Google Maps on Donbass – Can it be Trusted?

What’s the first thing you do when you look for a place? Of course, Google Maps, the world’s leading most popular online map, not only that, the world’s most popular app, with 54% of smartphones having it installed at least once.

Yesterday I wrote about Denmark, and despite all, the first thing I did was go to Google Maps. The ‘despite all’ part, is the following – that I’ve serious questions about the impartiality of the internet’s most comprehensive web-mapping service. The other week, I went to do a search for a place in Lugansk, this, th centre of the city of Lugansk, Donbass (now, ok, Google Maps are not going to describe it as the Lugansk People’s Republic, that’s not up for discussion now)


Here, a closer look, and we can clearly see a ‘Monument of victims of ‘russian world’ terror’ marked – 

Clearly, Russian written as ‘russian’ as a mark of disrespect. But that’s an incidental, because this monument, and let’s have a look at the satellite imagery here, for which Google Maps is renowned –


And here is the monument itself, in the centre of Lugansk. But it is not a monument to anything connected with ‘Russian terror’ – it’s a monument to victims of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army – who fought with the Nazis in WWII. 

There are a few things to take into account here. A feature of Google Maps is indeed the ability to add, or name landmarks there. But is there really no limit? Could you just go to the Statue of Liberty and just name it as, well, take your pick… could you just go to Jerusalem, Palestine, etc….

More, I submitted a correction about this to Google a week ago, and they’ve done nothing about it yet. How long has it even been there? Clearly, providing accurate information here is not a priority for Google Maps – so the question is, in how many other places don’t they care about what’s on their maps? 

This is Google Maps, over 7000 employees, constantly investing millions in adding new features – soon they’ll be able to tell you when to get off the bus. And they are so uninterested in checking their maps not only for accuracy, but for that which is clearly grossly offensive….

As for the sheer, crass cynicism of the ‘pro-Ukrainian’, to call them that, who renamed this to attack Russia, without any thought not only for the victims of the UIA, but more for the hundreds killed in Lugansk itself by Ukrainian shelling of the city, in 2014…. well, from them, that’s probably to be expected.

But from Google Maps, we should either expect more, or be aware that when we look at Google Maps, we may be looking at the work of fine geographers and cartographers. Or it could just be some angry activist running amok….

(18+) Catalonia Referendum, and the Donbass Referendum Double-Standard

Catalonia has declared a ‘yes’ vote for independence, with just over 90% of the total of 2,262,424 votes in favour of seceding from Spain. 

With Catalonia now close to declaring independence, we now wait to see if the world will accept. However, this isn’t the only referendum on self-determination in recent times to gain over a 90% vote in favour. On May 11th, 2014, a referendum was held across Donbass, to break away from a Ukraine which had in February 2014, installed an unelected, far-right government, and in April 2014, sent in military force to Donbass to crush those who protested. 

Actually, this, just one video from Mariupol, May 9th 2014, when Ukrainian forces went into Mariupol, and opened fire on those celebrating Victory Day.

More about that later, for now, a look at the referendum itself, in which tens of thousands of people queued for hours to cast their vote, voting 90%, as in Catalonia, to be part of the Donetsk People’s Republic. I’ve had to blur the videos, because no one listened to these people, and Ukrainian forces captured the city soon after.

This voter tells me: ‘We want to live apart from Ukraine’

This man tells me ‘People want freedom, it’s a cry of the soul’

These people declare ‘We are against the Kiev government!’

This man tells me he ‘hates the Ukrainian flag’ – 

What happened after? The west simply dismissed the referendum. Ukrainian forces seized Mariupol, and other towns and cities in Donbass. And those they didn’t seize, they’ve been shelling for over 3 years, with mass loss of life. Here, Lugansk, August 2014, after Ukrainian shelling:

Here, Donetsk, January 2015 after Ukrainian shelling:

Sadly, there are many, many of these videos. Thousands killed in Donbass, and it goes on to this day. Meanwhile, Europe hasn’t just stayed quiet on this, but actively supported it. 

Here’s wishing Catalonia all the very best with their independence result. We all know, that whatever happens, what happened in Donbass will never happen there. So why did it happen in Donbass?

(18+) Children Killed by Ukrainian War Crimes in Donbass (#1) Marina, Refugee Bus

By the most conservative estimates, over 100 children have been killed in the breakaway regions of Donbass, by Ukrainian military action. Yet, the west are silent on this. Why?

