Navalny Meeting in Moscow: Crimea, Punishment, and Russian Police in Action

As some of you are aware, on January the 28th I went along to film an – unsanctioned, pro-Navalny meeting, here in Moscow. In the course of a verbal exchange of unpleasantries between myself and Navalny supporters, one of their number, Andrei Okolovitch, attempted to smash both, succeeded in smashing one of my cameras (GoPros are durable hardware).

What came next? Well, I spent Monday trying to fix it, but the Panasonic camcorder, costing about £300, with me since December 2015, was totalled. So, on Tuesday, I went to the police here in Moscow. Next, things moved quickly – Andrei was apprehended, and charges were raised against him. Andrei himself wrote to me at this point, asking that I accept his apology and a ‘name my sum’ of compensation, however, I wasn’t willing to accept an email, and money wasn’t the issue.

An interesting point is that about 100 western journalists were covering a few hundred Navalny supporters at this event. Yet not only was the incident not reported by one of them, on their Twitter accounts they took to bitching about me, and crying about how one of their beloved Navalny supporters could face jail for two years – a possible punishment – because of the awful ‘propagandist Graham Phillips’.

Well, it’s in vain they got so worked up on that score. There was never any question of using it from my end for any political end. No one in the Russian police, who worked effectively, professionally, without fuss, even alluded to politics, in any form.

All the options were explained to me, I met Andrey in person, 3 times, including today. And yesterday is when the matter was closed – Andrey apologised (on camera, which I filmed, below, in Russian, but am sure a kind person will add a description), I accepted his apology.

More, Andrey offered not only the £335 or so of the camera, but £600+. I’d discussed with Andrey that this amount would be donated in full to a humanitarian organisation which supports Donbass, something he fully supported. This was possible due to kind people having in any case, despite my not having appealed, donated me money for a new camera shortly after the incident itself. I transferred the full amount today, to the ‘Dobro Mira’ fund, to whom Andrey has also set up a monthly donation. That money will be absolutely vital to ‘Dobro Mira’, and the amazing work they do!

The matter still goes forward, under Russian law, to a court. However, I’ve officially withdrawn my complaint, so the outcome will be a peaceful resolution.

People have at times called my journalism ‘provocative’, and that’s, at times, as may be, and said worse about me, which is all a matter of opinion. But, people who know me know that I’m not a vindictive person, and am nor not interested in unnecessary fuss or scandal which take time from what I’d like to be doing – making films, reportage.

There is a law in Russia, for all. On the times when I’ve not followed the law in Russia, such as flying my drone at Victory Day in Kerch 2016, I was apprehended by the Russian police, as anyone else, and accepted that.

But, do not believe what you are told, or have seen about how the police, or law, works in Russia – and I refer particularly to Simon Reeve’s ‘Russia’ ‘documentary’. Russian police have always been in my experience fair, professional, friendly even. It’s only with some regret that I can say that our British police could truly take lessons from them.

As for the western journalists there at the demo, encouraging the Navalny supporters into thinking they were ‘heroes’ who could do anything they want, fuelling them on into various acts of hooliganism, vandalism, then reporting their ensuing arrest by the police as if it were egregious ‘repression’, by the Russian ‘regime’ etc, well, shame on them all who go back to their cushy Moscow apartments with their story, leaving in many cases just kids to face the consequences of breaking the law….

For Andrey, it could have been much worse, as he appreciates. However despite whatever differences of political position etc there may be, we found a common language, and were both happy to be able to provide support to Donbass. On this basis, I fully accept his apology, and wish him the best.

This matter has been resolved fairly, quickly, effectively. Myself and Andrey go our separate ways, and we move on, with justice done.

The Navalny Meeting, a Broken Camera, and Justice in Russia

As some of you know, a couple of weeks ago, I went to film at a pro-Navalny meeting here in Moscow. During the course of this, during an exchange of non-flattering verbals, one of the Navalny supporters smashed my camera, all clearly captured by others videoing the event.

I did what one does in such situations, after discovering that the £300 video camera was broken beyond repair, went to the police in Moscow, who did their job swiftly, and effectively, apprehending the person in question.

Que tears from western journalists that one of their beloved Navalny supporters may be jailed for two years (a possible sentence if convicted), and hysterics about the case being ‘politicised’, etc.

Absolutely not the case. It’s been dealt with in an effective, professional, low-key way by the Russian police, with no question of politics or show ever coming into it.

And anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not a vindictive person. But things must be done properly, by the law. Under Russian law, I have the right to accept an apology by this person, and to withdraw my complaint.

