Pro-Ukraine Troll Blasts Ukrainian Authorities after God-Daughter is Killed

In February of 2015, Twitter user @Natalyp72 wrote an abusive message, directed, to the city of Lugansk, Donbass, which in 2014 had endured a hellish campaign of shelling by the Ukrainian military in 2014, with mass loss of life.

She wished those who had voted out of Ukraine (after the terrorist coup of Euromaidan installed a far-right government in Ukraine, in early 2014), to be, in strong terms ‘cursed‘.

Last Friday, September 15th, fire broke out at the Victoria children’s camp, in Odessa. The fire engulfed one of the three-story wooden dorms, three girls perished, burned alive.

Firefighters complained that putting out the first was made very difficult by there being no emergency water sources on the territory of the children’s facility (praised by Ukrainian president Poroshenko in May as being ‘excellent’), and the pressure from the fire hydrant was weak, the fire reservoir had insufficient water, and was blocked. Firefighters could only find water supply over a kilometre from the campus, taking over two hours to extinguish the flames. Too late for the 3 young girls, aged 8,9 and 12, with a further two children injured in the dorm, which housed 42.

Mikhail Vovka, from the Federal State Dispatch Service for Odessa region, told reporters on Saturday, that the management of the camp had terminated their contract with a fire safety monitoring company. Therefore, when the fire started, no alarm had sounded.

In 2016, a modern fire alarm was purchased, installed and put into operation in the camp, but then it was deliberately brought to a non-operational state,” Vovka said, as reported by the Odessa Life portal.

Angry crowds of relatives, and more have protested outside Odessa City Hall, demanding answers (pictured). The tragic blaze has seen an investigation opened, mass sackings of senior staff there, several officials in local government dismissed, arrests even, of camp staff. There has also been anger at Ukrainian president Poroshenko, who hasn’t even bothered to visit Odessa, and has barely spoken of the tragedy. (Perhaps the lack of possibility to blame Russia influencing his inaction).

In the blaze, Twitter user @Natalyp72 ‘s god-daughter, Nastya, 9, persished. Natalyp72 (Natalya) tweeted in fury ‘Those scumbags forgot about the children there! They were trapped, and burned alive!

Condolences to Natalya on her loss. I went to her Twitter account, only to see she’d blocked me, despite our never having interacted. She seems to have removed her tweet of abuse directed at Lugansk, from 2015, but a number of similar, often fairly extreme pro-Ukraine tweets.

Sadly for Natalya, she’s found out, that in this Ukraine of 2017, not even children in a children’s camp described as ‘exemplary’ by the president of Ukraine, are safe.

Ukraine’s Kiev Falls into World’s Least Liveable Cities… and the Diplomatic Reaction…

What was Kiev like pre-Euromaidan? I lived there myself for 2 years, worked at a magazine in the city, knew the city well:

It was a good place to live, had cleaned its act up in the run up to Euro 2012, along with all the new infrastructure that had gone with that. Fancy hotels were opening, I even reviewed one on a gig, investment was rising. Things were fine.

What’s happened to Ukraine, post-Euromaidan? Economic collapse, national debt is rising, corruption is rising, corruption is institutionalisedUkraine has become kind of a dumping-ground for ex-jihadists, can’t even get Ryanair to fly into it, economy run by ‘economic hitmen‘, has become either one of, or even the poorest country in Europehealth system in crisis, an unreformed penal system, a tuberculosis epidemic

There are things like the ongoing farce with Saakashvili. He’s the governor of Odessa Poroshenko ally, then he’s not. Then he’s an opposition leader. Then he’s had his Ukrainian passport revoked. Then he’s in the USA telling everyone about how awful Ukraine is (but, Russia is ‘worse’, of course). Then he’s in Poland saying he’ll come and rescue Ukraine… it goes on, and on ….

And to add to that, Ukraine’s capital Kiev has now plunged into one of the 10 Least Liveable Cities in the World – Economist Intelligence Unit finds –

10. Kiev, Ukraine47.8/100 points. The capital of Kiev saw the biggest decline in terms of liveability — 21.4 points — of all 140 cities surveyed. It is the also the only European city in the 12 that scored below 50 points. The city is still in a recovery that remains under threat from unrest, economic instability, and the ongoing civil war taking place in the Donbass region.

