⚡ Moscow Filming Finished – Moscow Film to Come! ⚡

Happy to say that after 2 incredibly busy, productive weeks in Moscow, I’ve finished filming for my special new documentary about the city, the first in a series of exclusive, independent documentaries about Russia, in the context of the World Cup 2018. Here’s a teaser –

Why is this series necessary? Well, at this time, with the World Cup coming up and the eyes of the world soon to train on Russia, rather than Russian politics even, what have we been told about Russia by the media? Well, there was Simon Reeve’s BBC hit-job last year, following on from Reggie Yates similar one, aimed at the yoof market. Then, any number of negative western media reports, of course the BBC’s ongoing campaign to show you only negative about Russia.

While in Moscow, I had a look at this theme, in this exclusive report, about ‘Russian hooligans at the World Cup 2018’, as in British media, versus reality.

So, that’s why! To present Russia as it really is. As this historic World Cup dawns on us, to show you the reality of Russia beyond the propaganda. And what will be the result? Several, professional documentaries, freely available to all, on my YouTube channel. And, not only that, regular video blogs, to bring you along for the journey!

Of course, video blogs are just a part of it, to keep you updated. There must also be professional documentaries – this isn’t just video blogging but a serious project, with production that should even better the propaganda rivals – despite being done on a fraction of the budget – this is all completely crowdfunded, independent, journalism. And on that note, here’s my thanks to some of those who’ve supported –

You can support in one click, here – https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips – and it’s the support of people who click here that makes it all possible!

Here’s the first proper docu-film from Moscow, all about a day on the world’s most beautiful Metro system, and in just a few days it’s raced to near 5000 views already!

Huge thanks for being with me, making it happen, bringing truth to the world, from Russia with love, and there’s a lot more coming up soon!

⚡ Exclusive Interview with Mike Barson from Madness! Russia, Skripal, Putin, Donbass, More!

Those who know me, or knew me growing up would tell you one thing – I was Madness‘ number 1 fan, going to every concert I could, buying every Madness record I could – even if the cost of one, if a rarity, could be most of what I earned in a month on my paper round.

(Myself in a Madness t-shirt, right, 1994)

In 2014, while working in Donbass, I began receiving messages, on Twitter from a ‘Mike Barson’, saying how much he supported my work, and on (read all the messages here). 2014, 2015 was an extremely busy, intense, stressful time – I remember just running the whole time trying to either film something in Donbass, usually the scene of shelling, or the frontlines, or the MH17 site, and more.

(Mike Barson, in an early incarnation of Madness, the Invaders).

I remember briefly having a look at his Twitter page, but did I believe that one of my childhood heroes was really writing to me, supporting my work? Not for a moment, I thought someone who knew what a Madness fan I was, was having some fun at my expense. I wasn’t biting, hardly replied to his messages.

In 2016, I had a bit more time, and decided to look into it. And, well, it turned out really to be Mike Barson. And this here really is his Twitter account. Mike graciously agreed to forgive my reticence of 2014, and give me an interview. Here it is.

GP: I have to ask on a personal level, when you first started supporting my work, and even wrote to me, you are aware that I couldn’t believe it was the real Mike Barson. Does this happen to you a lot, and how do you respond to that?

MB: With great patience 🙂

GP: On Twitter, you have your own account, and seem to chat with all your fans. In the 90s, I recall sending off quite a few letters to fan club addresses, perhaps you never got them. How do you feel about this new accessibility?

MB: Yeah we got a lot more ways to keep in touch these days! I try to answer a few things when I have time tho it’s not always possible.

GP: When fans and so find you on Twitter, they may be surprised that your views are not what we may expect of a celebrity, I say this in my own sphere of Donbass, and Russia. How would you define your views, broadly if so, and how do fans, and others respond to them?

MB: Well I’m not a fan of injustice and hypocrisy and not sure if I’m a celebrity (whatever that is?) but whatever one is in this day and age I feel its one’s duty to speak out as Einstein apparently said…

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing”

It seems now more than ever this is a pertinent statement.

