Interviews with Ukrainians on Crimean Beaches…

All of the propaganda about Crimea this summer, and yet how was it, really? Here, the words of Ukrainians, on holiday in Crimea, Russia:

Here, a ‘pro-Ukraine’ lady, from Kiev, on holiday in Crimea, gives her view:

Here, ladies from Kharkov:

The words of real people, real Ukrainians, versus the wall of western, Ukrainian propaganda…

A Lot of ‘pro-Ukraine’ Videos for such a ‘Russian Propagandist’

I’ve recently announced that the next period of my reportage takes me away from Donbass, where I’ve extensively covered for the past, over 3 years. It’s an interesting part of this, that somewhere along the line, some decided that I’m some sort of a ‘Russian propagandist’ –

British Citizen Exposed as a Tool of Russia’s FSB

Pro-Russian propagandist Graham Phillips detained in Riga

Pro-Kremlin journalist Graham Phillips deported from Latvia and blacklisted for three years

Why some people have decided this? Well, I could say ‘I’m not sure’, and all that, but I know perfectly well. Because I didn’t report near universally ‘pro-Ukraine’ news – and in fact the bulk of my reports has always been letting people on the ground talk, and putting that out unedited. 

As it happens, people on the ground simply didn’t say what those in the western, Ukrainian media wanted to hear. To make matters worse, because of this, Ukrainian authorities deported me and banned me from the country, depriving me of the opportunity to, for example, go to Lvov, or Kiev, and find ‘pro-Ukraine’ people there to interview.

As it was, in Donbass, over three years, I only found a very few pro-Ukrainians to interview in Donbass. It’s not that they were there and ‘didn’t want to be interviewed’, etc, it’s that they weren’t there. And why? Well, when Ukrainian military have relentlessly targeted civilian areas of Donbass with shelling, as they did, and do, here, Lugansk, 13th August 2014, result of Ukrainain shelling:

When masses of civilians have been killed, lost relatives, been maimed by Ukrainian shelling … that will quickly eliminate any lingering ‘pro-Ukraine’ sentiment among the populace.

However, when pro-Ukrainians were there to be filmed, I always filmed them. Looking over my videos, I found these, from the end of April 2014, Donetsk, before war began:

If there had been more pro-Ukrainians to film, I’dve filmed them. However, I clearly couldn’t find enough pro-Ukrainians for people not to label me a ‘pro-Russian’. My reportage over 3 years in Donbass entirely reflected the reality of the situation there – the vast majority of people there support their republics, the mood is pro-Russian.

An interview from Donetsk in June of this year: 

The DPR Republic Day, in May: 

People on the war-torn perimeters of Donetsk, December 2015:

Flag Day in the DPR, 2015 –

It could go on, and on, and on… and it doesn’t make me ‘pro-Russian’ for reporting that, it makes me a journalist.

By any measure though, as above, I did indeed record a lot of pro-Ukrainian interviews for such a ‘Russian propagandist’.

How the Western Press Got, and Get, it So, So Wrong on Crimea (A Brief Guide)

Where to begin? Well, where they began, with the BBC blasting in March 2014 –

Why is Crimea so dangerous?

Here’s a couple of my videos from Simferopol in March of 2014, where it was less dangerous, and more just friendly, and optimistic.

And the famous, ‘little green men’, of which we’ve read so much about in western press – here, of the time, March 2014 – 

“Little green men” or “Russian invaders”?BBC

Selfskies from the frontline: People of the Crimea pose up with the masked Russian invaders – Daily Mail

The Mail headline even by western press standards a mis-step, given that even the Telegraph of the time was writing (while rather amusingly referring to the city of Sevastopol as ‘Sebastopol’ throughout) – Ukraine crisis: ‘Polite people’ leading the silent invasion of the Crimea

Patrolling the streets with the leisurely but deliberate pace of British police constables on the beat, the men with machine guns in Ukraine appear to be there to show their presence − not to fight.

And in case you’re thinking the author of that, Roland Oliphant may have been partisan or something, his subsequent work shows all the standard western media memes on Crimea in place – from March of 2014 –

March 2014 – Ukraine crisis: On Crimea’s new border the Russian Army waits

Ukraine crisis: This is the de-facto annexation of Crimea

Since 2014, there has been a deliberate, and repeated conflation in western media of the ‘little green men’, and ‘self-defence forces’, with the aim being to make out that Crimea was ‘taken’ by ‘Russian forces’, and there was no such thing as ‘self-defence forces’.

The Daily Beast, from 2017 even –

LITTLE GREEN MEN

Putin’s Hidden Insurgency Tore Up Ukraine. Now It’s Coming for Your Inbox.

(Pictured, standard western portrayal of ‘little green men’ – here, BBC). 

Putin claimed ‘little green men’ in Crimea were pro-Russian locals. They were actually Russian forces laying groundwork for invasion—a playbook that’s taking over American media.