Occupying the next places, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe. What does the UK’s LGBT-obsessed ambassador Judith Gough have to say to this? It’s hard to agree – I see that Kiev is getting better, not worse! 

In diplomatic world, as ever, bad = good where Ukraine is concerned….

My video Reportage from Kharkov: 14th March, 2014

I know we live in an age, or rather the age of ‘open source’, etc, journalism. But I still believe that if you want to know about a situation, the best way is to go for yourself. 

So it was, 3 years ago today, I was still travelling round the east of Ukraine, as it was (travelling some 5000km in a week, filming reportage, simply for my YouTube channel, from over a dozen places).

Without further ado, just as it was, 3 years ago today, the city of Kharkov

My Reportage from Donetsk – 12th March, 2014

Exactly 3 years ago, I was in Donetsk, albeit not for the first time:

Yet this time, 3 years ago, of course, things were a bit different. It was March 2014, (former) president Yanukovych had recently been ousted, Euromaidan had declared victory and installed an unelected, far-right government in power.

In Donbass, a region which had notabily either not supported Maidan, or been in direct opposition to it, no one quite knew what to expect next.

At the time, I was living in Odessa, and, feeling a time of history, and a moment to be seized, I wrapped up things there (I had a teaching business, to supplement my journalism) and in my car, headed east, simply for myself, to see for myself what was happening.

So, this is my reportage from Donetsk, 3 years ago today. At the time, I was trying to do every piece in English, so (in almost all) where someone speaks Russian, I then translate, or attempt to, my Russian of the time was not the best!

These videos are all unedited, the mood from the streets, and more, things just how they were at that moment in time, which turned out to be a moment in history as less than a month later, I was back in Donetsk, and conflict had already begun.

So, without further ado:

Lenin Square –

By the statue of Lenin itself:

And, finally, by the city’s administrative building –

And that’s that!

Saakashvili – Lost at Sea in Odessa

Graham Phillips

As he stood by Odessa’s port on Monday, readying to deliver a resignation speech, as governor of Odessa, which would launch a broadside against Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili looked considerably older than his 48 years. He looked a very long way indeed from the once dashing figure, electrifying the global political scene with pledges to bring Georgia into the sphere of modern Europe.

In fact, he bore more than a passing resemblance to Michael Henchard, the main character saakashvili-odessa-1in Thomas Hardy’s ‘Mayor of Casterbridge‘, worn down by successive failures, as he issues a weary ‘I am to suffer, I perceive’.

Saakashvili prides himself on being an educated man, speaking five languages – but it’s unknown if he’s a fan of the work of titan of English literature, Thomas Hardy. If he were, he’dve recognised his 18 month tenure as the governor of Odessa beset by the kind of foreboding background Hardy used to set the mood for tragedy to come. In October of 2015, coming on for six months of his reign, a civilian passenger boat capsized in Odessa, with the loss of at least 12 lives, the worst maritime disaster of its kind in post-Soviet Ukraine. Saakashvili rushed back from his trip to the western Ukrainian city of Lvov to be there, but there were already comments at that time that it would be better if he hadn’t bothered. 

Almost exactly a year later, in October of 2016, Odessa was lashed by extreme storms, leaving at least three dead, again, the worst of its kind in post-Soviet Ukraine. Meanwhile, Saakashvili’s own time at the helm of Odessa lurched from crisis to disaster to catastrophe, before on Monday he walked the gangplank.

saakashvili-tieThere may be not be an image quite as iconic as Saakashvili eating his tie upon realising he’d misjudged his South Ossettia military action of 2008, but his ill-fated time in Odessa leaves a legacy of embarrassments, memes, unfulfilled pledges, and the feeling that almost everything he touched there turned to failure.

His appointment on May 30th 2015, came somewhat out of the blue. Saakashvili had been an enthusiastic cheerdleader for Euromaidan, but in the aftermath of that, had actually moved to the USA, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. February of 2015 saw him called to Ukraine, initially sitting on a fairly inconsequential advisory panel for a couple of months at the start of the year, in April he turned down the chance to become First Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, stating his unwillingness to rescind his Georgian passport to take up Ukrainian. But then May, suddenly everything had changed. The former close ally of George W. Bush jr was hurriedly rolled out a Ukrainian passport on May 29th, appointed porohenko-saakashviligovernor of Odessa.

