thursday’, with a total of three killed, across the DPR, and 10 wounded. 

Patrick Lancaster, in Donetsk, reports heavy shelling audible this night. Let’s wait until morning, and hope for no more victims.

There is a conception that over in the LPR, things are calm and peaceful. That’s a misconception, as I filmed from the scene where it seems Ukrainian forces had intentionally hit a civilian car with an anti-tank device, with the 60-year-old male driver now in a critical condition, after having undergone an amputation –

You can take your pick of reasons for the escalation, from time of year – this time last year, and of course 2014, also saw an escalation of shelling – to the upcoming US presidential election. But, there’s no question, Ukrainian shelling is intensifying in both the DPR, and LPR, and there are victims.