However, those of us who were here, know the difference. There were ‘little green men’, and this my GIF here, Crimea, March 2014 – 


They were clearly regular Russian troops, and with their black sea base, Russia was allowed to have 25,000 troops on Crimea. It was never a secret that these guys had been mobilised, so it’s a surprise when the west makes out it’s all surprised they’re Russian – Simon Ostrovsky of Vice, a key exponent of this. 

Yet, a couple of key points here. There were also local self-defence forces, clearly local, clearly not regular Russian military – my video here –

Both groups were perfectly approachable, filmable. And neither of them in any way played any kind of role in ‘forcing people to vote’ in 2014, as the west has led you to believe.

Ukraine crisis: David Cameron attacks Crimea vote ‘under barrel of a Kalashnikov

Britain warns Putin after ‘Kalashnikov referendum’ in Crimea

And on…

The subject of Crimean Tatars and the western press is so voluminous as to warrent its own entry, which will be. This touches on it, the Telegraph, October 2014 – 

Despair and euphoria in Crimea six months after Russian annexationDispatch: Tatars face campaign of repression after opposing annexation, while ethnic Russians rejoice at joining motherland

Other favourite themes in the western press are that building a bridge from one part of Russia to another is some sort of sinister and ominous act:

Two years after annexation, Putin seeks to bind Crimea by bridge to Russia – Reuters, 2015

Focus on the cost of the bridge, linking Russia’s mainland and Crimea:

Russia spends ‘fortune’ on bridge to Crimea –BBC, 2017

Predictions of doom –

PUTIN’S BRIDGE TO CRIMEA IS DOOMED TO COLLAPSE – Newsweek, 2017

Why Kerch May Prove a Bridge Too Far for Russia – Moscow Times, 2016

And the metaphors do go on, and on. 

A favourite new meme of the media is that someone things ‘aren’t going to plan’ with Crimea, it’s ‘not working out for Russia’, etc.

The Annexation of Crimea isn’t going as Planned – Foreign Policy, 2017 – in which there is a beyond tenuous linking of the trial of a Crimean Tatar extremist, and Crimea itself. A real stretch.

Lily Hyde: The annexation of Crimea isn’t going as planned

Another favourite, that Crimea is somehow, ‘hard to access’, is also a theme, see the BBC here, from 2017.

Do a search for flights to Crimea, from anywhere, on any search engine, see for yourself how many hundreds there are…

That Crimea is somehow ‘dangerous’, also a favourite Crimea-meme – even the UK’s official travel advice warns against visiting to Crimea and that ‘tensions remain high’…

Here we have leading New Zealand travel website Stuff.co.nz – in 2017 – telling us that active war is going in Crimea,

Fighting between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian-backed armed separatists is common in both the eastern and southeastern regions of the Ukraine, more specifically, the regions of Donetsk oblast, Luhansk oblast, and Crimea. Civilians continue to get caught up in the fighting.

No kind of war ever took place in Crimea as it rejoined Russia in 2014. I’m in Crimea just now, and don’t take my word for how calm Crimea is just now – listen to some Ukrainains here:

However, one thing’s for sure, the information war wages around, and on Crimea, and the west have chosen their weapon – lies. 

The UK and Ukraine: A Guide in 5 Videos

The UK’s unconditional support of Euromaidan:

The UK’s involvement in the Ukraine war: 

The UK won’t listen to a word about what Ukraine’s actually doing in Donbass:

The UK apply an outrageous double-standard about those Brits who took arms in the Ukraine war: 

The UK are telling you absolute lies about Donbass:

BBC Hit Piece, My Response To It …

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):

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/17/bbc-its-fake-news-and-always-no-from-me/

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/07/21/why-the-bbc-have-come-after-me/

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!

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

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… 

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. 

BBC: It’s Fake News, and Always No, from Me.

Another enquiry comes today, to speak to the BBC. And the answer, for the stated reasons, is, as it will ever be. No! (Photo added, for illustration)

Hi Graham,

My name’s Sam Bright – I work for the BBC in London.

I’m currently writing a story for BBC Trending about the work of individuals such as Patrick Lancaster, Russell Bentley and yourself in eastern Ukraine.

We would obviously be interested in speaking to you for this story, to hear your views. We would like to ask you generally about your experiences, and about how you use the internet to fund your work and spread your message.

Let me know if this would be possible. I look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks,

Sam Bright
Reporter | BBC Trending
Email: sam.bright@bbc.co.uk

My answer:

Sam,

No offence to you personally, as I don’t know you, and you may be a nice guy, but the BBC are a shower of despicable, disgraceful, disgraced propagandists, not to be trusted in any circumstances. And so my response would be something like: shame on you bunch of lying, propagandising scoundrels for bringing journalism into disrepute, and my country into disrepute. Where are your morals, ethics, or integrity? How can you be so entirely dishonest in your coverage, and reportage? It’s rank deceit.

The BBC is fake news, outright lies, and I’m having absolutely no part of your odious operation, in any way. Actually, you disgust me. I always work to report the truth – that means I work against the BBC, who work to twist, and distort the truth, at every turn.

I think that covers it for now,

Graham