Tbilisi native Saakashvili was the first non-Ukrainian by birth to be named to head of what is in effect a provincial government. The post was made vacant largely because previous incumbent, Igor Palytsia, was an ally of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, with whom Poroshenko had had a very public falling out, before effecting a purge of those loyal to him.

According to Poroshenko, his old friend (from university days) Saakashvili “has proven with deeds, not words that he can not only give birth to creative ideas, but also put them into practice.” He added Georgia’s ex-president had changed his country “in the direction of transparency, effectiveness, anti-corruption, appeal for foreign investors, fair justice, protection of citizen’s rights, democracy,” something Poroshenko “would like to see very much” in Odessa.

And so it was, the man who made a venomous hatred for Russia one of his calling cards, saakashvili-putinfrequently calling Russians ‘barbarians’, and personal vendetta against Putin ‘I hate Putin’, was appointed governor of a city in which pro-Russia demonstrations would easily outnumber pro-Ukrainian, before the brutal events of May 2nd 2014, the burning of Trade Union House with mass loss of life on side of pro-Russian protesters, and subsequent campaign of repression against them.

Saakashvili’s appointment saw him posting an ‘I heart Odessa’ status on his Facebook, and indeed the US were so happy with the appointment they promptly offered to foot the bill for the salaries of Saakashvili and his team. In the city which was once considered the fourth city of the Russian empire, Saakashvili started out by making the obligatory big noises about plans to make Odessa the most powerful port in the Black Sea, and so forth.

Yet, the man known as ‘Misha”s professed love was never reciprocated by locals – he met with a decidedly choppy response from Odessites, from the start, with the mishiko-go-homeblack sea residents, famous for their laconic sense of humour, taking to hanging ties on landmarks around the city. July of 2015 saw anti-Maidan activists marching a goat through the city with placards declaring ‘Saakashvili Go Home’, and acvitists stating:’ Activists continued their protest campaign a few days later, this time launching a giant red balloon featuring his image and the phrase ‘Mishiko Go Home!’, complete with a large red necktie dangling from his mouth. Then in August of 2015, an actual statue of Saakashvili, taking the role of dog to Obama’s master, appeared on the city’s iconic Primorsky Boulevard.


Meanwhile, on the more serious side, reports emerged of Saakashvili, along with being wanted by his own country’s prosecutors for embezzlement, abuse of power and politically-motivated attacks, also wanted for murder in Georgia.  Things only got worse with the appointment of his team, a self-consciously ‘star-studded’ line-up looking more akin to the judging panel on a tv talent show than those capable of managing a port-and-resort city of 1 million which had derived much of its former prosperity from hundreds of thousands of yearly Russian visitors.

The appointment of Maria Gaidar as deputy governor, a glamorous, young Russian opposition maria-gaidar-odessafigure, was one Saakashvili likely thought would be a hit. He even stated she was ready to rescind her Russian citizenship, and apply for Ukrainian. However she fell at the first hurdle, when refusing to say that Ukraine was at war with Russia in interview, attracting the ire of Ukraine’s media, and Euromaidan supporters who had trumpeted Saakashvili’s appointment as a triumph. Ukrainian parliament member and former deputy governor of Dnepropetrovsk Borys Filatov, famous for his “we will hang the scum” line regarding Crimeans seeking independence from Ukraine, responded harshly to Gaidar’s stance

They simply don’t give a **** about our country. They are making money here. Or are fulfilling their sick ambitions. Or are training themselves ‘on cats.’ Choose the option for their motivation yourself,” Filatov posted on Facebook.

Then there was Saakashvili’s obsession with Yulia Marushevska- activist and aspiring actress best known for her part in Euromaidan promotional video ‘I am a Ukrainian‘ in Saakashvili OdessaFebruary of 2014. She spent most of her time after that appearing on chat shows speaking about that, until Saakashvili seemingly spotted her political potential, making her third in command in his team. It’s unclear what she did in her months in this job, but in any case, in October of 2015, Saakashvili promoted her to Customs Chief for Odessa, in charge of the biggest port insert.