What happened in Ukraine was anything but democratic – a violent coup (my picture from Maidan, left) such as took place in Kiev would never in a month of Sundays have been allowed in a European or American city and yet it was cheered on by the so called ‘international community’ and in particular by many American government officials. It lead to a dangerous schism throughout the country.

This illegal undertaking has been the cause of much suffering for the people of Ukraine and many many innocent people being killed (many of which you yourself have documented) the tragic shooting down of a civilian aircraft above Donbass (why was air traffic not stopped above a war zone??? – obviously because it was a war they were pretending wasn’t happening) and then finally having voted Crimea was returned to the Russian federation.

(My photos from MH17, above, and Crimea in March 2014, below)

It’s difficult to argue that this was not other than Russia’s responsibility-duty to protect the historic Russian people of Crimea and the naval base from the danger arising in the aftermath of the coup which was made vividly apparent by the military attacking their own people – a scandal of grotesque proportions that was hardly reported in western mainstream news. One cannot but notice how the coup in particular is very rarely mentioned which skews the whole question of the situation there.

So seeing this injustice, seeing the results the shelling/killing of –
old ladies in their apartments/houses, going about their ordinary business, shopping etc, and young kids playing football etc and seeing it all ignored in the west is shocking and makes one wonder.

When looking into these affairs also those such as the ghastly Odessa Massacre (picture, right) it’s apparent how these ‘far off places’ are treated very differently in the western press. I could only conclude a kind of racism was taking place against the people in Donbass.

They didn’t matter and yet we destroyed Libya because Gaddafi we were told ‘threatened’ his own people – in Donbass we didn’t seem to have the slightest interest they were being killed by their own army.

So my views are that these events expose an enormous hypocrisy in the western press that is very concerning leaving aside the fact it is totally lacking in any kind of morality. When people are dying as a result of this hypocrisy I feel it is ones duty to call it out if one has the opportunity.

To say nothing of the fact there seems to be a program of demonisation against Russia (Newsweek cover, December 2017) in play that has been repeated many times in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya & Syria even leaving aside the ugly immorality of such subversive propaganda exercises the danger that the world is being pushed into and for the benefit of whom should be of great concern to all rational people.

Do we need WW3? For whose benefit? I’ll be happy when Tony Blair, Bush (pictured) and Cheney are in the dock for previous war crimes committed and country’s work together for their own people and abide by international law.

I don’t know what people expect of a ‘celebrity’ but concerning people who ‘look the other way’ and neither say anything nor engage their brains I guess Mr Einstein spoke on that subject already.

GP: Do you chat about political matters with the band members? If so, how do they respond to this.

(recent promo photo of Madness)

MB: Yeah sometimes, but when the press is giving blanket wall to wall coverage that Putin & Russia is to blame for everything its difficult for people not to be effected as Goebbels said “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”.

GP: Madness are a British institution now, but early on in your career, you got a rough ride from the press. There’s even a scathing Madness song about journalists ‘Don’t Quote Me on That’, which slams into the lies, and lack of ethics of the trade.

Has journalism changed much in the almost 40 years since this song was written? And what made you start following, supporting my work?

MB: Yeah that was an example of where the press used to have a very unfair advantage, they can say what they like and you have no means to respond, these days it seems one has the possibility to respond within social media which is possibly why the mainstream press is going thru hard times?

These days newspapers seem to be rather removed from ordinary people and their concerns though its encouraging that people are reporting independently I guess like yourself.

(Madness in the early days)

Well that’s quite a point actually what I think has changed is that in that time if someone wrote something that wasn’t true in a newspaper…. (the infamous ‘fake news’) you had very little means to respond, its like someone slapping you in the face and you can’t do anything back.

But now with social media people are able to respond to things that are said that are not true and there is suddenly an accountability for journalists and some of them don’t seem to come out in such a great light.