Is it because western governments are supporting this?

I am a British journalist, Graham Phillips, who has been covering the war in Donbass for over 3 years. In that time, sadly, I’ve covered the deaths of around 15 children, killed by Ukrainian military action, with many more wounded.

This is the first in a series, documenting children killed by the Ukrainian military.

On August 20th, 2014, mid-afternoon, Marina, 7, and her mother Natalya were queueing for humanitarian aid in the centre of a crisis-hit Lugansk.

Shelling, fired by Ukrainian forces from their positions at the nearby Lugansk airport, hit, seriously wounding Natalya, and blowing off Marina’s leg. A couple of days later, I filmed this interview with Natalya at a Lugansk hospital: full English subs –

Marina was in a coma at this time, she never emerged from that, dying the next morning.

In early September, the 2nd, 2014, I filmed the following scene, by the village of Khryaschuvate, a few kilometres outside of Lugansk. A refugee truck, destroyed on August 18th. Ukrainian forces had pulled over the truck at their blockpost. A member of the Lugansk People’s Militia was escorting the truck, with some 20 mostly women and children trying to flee war, on it.

Upon seeing the member of the people’s militia, Ukrainian forces immediately opened fire on the truck. This was the result, at least 17 killed, in their number, many children, as you can see –

Realising their mistake, the Ukrainian side told a strange, convoluted story about this one. On Tuesday the 19th, they were already declaring to the press that they’d ‘recovered 15 bodies’ from the fatal incident, while trying to blame it on the Lugansk People’s militia. Yet, some two weeks later, I found the above scene – in the meantime, Ukrainian forces had held positions right next to the destroyed truck, with the bodies of its victims scattered around:

Photos here:

These were to be the first, but sadly far from the last time I would see children killed by the Ukrainian military in Donbass. The series will continue.

Please, help to spread this, share this, so more people know the truth about Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass. 

18+ Donbass War: When Ukrainian Shelling Hit Lugansk, August 2014

This is a Donbass video I’m no longer able to show on YouTube, but which needs to be shown.

In August of 2014, Ukrainian forces had almost surrounded the city of Lugansk – held at that time, still held by the Lugansk People’s Republic forces. The Ukrainian military’s closest stronghold to the city was Lugansk airport, some 10km from city limits, and from there, they rained shelling down on the city of Lugansk throughout July, and August of 2014.

This shelling, which hit all over the city of Lugansk, caused mass civilian loss of life. Here is an 18+ video, from August 13th, 2014.

Why did they choose to do this? Ukrainian forces knew perfectly well they couldn’t take Lugansk by force. Or, they were unwilling to try. Their intention was to terrorise the people of Lugansk into surrendering. That didn’t happen, but the legacy of their campaign is some horrific stories. Go to Lugansk’s southern cemetery, you’ll find this gravestone:

This was a family of 3, the Knishes. On the 14th of July, they were all packed, and ready to leave Lugansk, to escape the daily shelling of the city by Ukrainian forces. In a cruel twist of fate, shelling hit them just as they were about to leave.

And there’s thousands of other tragic stories of the results of Ukrainian shelling of Lugansk, 2014. I was there, witnessed it with my own eyes. The memories, losses, pain, anger, is there to this day in Lugansk.

As a military operation by Ukraine, it was a complete failure. Fired up by the actions of Ukraine’s forces against their city, Lugansk People’s Republic forces drove Ukrainian forces from Lugansk aiport, and other positions nearby, at the start of September, 2014.

More on that to come, in this series, of facts, from the ground, explaining to you what really happened in Donbass.

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

Remembering Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin

When Ukrainian shelling hit by where they had been filming, just outside Lugansk, the village of Metalist, journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his technician Anton Voloshin, working there for the Rossiya channel, lost their lives. Voloshin was, literally, blown to pieces by the blast, while Kornelyuk (born in Ukraine, educated in St Petersburg) made it to the emergency room only to lose his battle for life after 35 minutes.

igor

Yesterday was the third anniversary of their death, I visited the site, where a momument now stands, in their memory. 

DSC01376DSC01379DSC01382DSC01384DSC01387DSC01391DSC01393

Donbass, and not only, will always remember them for their work, and their sacrifice.