Saakashvili’s other appointment to deputy,  Afghan war hero Vladimir Zhmak, also had no experience in civil service, something an enthusiastic Saakashvili saw as a plus, posting on his Facebook that their lack of experience was a good thing because my goal is to bring new, fresh, uncorrupted, competent people.”

Yulia Marushevska Odessa 1What happened? Gaidar’s tenure was an unmitigated disaster, alienating even those who had supported Saakashvili, with her backing out of taking Ukrainian citizenship, resigning in a hail of protest in May of 2016.  Zhmak signed off in July of 2016 with a cheerful ‘Goodbye Odessa’ message on his Facebook. Marushevska has proved incompetent spilling into inept in her role as customs chief, embroiled in endless internecine conflict, with Odessa’s port practices stuck in the past, and revenues actually decreasing by 30 percent, while in Ukraine as a whole, revenues were reported as up 21 percent. Marushevska is now reported to be considering her own position. 

What were Saakashvili’s other big ideas for reform? Fire everyone, call them all ‘useless’, employ new and untested people. Unfortunately for Saakashvili, his new people turned out to be just as, if not more ‘useless’ than their predecessors, and he failed in making any headway in his ‘war against corruption’. 

saakashvili-odessa-busInitial, PR-winning stunts, such as his taking public transport to ‘touch base with locals’, petered out. By October of 2015, locals who’d opened precious wine in honour of his appointment were beating a path to his door to berate him. And after his candidate for mayor, Alexander Borovyk, was defeated, by Gennadiy Trukhanov (who Saakashvili had frequently, publicly slated), in October of 2015, Saakashvili largely withdrew from the Odessa scene.

Meanwhile things had quickly unravelled for Saakashvili with other government figures. In December of 2015, at a government meeting, he got into a heated argument with interior minister Arsen Avakov, that ended with Avakov throwing a glass of water at Saakashvili, who retorted that Avakov was a “thief” who would go to prison. Avakov later described Saakashvili as a “bonkers populist”

Even a western media inclined to be more than benevolent to Saakashvili had long changed their tune on him, by the time of his resignation. Polish press were writing in February of 2016, that ‘His work so far has failed to bring any spectacular successes in any of the priority areas of activity.’ This article in Foreign Policy, from October 2016, painted a prophetic pictured of a man defeated. The Ukrainian press were stronger still, a Ukrainian saakashvili-odessa-2journalist writing in October of 2015 that Saakashvili was ‘dull’ and ‘stank’. 

The writing was on the line in May of this year, when Saakashvili gave an interview to Shaun Walker of the Guardian, calling Ukraine’s government a ‘bunch of mediocre people’, with ‘no vision for reform’, and openly criticising his former ally, Poroshenko. The article predictably made waves, causing Saakashvili to issue a statement that Walker, his ‘longtime friend’, had ‘clearly perverted’ their conversation. Walker, however, stuck by his article, with dictaphone recording to back it up.

Much of what Saakashvili said in his resignation, blasting the Kiev government, singling out President Petro Poroshenko, saying he had been complicit in obstructing various reforms, had clearly well fomented when he spoke with Walker in May. But the vitriol had only increased with the passing of months, as he blasted: ‘“What difference for Ukrainians does it make who will treat them like dirt: Poroshenko or Yanukovych; what difference who will steal from them?”’

Having made some effort to speak Ukrainian during his tenure, Saakashvili reverted to the Russian he knows better for his signing-off salvo –

Saakashvili’s taking on the role in Odessa was largely motivated by his desire to escalate his personal (somewhat one-sided) battle with Putin. He leaves the post, with harsher words about the man who employed him, Poroshenko. He leaves with almost all of his much-vaunted reforms, and project, having ignominiously failed. As Walker wrote ‘The sad demise of Saakashvili and his bold new vision‘. He wrote that in 2008. Time moves on, but Saakashvili’s ‘bold new visions’ always seem to end the same way.

And so it is, like Michael Henchard, after another failure, Saakashvili sets off again.

2 Years On – the 12 ‘Triumphs’ of Euromaidan

Graham Phillips

Two years on from the ‘end‘ of Maidan, here are some of its ‘triumphs’. This column written in the style of my ‘Euromaidan 12 Myths and Mantras’ of late 2013, which brought me to the attention of RT. 