(recent photo of Mike Barson)

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out a while back, in the political world many of them are simply stenographers repeating what they’ve been told – not really journalism. Also it seems that the variety of news stories and opinions have been very diminished where they now act like one big echo chamber.

For example when MH17 was tragically shot down (I used to live in Amsterdam) it was astonishing how all the western press blamed Putin almost before the aeroplane hit the ground – and they blamed him personally.

(The Week, UK magazine, right)

To me this was not logical or rational – (unless you suffer from a deep bias) – Most people were not following the news from East Ukraine so didn’t know there was a war going on and that many military planes were shot down in the preceding weeks. It was clearly not safe.

The worst case rational scenario is that MH17 was mistaken for a military aircraft ie they were defending themselves in a war and mistakenly shot down the jet? There is no sensible rational reason to blame Putin yet that’s exactly what all the press did. Again avoiding the bigger picture of who was actually attacking who.

(Infamous Sun headline, pictured)

All these newspapers were all carrying the exact same illogical argument which makes you question how, why? Either they are full of bias.. or else there is a less savoury reason there was an intention to blame it on Russia for other reasons.

I became interested and started following your work after the overthrow of the government in Kiev. When the troops and tanks started heading east how western governments backed it all when it was so obviously wrong.

(One of my early videos, Slavyansk, April 2014, a local militia blockpost attacked by Ukrainian forces)

I was pretty shocked to see how the EU who were supposed to be guarantors of the agreement between Yanukovych (pictured) and the opposition simply ignored the agreement signed… European values? That incident really put me off the EU. They actually supported a coup – just look how they treat Catalonia now for a taste of hypocrisy.

You were one of the few people reporting on the situation so I started watching your videos. When the Crimea stuff started happening and everyone started talking about the infamous little green men “were they or were they not Russian soldiers” thing was it didn’t really have any relevance to what was happening, a coup had taken place in Kiev! Why was that ok?

(My video from Kiev, January 19th, 2014)

The lack of any greater unbiased perspective in the news (BBC speciality?) shows the narrowness of the debates in MSM these days.

Slowly it became apparent that the US was involved in the overthrow with things like the release of the Pyatt/Nuland tape (below) in which American diplomats were heard discussing who would be allowed in the new Ukrainian government! These facts was totally excluded from the western press not even recognised let alone discussed.

This injustice was racism, not for black people but for poor East Ukrainians. Such a bias in the press and with such disastrous results. Women going shopping killed in their own flats, kids playing football hit my mortar shells, dropping bombs on town halls blowing up innocent women and all these people were simply dropped by western press like Untermenschen. It was reprehensible and no one seemed to care.

So you were one of the few who was recording these events, I consider you did some kind of service to those poor people who died so unjustly in registering what happened to them. One had to cry seeing some of that shit.

(My video, Donetsk, January 2015)

GP: Your music has been an ever-present in my life for about 30 years. During some of the tougher times in Donbass, I remember listening to the song ‘I’ll Compete’.

It’s maybe one of Madness’ lesser-known numbers. Do you have any personal favourites among the perhaps not so well-known Madness canon? And, btw, Michael Caine, the subject of a classic Madness song is also noted for views differing from his contemporaries, do you ever chat with him?

MB: No I never heard Mr Caine was not following the status quo! Unfortunately never got to meet him. We recorded him at an airport for the track Michael Caine – “I think we got it there don’t you” and that was that!

Strange you were playing ‘I’ll Compete’ in that difficult time!

Personal favourites… not so well known songs… “Never Ask Twice” I guess which we played recently at our House of Fun weekender in Butlins in Minehead, and also I like “Around and Around” which is a number that kept its head down thru the years, a sardonic look at ’success’ which I wrote with Mr Lee J Thompson lyricist supreme, that was a b-side from ‘Lovestruck’. There was an old track called ‘Crying Shame’ I have fond memories of –

I remember playing it in Belfast back the 80’s when life was still… full of promise! 🙂

Also Mr Speaker was not bad.

