I’ve been pretty vocal over the last week after becoming aware of the BBC’s intention to do a piece on me, and what that would be (given it’s the BBC):
Here’s the piece, and my comments in bold. I’ll deal with the part of the article (by Sam Bright) about myself, Texas and Patrick are more than capable of answering for themselves, and have done just that. Texas here. Patrick here. Photos added for reference.
Bentley isn’t a one-off. Other Westerners have been using online crowdfunding to finance their activities in eastern Ukraine since the conflict started.
Among them is 38-year-old Graham Phillips from Nottingham. Since November 2013, Phillips has been covering the conflict, broadcasting amateur videos from Donbass, often in the midst of tearing bullets and toppling buildings. His daredevil style has drawn the attention of audiences, and he boasts 86,000 subscribers on YouTube. From 2014 to 2015, Phillips was employed by Zvezda – a media channel run by the Russian Ministry of Defence, and he also freelanced for the state-operated TV channel RT.
No mention of my ending my own contract with Zvezda, and my oft-mentioned grievance with RT over how they cut me off in Poland, after 2nd deportation, nor actually, that at the start of the conflict, before I realised what they were like, I even did some freelance work for … the BBC.
Actually I wrote for the New Statesman, Politico, Newsweek – before coming to similar conclusions about them.
Not that it’s even an issue, working for Russian media – they allowed me to report the story the BBC don’t want you to hear, and not one thing I ever reported while working for Russian media was disproven, but working for Russian media represents way, way the minority of my output as a journalist.
Phillips is highly critical of the Ukrainian government and appears to back the break-up of the country. Speaking on camera to Bentley in September 2015, Phillips accuses the Ukrainian government of “lies and propaganda”, before adding: “I absolutely believe that we’ll win in the end.”
The old trick of taken out of context. This was clearly said in the context of the ‘fight for truth’ winning. And one line, taken from the thousands of things I’ve said … and, taken out of context. As for the rest, of course I’m critical of the Ukrainian government, how can one not criticise a government which has set about shelling civilians? Not that the BBC article makes any mention of that at all, of course, and in any case most of my reportage is actually letting people in Donbass speak for themselves.
Since May 2014, Phillips has been forbidden from entering Ukraine, on the grounds of “national security”. The Ukrainian government even took the unusual step of issuing an open letter to UK authorities, condemning Phillips’ actions.
This is technically factual, to point. However, there are two sides, and no attempt to balance the negative about me with another side. Nor mention that this attempt by the Ukrainian government was dismissed by the UK government.
Phillips says that he’s an independent journalist and claims that he has financed his activities entirely through crowdfunding from January 2016 onwards – although existing records indicate he’s raised less than £7,500 through crowdfunding campaigns during that time.
I’ve raised a bit more than that, as I also crowdfund using Paypal, and my Russian card. But, yeah, it’s tough to cover costs as an independent journalist, contribute if you can!
A screenshot from Graham Phillips’ latest crowdfunding campaign. Phillips is currently crowdfunding for a new period of reporting in eastern EuropeImage copyright.
That’s actually not true, this campaign closed a couple of weeks ago, and there are none currently active.
At least three of his campaigns have been created to fund work in Donbass, and despite being banned from the country, he’s travelled to the region frequently since May 2014. On his blog, he says he enters the region via Russia, although travelling to the area via separatist controlled border crossings is currently illegal under Ukrainian law.
And that’s Ukrainian law. So really, so what? Hundreds of Europeans, people from across the world have entered, enter the DPR and LPR that way...
Because of his actions, the crowdfunding website JustGiving removed one of Phillips’ appeals in July 2015. After the company was notified that Phillips was unable to legally re-enter the region, JustGiving refused to release the £2,000 that Phillips had raised through his campaign.
Actually this is really pretty disingenuous. The campaign on JustGiving was purely for humanitarian aid, for Donbass, and not for my work at all. No mention of this whatsoever, by the BBC
Although Phillips also declined to speak to BBC Trending, he has disputed the company’s actions, and his campaigns remain active on Indiegogo.
I actually had quite a lot to say to the BBC in my replies to Sam, see here:
Unlike Bentley, Phillips has not engaged in combat, although he has been filmed navigating a drone with the help of soldiers in Donbass and has interviewed Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Pre-empting what the BBC would write (along with the narrative, etc), I already dealt with this point here – https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/21/why-the-bbc-have-come-after-me/
Graham Phillips on Twitter, saying that he chose not to apply the Geneva Convention to his workImage copyright@GRAHAMWP_UK
Out of my over 47,000 tweets, encompassing all themes, Sam chose this. Ok, as he wishes, I don’t have a problem with it. I know that I always work with good faith, sincerity, integrity. And there are plenty of tweets stating this, again, not of interest to the BBC.
Phillips is not the only Brit who has travelled to the Ukraine conflict region. Earlier this month, Benjamin Stimson, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was sentenced by Manchester Crown Court to five years and four months in prison for assisting separatist forces in Donbass.
So, an attempt to tie me in with the recently imprisoned Ben Stimson, that’s clear then.
And a question for the BBC, why did the article start out under this headline: Westerners crowdfunding for the break-up of Ukraine –
To this, shortly later: The communist soldier using charity sites to fund his war (Texas)…
The adventures of an American in Donbass perhaps not of the greatest interest to a British reader? I have my own view, that the BBC tried to come for me, I saw them coming, called them, and they’ve ended up going a bit soft. One-sided, propagandistic, deceitful – of course, it’s the BBC, but, flaccid. The article they wanted to write, which would give the government the excuse to stop me leaving the country, didn’t happen. It was a clumsy, half-cocked hatchet job.
Gallingly, I, like everyone else in the UK, have to pay for this shit…