  1. Ukraine immediately lost Crimea. Crimea was having none of the radical Euromaidan coup government installed in Kiev after former President Yanukovych fled on February 22nd, a protest rose, a referendum was held – Crimea was gone for good, and it’s never looked back.
  2. war in DonbassA brutal war broke out in Donbass, which has claimed casualties estimated by some sources as over 50,000, causing massive amounts of destruction, and misery in its wake. (My photo from Lugansk, August 2014, right)
  3. Unemployment is up, way up, from 7.25% in 2013 to 11.47% in 2015. Prior to that, it had been falling year on year.  Economic growth at 0.2% in 2012, 0% in 2013, sunk to -6.8% for 2014, with 2015 set for another fall.
  4. Actually, all the figures in Ukraine have got worse. GDP, from $4195 in 2013 to $3016 in 2014, public debt as a % of GDP from 39.9% in 2013 to 70.3% in 2014. Investment, at 5% in 2012 plunged to -8.4% in 2013 and dived to -23% in 2014. The list goes on, and on.
  5. UAHIt’s down, and going down, the International Business Times report ‘Ukraine’s gross domestic product was expected to fall by 12 percent by the end of this year, further than the 7.5 percent predicted in April’ – meanwhile industrial output is down over 20%, consumption down 20%, retail is down 25%. The Ukrainian hryvnia is, across the board, worth about a third what it was before Euromaidan. Real wages are down 34%.
  6. There is something going upinflation, over 40%, meanwhile gas has skyrocketed 453%, with Ukraine on the perpetual brink of gas crisis, unable to pay its bills and, due to the ‘everything that Russia does must be bad‘ ethos of Euromaidan, finding it hard to accept olive branches, such as Russia’s recent offer of a restructuring of its $3 billion debt.
    Ukraine Russia gasUkraine’s gas negotiations have been defined by ungracious bickering from the Ukrainian side, disinformation about how much it’s used, needs, and reference to having made payments which the Russian side then state they haven’t received.
  7. Olez BuzinaThe weapons which flooded Maidan spilled into the rest of the country, with murder in Ukraine now a far common occurrence than it was – the gunning down of journalist Oles Buzina in Kiev, in April, the recent assassination attempt on the chief Ukrainian MH17 investigator in Kiev. RT report –
    Reports of military explosives used in crimes committed far from the rebel-controlled east come virtually on a weekly basis in Ukraine. On July 30, a hand grenade was tossed into the yard of a house in Cherkassy in the center of the country…. On July 2, an Odessa restaurant was seriously damaged by a powerful IED, which also shattered windows in a nearby café and apartments.Ukraine is never calm. There’s regular explosions and chaos in Kharkov, Odessa, riots in Kiev.
  8. Ukraine exists in perpetual chaos – yesterday, activists storming, smashing up Fullscreen capture 21022016 213752.bmpbanks in Kiev (right), last week terrorist group Pravy Sektor took over the borders of the country, imposing a trade blockade, before that activists blowing up power supply to Crimea. Video, from Alfa Bank in Kiev, 20th February, here –
    There never seems any real aim in the destruction, just destroy first, don’t even bother picking the pieces up, because there’s still something more to destroy.
    Maidan installed a new government not by democracy, but by violence. Violent activists became more powerful than government. And that’s been the legacy of Maidan since – violent activists can do what they want, and no one in power can stop them, because they know if they did, they’d be turned on next.
  9. The politics is a mess, and corruption is even worse. President Poroshenko’s approval ratings are lower than Yanukovich’s at the time of Euromaidan, 17% down from 47% , Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s rating around 1%, but even so, Poroshenko yatscouldn’t force him out last week, moving journalist Chris Miller, known for near fanatical support of Euromaidan, to write a grim assessment of Ukraine two years on in his article on MashableUkraine’s post-revolution government is falling apart‘ the tone set by –
    With Ukraine embroiled in perhaps its worst-ever political crisis…
    US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoff Pyatt
    , whose support for Euromaidan stopped just short of his mounting the barricades to scream ‘Slava Ukraine’ tweets incessantly, seemingly despairingly about the apparently losing battle against corruption – (pictured here with Victoria Nuland, on Maidan in late 2013) –Geoff Pyatt MaidanFeb 11 Important for Ukrainian government to restore trust, continue on reform path, tackle corruption.
    Feb 15 –  deserves a clean judiciary. Will require top-to-bottom rule of law reform to address pervasive corruption + cronyism.
    Feb 17 – This Washington Post editorial gets it just right on the issues of corruption and deoligarchization in Ukraine
    Feb 20 – The most fitting memorial to the Heavenly 100 is a Ukraine rid of corruption, cronyism, & kleptocracy. @GeoffPyatt
    This, not even starting on his retweets on the theme. Meanwhile Kiev mayor, former boxer Vitali Klitschko, was recently accused by FEMEN of running a protection racket for local brothels.
    And of all industries, the funeral parlour business is in the grip of such corruption it moved this, pro-Ukrainian, journalist to write this heartfelt piece about what happened when his father died in Ukraine.
    Ukraine funeral parlour
  10. Ukraine can’t hold proper elections any more. There’s farce, almost 50 candidates with names from Star Wars, with one – Emperor Palpatine – actually winning a seat in October’s elections, then there’s the fact that of the 130 political blocs and parties that competed in the elections, just a dozen actively campaigned in two or more regions, showing local oligarchs in full control.Turnout was an anaemic 45%, down a third on the 60% of presidential elections the year before.
    Ukraine Local elections Mariupol If an election doesn’t look like it’s going to go the Kiev government’s way, as was recently the case in Mariupol (above, October 2015), the Kiev government, or local ‘activists’ will just cancel it.
  11. The Ukrainian government does things to hurt Russia which end up hurting its own citizens even more. The 2015 banning of flights between Ukraine and Ukraine Russia flights bannedRussia forced Ukrainian travellers to pay $200 rather than $50 to travel there – 70% of passengers on Ukraine to Russia flights had been Ukrainian citizens, with some 5 million Ukrainians working in Russia. Meanwhile, while Russia can do without Ukrainian airports, Ukrainian carriers had previously used Russian airports for connecting global flights.
  12. People are fleeing the country – to escape poverty, to get out of mobilisation into the military –  ‘Poland, last year, received 2,318 asylum applications from Ukraine, compared to 46 in 2013. It also issued 830,553 short-term visas for Ukrainian border traders and migrant workers, compared to 720,125 the year before.’
    And that’s Euromaidan Ukraine, 2 years on.