GP: Many have written to me from Russia saying what massive Madness fans they are. Can you tell the story behind your Red Square gig in 1992.

Last year, notably, Robbie Williams pulled all his Russia gigs – would Madness gig there? How do you feel about your Russian fans?

MB: That’s nice to hear we have some fans out there! Red Square 1992, we did a gig that was to be streamed live to Top of the Pops. We stayed in the Rossiya Hotel, biggest hotel in Russia so they said where we stayed had seen its best days.

We had a stage set up right in front of Saint Basil’s Cathedral that was pretty cool. Unfortunately there was no audience and it was bloody cold! We did a radio show or two as well while we were there, It was just after the disintegration of the Soviet Union a very historic period but when Yeltsin was implementing western economic shock therapy they were difficult times.

We also played at the Kubana Festival in 2014 a stones throw from Crimea which I invited you too but unfortunately you gave me a blank at the time (as explained above, and again, sorry – Graham). We flew along the border close to East Ukraine over the clouds on the way back which was very close to where MH17 was shot down and only a month later which was weird and very sad.

GP: I think it was Suggs who said that he couldn’t imagine doing it all when you’re 30. Now, you’re almost 60 yourself Mike (actually, Mike is 60 today, April 21st!), and on a creative high – Can’t Touch Us Now is an incredible piece of work. When some bands come and go in a year, how have Madness stayed going for 40 years? What’s next?

MB: Yeah indeed who would guess all that time ago. I remember seeing a teacher at school who was 40 years old back in the 70’s, i was about 11 thinking what an old git! verging on the end of the road! who could have guessed life begins at… 59! 🙂

I suppose we lasted as we were mates before we formed a band and always got on – even to this day it remains a congenial bunch! ha ha.

(Single from ‘Can’t Touch us Now’, Mr Apples)

We don’t work as full on as we did in the early days (which drives you round the bend). We just finished a tour of Scandinavia and had a most enjoyable time.

Thanks for the kind words regarding the latest album, I think as long as one doesn’t lose touch with ones inspiration and love of music then all those years only improve ones talent like a good wine 🙂 !

We gained a lot of experience over the years so I think were in a good place at the moment.

GP: Apologies if this is indulgent, but I attach a photo of my collection of Madness singles. How would you rate it? (We can do albums another time 🙂


MB:
10 out of 10 for the single collection!

GP: I’m sure people will read this, and come away with things they didn’t know about Mike Barson. They may not also know that you can tell jokes in Dutch.

Is there anything else to know? 🙂

MB: Without a doubt.

As a post-note, I asked Mike his opinion about the Skripal situation: 

I think its horrible what happened to the Skripals, especially his daughter and I hope they will both fully recover.

Regarding the government handling of what happened I find it painful to see British MP’s failing so completely to apply the basics of law in this country – That one is Innocent until proven guilty. Its ugly seeing people baying for revenge without any proof – and then attacking Jeremy Corbyn for posing a rational civilised question simply asking for proof first. Are MP’s barbarians these days? – rather more like clowns!

In a fast-moving situation, Mike has been vocal with his opinion on the Skirpals, Syria, and other themes, find him on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/MikeBarson108

Exclusive New Documentary: The Truth about the Georgian War!


Very pleased to present my new documentary: ⚡
Georgian War, 2008: What Really Happened? Exclusive Documentary!

As ever, it is completely independent, crowdfunded. To support my work, click here. 

My New Project: The Truth about the Georgia War of 2008, 10 Years On

If you’re reading this in the west, you will have no doubt heard a lot about the Georgia war of 2008. 

Georgia ‘overrun’ by Russian troops as full-scale ground invasion begins

Russians march into Georgia as full-scale war looms

BBC – Russian invasion of Georgia 2008

Cartoon, typical of the kind used to illustrate these stories…

Russia invades Georgia while the West watches. How did it come to this?