I am prepared to do this, if – the apology is sincere, official, and the full amount of the camera is compensated. I will donate this money, in full, to an organisation which does humanitarian work for Donbass, because people have already donated for me to purchase a new camera.

I’d again like to thank the Russian police for their professionalism in this. A case of violation, repentance, restitution, and then we move on.

Brit in Crimea – Amazing Premiere – First Photos, Video Interview!

Last week in Moscow, January 18th, I held the premiere of my new film, Brit in Crimea, at the Fitil Cinema club. Huge thanks to Daria Fedko for her help in organising this, fantastic – and free, open-to-all event, of which some photos here: 

Here, an interview, and piece, in English, on the main Russian news channel: 

More photos here: 

And more to come! And again thanks to everyone who was part of an incredible premiere, and part of making the film happen!! 

A Graham Newsletter (#32) The UK Ups Support for Ukraine, BBC Come After Me

This is a factual newsletter, lots of info, lets get right to it.

Ben Stimson was recently jailed in the UK for his participation in Donbass. The UK effectively use Ben as the fall guy to send out a statement: they are upping their support for Ukraine:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/18/rank-injustice-hypocrisy-in-the-uk-the-case-of-ben-stimson-and-chris-garrett/

Shortly after, the UK update their travel advice for Ukraine, stating: “If you travel to eastern Ukraine to fight, or to assist others engaged in the conflict, your activities may amount to offences against UK terrorism or other legislation and you could be prosecuted on your return to the UK”.

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/22/update-uk-updates-ukraine-travel-advice/

The UK also announces the other day, that it’s stepping up military support to Ukraine: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/21/united-kingdom-steps-up-support-of-ukrainian-army-still-shelling-civilians/

And, in this time, the UK’s propagada agency, the BBC have come for me: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/22/exclusive-how-the-uk-are-trying-to-stop-my-work-full-story/

What do the BBC want? They want to do an interview with me, where I either state, or they make out that I stated, that I’m ‘returning to Donbass’, having done a hit on me as a ‘Russian propagandist, banned from Ukraine as a threat to national security’, etc.

Public outcry at the repression of a journalist deflected, by the BBC, onto ‘UK authorities stop Russian propagandist’. 

The UK have resorted to this now, because actually last September, UK ambassador Judith Gough stated, despite her opporbrium of my work that I hadn’t committed any offences in the UK, so they couldn’t touch me (although if Ukraine get me, they can do what they like).

Yet, things have clearly changed.  Ben Stimson hadn’t committed any offences in the UK, actually he hadn’t committed any offences anywhere given that he’d never fired a shot in anger, but they still got him.

So, they sent in the BBC to find something new to frame me with, in the light of Ben’s conviction, and precedent set. Would they jail me? Almost certainly no. Would they try to stop me leaving the country? They’d love to. 

By the way, you can read my recent article about Judith Gough, here:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/22/uk-ambassador-judith-gough-having-a-gay-time-in-ukraine-while-war-in-donbass-goes-on/

And my recent reportage, from Moscow here:

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/20/my-visit-to-the-ukrainian-cultural-centre-in-moscow-special-reportage/

And a look at recent Donbass reportage here: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/17/my-recent-donbass-period-25-key-moments/

There’s a lot of reportage to come, but no longer in the UK will I write, or can I write about ‘reportage to come from Donbass, Crimea’. However, I’ll always tell the truth. I’m leaving the UK soon, to finish my documentary from Luxembourg, about Belval. After that, there will be reportage from Russia.

As ever, all my work is 100% supported by individual donations on crowdfunding, and I’m hugely grateful to anyone who helps keep my independent, objective journalism alive:

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

Where I’ve Been for the Last 2 Months, and What Next…

Graham Phillips

I left Donetsk almost 2 months ago and I know that, since then, a lot of my tweets etc have been in Russian, so for those of you who haven’t read those, here’s a quick wrap-up of these past 2 months.

1AramisI initially spent a couple of weeks in Russia with my parents, on holiday, spending time in Moscow then St Petersburg. Then, I sat for a month in St Petersburg and, with Oleg Somov, finished my first film, Aramis. I’m really looking forward to showing this film in London when I return – there’ll be an English version, and giving the film a full online release after that.

Recently, I’ve been filming reportage in St Petersburg. Apologies if I haven’t added English subs to these, if there’s sufficient interest I’ll do that – they’ve been on themes perhaps of particular interest to a Russian audience, though I’d hope wider, of course.