The Terrorist Article Which Changed my Life

Graham Phillips

Euromaidan kicked off in 21st November 2013, and fair to say I was against it from day 1. I’d lived in Kiev, seen first hand the elements behind Euromaidan Svoboda(Svoboda, right), and none of it washed with me. President Yanukovych may have been unpopular with factions in Ukraine, but his 2010 election was described by observers as an ‘impressive display of democracy‘. As for the 2012 parliamentary election, whatever else is said about them, the observers from the European Academy for Elections Observation (most of whom where European Parliament members), stated it was “a good election, not perfect but clearly acceptable”.

Euromaidan rolled on through winter, then ramped up in January with the 1Euromaidanviolent rioting of January 19th, on Kiev’s Grushevskogo street, which I was witness to. January 22nd saw the first deaths, Mikhail Zhyzneuski, a native of Belarus, and Serhiy Nihoyan, an ethnic Armenian. Attention focused in in Nihoyan, 21, of Bereznovativka, a small village near Dnipropetrovsk, in the east of Ukraine, with mass portrayal of him as a ‘fallen hero of Maidan’ etc. I saw things rather differently, actually I saw him as a troubled, and troubling, young man, with military training, and an affiliation to terrorist groups. I wrote a blog post stating that he was a terrorist.

My blog had been running for over a year by this time, I’d published a couple of hundred posts, and it had been growing in popularity, from dozens, to hundreds, Sergey Nihoyanto sometimes thousands of hits in a day. A new post would likely attract a couple of hundred hits on its first day, if a good day. My post, given the provocative title ‘Good News – Terrorist Killed in Kiev‘, immediately lit the touchpaper. That title, not meant to be gratuitously incendiary, rather to provide a polar position to the mass-purported version of Nihoyan as some sort of a slain hero. I’d been on Maidan, seen protesters hurling missiles, and molotovs as riot police took cover behind shields. Protesters had already moved onto guns by the time of Nihoyan’s death. There can be no doubt that the police on Maidan made mistakes, but they were also mostly young men. However they had the law on their side, and an order not to allow a violent mob to overthrow the government of Ukraine.