Bush Slams Russia’s Invasion Of Georgia

Russia invades Georgia

It’s a very convenient agenda for the west, that of ‘Russian invasion’. And so it keeps coming up… re-served to fit contemporary narratives… 

What Russia’s invasion of Georgia means for Crimea

Russia started preparing for aggression against Ukraine right after Georgia war – ex-head of Intel Service

Russia stirs fears of repeat Georgia war in Ukraine

But, what if it wasn’t like that at all? I’m pleased to introduce my upcoming project, Georgia War 2008 – What Really Happened?

All recorded from the scene, South Ossetia! Featuring exclusive new material, interviews, never-before-seen footage from the time. I’m pleased to be working on this with local journalist Ian Gabaraev.

Coming soon on  my YouTube channel, completely independent, funded only by crowdfunding!

Russia: Navalny and his Supporters – Western Press Versus Reality

If you follow the western press on Russia, which if you’re reading this you likely do, you’ll be aware of a figure called Alexey Navalny. You will have read about him in glowing terms. a charismatic anti-corruption campaigner, activist against corruption and for the rule of law etc, are oft-used terms, but western media can often hardly restrain themselves at that, so you will find him described as handsome (NY Times even), handsome , brave and handsome (New Yorker),  handsome, blue-eyed, even (Mashable), handsome man with bright blue eyes and an angular face (Spiegel).

The photos chosen by the western media echo the words, with Navalny always portrayed in handsome, striding, heroic form….

Der Spiegel gush on… ‘He is also a gifted politician, something even his opponents acknowledge, and, as journalists joke among themselves, the best journalist in the country.’ There’s not even the slightest attempt to inject the least objectivity into the piece, as it goes on ‘Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, a man with all the charisma of a file-folder’. …

Meanwhile, when it comes to writing about Navalny, for the western media there’s seemingly no need to support any statements about Navalny – again Der Spiegel –  (but you can find similar across the spectrum of western media,

In 2013, the Kremlin allowed him to run for Moscow mayor, hoping he would embarrass himself… 

Where’s any evidence that was the Kremlin’s intention? In any case, Navalny did run for mayor of Moscow in 2013, and actually did pretty well – coming second, with 28% of the vote. But, despite what the western media may lead you to believe, it’s all been downhill since then.

Not that Navalny’s plunging popularity as a politician at the polls has any bearing on the west’s coverage of him, with Politico blaring in August of 2017 that he was the ‘man who could beat Vladimir Putin at the polls‘. Actually, this is the favourite theme of the west’s, that somehow in a ‘fair election’, Navalny would win, no matter what the actual polls from Russia, and Russians, say.

Actually, independent polls show that Navalny’s rating is just 1% these days. A succession of corruption scandals have taken their toll on the 41-year-old law graduate, in politics since 2000. Indeed there’s a lengthy list of embezzlement charges against Navalny, most notably stealing timber, defrauding Yves Rocher, even.

All of these, along with Navalny becoming more noted for theatrical police detainments, and making a feature of having his face green-dyed (with that, the inevitable Shrek comparisons), than his actual politics, have eroded Navalny’s support base in Russia. Yet, his popularity with the western press is enshrined – we can never read about any charges against Navalny from the west, with the prefix, or suffix, of ‘politically-charged‘, and so on. For them, Navalny is so firmly can ‘do-no-wrong’ that anything against him can only be ‘politically motivated‘. Never mind that Navalny has actually agreed to pay compensation in the Rocher case, and his brother is currently serving a jail term for his involvement.

There are two more key points to bear in mind. Navalny has indeed organised mass rallies in Russia, his biggest one being the anti-Medvedev, Russia’s Prime Minister, on March 26th, 2017. That rally was positioned as an ‘anti-corruption’ action, aimed at Medvedev, with allegations of his having accrued mass wealth. Tens of thousands did turn out for this, across Russia. Medvedev’s popularity is far lower than that of Putin, and the theme of anti-corruption proved a rallying call. (Pictured, St Petersburg)

Yet, in western media, we were told of these protests as ‘anti-Kremlin’, even ‘anti-Putin’, as here, the New York Times – biggest demonstration in five years against President Vladimir V. Putin. The Washington Post took a similar themeThis simply wasn’t the case, Putin wasn’t on the ticket here.