A piece about the wall in St Petersburg dedicated to famous Russian actor Sergey Bodrov (who incidentally starred in a film with Anna Friel) –

Women’s Day on March 8th –

Yuri Gagarin’s Birthday –

I’ve also brought you pieces from Crimea in this time, as it’s 2 years since their reunification with Russia there – and I’ll be making unique English-language Crimea reports from Crimea – a unique report from Ukraine-controlled territory of Donbass – with at least one more to come very soon. Now, I’m preparing for a return to active reporting, and will put emphasis on delivering reportage in English at the first moment possible, as I head for a special reportage trip to the Baltics.

My Return to Work in Donbass

Graham W Phillips

Graham and dadI’ve spent the last 2 months in London, and had a truly wonderful time in this city in which I lived and worked for 10 years. I’ve spent time with family (that’s my dad, btw), friends, been to Wembley – twice, been around London, watched a lot of favourite shows Come Dine with Me, Dinner Date, Grand Designs, and more.

For some time, I have been ready, and preparing to return to work in Donbass, where, from August 2014 to February 2015 I spent a continuous 6 1/2 months, before my return to London in March.

To this end, I applied for a visa for the Russian federation. My plan is to be in Moscow on May 9th, to commemorate, photograph and film, Victory Day there, and then Graham at workproceed directly to Donbass, and Donetsk – my helmet, bulletproof jacket, and working equipment are there, and I’ll immediately return to work.

I’ll be travelling by my car, a Rover 75, full of humanitarian aid for Donbass donated in London. I’ve driven to Ukraine, and through Ukraine 3 times before. However, this time, as above, I’ll be driving through Russia to my destination of Donbass. I was deported from Ukraine twice in 2014, for no reason other than reporting news inconvenient to the Kiev government. I was banned from Ukraine for three years, in July of 2014, for the same reason.

I don’t consider this ban valid – I was given neither official documentation, nor any kind of ‘black mark’ in my passport. The reasons given by the Kiev authorities for my ban changed several times – they were consistent only in all being nonsense.

However, I am aware of the current situation in Ukraine. A lawless state where Oles Buzinaperceived opposition figures are hunted and killed, most recently, anti-war journalist Oles Buzina (pictured). There is no question that, given the degree of sentiment against me in Ukraine due to my reporting events in Donbass not agreeable to the Kiev government, any trip into Ukraine would be a suicide mission.

Yet I don’t agree in letting the Kiev government tactics of repression, tantamount to state terrorism, win. I’m committed to working in Donbass. No other western correspondent has reported there either earlier, or longer, than myself. I’m very excited Graham at work1about returning to work there next week!

Despite what the pro-Euromaidan/Ukraine side would perpetuate, my relationship with the Russian state, consulate, is that of a normal British citizen with the Russian state. I apply for a visa, with the relevant documentation, passport photos, and hope that application is approved, as this one has been. My experiences of the Russian embassy and consulate have always been positive – professional, efficient, however there is no ‘special treatment’. I submit the same documentation as anyone else, pay the same visa fee.

True to say, some in the Russian consulate know me, and on a personal level have been friendly to me, and supportive of my work in bringing the truth out of Donbass. They are simply nice people. Of course I’ve been vilified by a Ukraine which has seen Graham Londonmy work do much to shatter their falsehoods and lies which support, and purport, the Ukrainian position. And I’ve been appreciated in a Russia (one of many nice things sent to me from Russia, left) which has seen in me an independent western correspondent who has reported the truth, in a world of western correspondents who long since sacrificed that concept that to blanket attack Russia, either to further their career, or serve their state.

I am not really bothered about the relentless attacks on me by ‘pro-Ukraine’ supporters. And I’m very grateful for the support, kindness, from Russian people, people across the Graham Donbassworld in fact. However neither animosity nor affinity give me any affiliation. I’m a completely objective, neutral correspondent.

In my last time in Donbass, I was most often referred to as a ‘war correspondent’, but do not read in my return any indication that I will be returning in that capacity. I would be much happier to be a ‘peace’ correspondent.

So, I get back to work as a correspondent. On top of this, I am delighted to have over £3400 raised at my Donbass event in London, more from online fundraising and the Support Donbass shop, and still more to help a shelling victim, amputee, Lilya.

I absolutely believe in the capacity of a journalist both to report, and to do good. I’ll be P1230109reporting news in Donbass, and distributing, filming distribution of, the humanitarian aid so generously given by so many to help the civilians of Donbass.

Before leaving, early morning on May 7th, I’ll be doing something I consider enormously important – voting in the UK election. I love the United Kingdom, and I urge all who can to vote, have their say in the future of our great nation.

Then, Moscow on May 9th, Victory Day, something I’m hugely looking forward to – as well as getting back to work in Donbass!

So, that’s that, and we crack on!