Whatever opinion there is of the former Ukrainian president and government Yanukovych Azarov(left, Yanukovych and former Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov), as they were, and the democracy which elected them, there can be no denying that they were far more democratic than the Euromaidan which overthrew them. Even if you put the figure of those protesters on Maidan as a generous 500,000, it’s still only 1% of Ukraine’s population. And the militant contingent which brought about the president, and government’s downfall, on February 22nd, just a couple of thousand. A couple of thousand, like Sergey Nihoyan. I called him a terrorist then, I’ll call him a terrorist now.

Of course the world is very different now, my own life is very different. And that column was instrumental in the latter. A stream of hate rained down upon me, hundreds of comments and messages with every single form of abuse birthdayimaginable. Now, I have a lot of supporters across the world. Then, I was new, and many still hadn’t fully decided what to make of Maidan, I had few real supporters, perhaps one or two comments shared my sentiments.

The rest, just a tirade of vitriol. I remember sitting with my mum, having gone back to the UK, then France, for my birthday (on my birthday here), comments pinging in pouring hatred, death wishes. My mum looking over my shoulder, just saying to me ‘Graham, what have you done…‘ I was a bit shocked by the level of venom, but, believed in, stood by what I’d written. Actually, the level of hatred fired me up, made more more determined to express things exactly as I saw them.

I returned to Ukraine shortly afterwards, and things were never quite the same. I’d taken the decision to live down in Odessa, understanding there would be less Graham Odessajournalism work than in Kiev, but that compensated for by living in the amazing city of Odessa itself, learning Russian, more time to work on longer-term projects, books etc (myself pictured in Odessa here). As it was, there turned out to be next to no journalism work down in Odessa – there was just nothing of sufficient note happening there I could, as a freelancer, pitch in. So, I’d started my own business, beginning English lessons at an IT firm, Ciklum, becoming the sole teacher there, giving corporate classes.

And, if i do say so, I’d been making a pretty good living. Then, Euromaidan came along, and from the start, I didn’t support it. I actually thought my career as a journalist was over due to the divergence in my position and that of, it seemed, every other western correspondent. So, I didn’t even bother pitching articles in, but I was active in my views on Facebook, on my blog. These views started to clash with some of the students of Ciklum, many of whom had subscribed to the Euromaidan promise of a fast ticket into Europe, the associated glamour of the ‘revolution’ added by an instantly sold western, and Ukrainian press. (Myself Ciklum studentswith some Ciklum students, in happier times)

The secretary of Ciklum was a Maidan supporter, had started messing my classes around. The Euromaidan-supporting students were incensed that I, as a westerner wasn’t only not supporting the on-trend Maidan, but was an active critic of it. They had started not only boycotting my classes, but putting pressure on those other non-Maidan students to do so. Yet in all of this, I was hanging in there. I’d lost students, so streamlined my groups, and was getting through it. But, after the ‘terrorist’ article, I came back to a different office. Those previously against me now absolutely hated me, the pressure on those other students attending my lessons ramped up to where they were almost running a gauntlet to get to my classes.

I fought through the first couple of weeks of February, but it was getting tougher by the day – conspiracies going on behind my back to oust me, group emails pinging around the company looking to take me down, the collapsing hryvnia meaning it was necessary to renegotiate the rates of my lessons, but the company secretary making this entirely impossible. This was all coupled with my own losing interest in teaching, viewing it only as taking time from the journalism I wanted to be doing, having become a regular contributor for RT who found me Crimea Graham Phillipsthrough one of my blog posts, as action started to shift down in the Odessa direction. I began tweeting more, stating my intention to go to Crimea (pictured here on March 1st, Simferopol), as it rose up against Euromaidan’s unelected new power. Through this, I received a $500 offer to write an article for Politico magazine, along with an RT appearance.

I went down to Crimea, covered events there, came back to Odessa, ploughed on teaching for a few days, with some ex-students now openly rude to me. Yet, this didn’t bother me so much. I was fired up, focused. At the end of the first week, my mind abuzz with the need to cover everything that was going on, feeling something in the air, I quit my job at Ciklum, took the $500 from Politico, and set off to drive all over the east of Ukraine…

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