Navalny did recently hold actual anti-Putin demonstrations in Russia. The result? A smattering of protests across the country, and a planned provocation in Moscow. Navalny had asked, and been denied, permission to hold his demonstration in the city’s central Pushkin square, then march along Tverskaya Street (which leads directly to Red Square, Tverskaya pictured).

The refusal to hold the meeting there was entirely unsurprising, given that this is the centre of the city, and any mass meeting, down main city thoroughfares, would either shut off an entire central section of the city, cause mass chaos, or both. Previously, as in 2015, Navalny had held a, sanctioned, meeting in the less central, but far more appropriate area of Marino, in the south of Moscow. 

This time, he rejected all three alternatives offered by the city to him, (alternatives to Pushkin square, and Tverskaya Street), and pushed ahead with holding the demo there, knowing that while police may let it happen, he would surely be detained on arrival, as he was. Much to the delight of the western press, ever ready to conflate ‘detained’ with ‘arrested’ in his case –


Navalny tweeted his way through it as usual, and was soon released. Btw, what tweets Navalny sends too, here – “I have been detained. This means nothing. You are not rallying for me, but for yourselves and your future.” Oh, the martyrdom….

Of course, for the western media, Navalny’s meetings always attract thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands, and we are always told that his supporters are the cream of Russian society, the new intelligent generation of Russians, and so on. Photo here, typical of photos presented as Navalny supporters.

A new generation in Russia is suddenly waking up and taking to the streets to protest corruption in the country. (Spiegel again)

ABCStep aside, Vladimir Putin — a new generation is rising

Well, firstly, let’s have a look at a photo of how the recent, January 28th, meeting was portrayed in the western media, here, CNN

However, a drone view is less flattering, with around a thousand there, and in their number, simply masses of western journalists, who it seems all many of them do is emerge from their Moscow apartment to cover anything they can describe as ‘anti-Putin’, and portray it, as above, as a mass movement –

I was there, filmed the demo, and spoke to the pro-Navalny protesters. It certainly wasn’t my impression that this was the ‘cream of the new generation of Russians‘, and so on. But, you can judge for yourselves, all here, unedited –

I recorded more interviews, in Russian, which make the bold claims we read about Navalny supporters and their proposed boycott of Russia’s upcoming presidential election seem slightly academic, taking into account how many of them were 14 or 15 years old… Russian coverage of Navalny has highlighted his strategy of targeting children to attend his demos, often just along for the want of something, preferably ‘anti-establishment’ to do, to boost the numbers. It’s a theme the western press have yet to pay any particular note to…

And I won’t even go into the incident where a Navalny supporter smashed my camera, something the Russian police dealt with professionally, and effectively. Not that you’d ever read about that in our media of course. A rule of western media is, of course, that anything the Russian police do has to be ‘police brutality’ (all part of the ‘repressive regime of Putin’ etc), including detaining Navalny supporters generally acting like hooligans, in often difficult circumstances. Not to mention that, knowing the cameras are on them, some of them really camp it up… 

But then, when it comes to Navalny and the western press, facts and their own pre-set version only come together in the most abstract of ways. Because, you see, there’s no question that in one sphere, the popularity of Navalny is indeed rising. As a video blogger. Navalny’s video blogs, professionally-produced, on a range of themes relevant to Russians, do attract millions of views.

But, views on YouTube do not equate to political popularity, and many watch Navalny’s videos to argue, disagree, or just to see what he’s saying (and there’s no question he does, at times, call out corruption, and hit on issues which resonate with Russians).

Navalny himself seems increasingly at home in his role as provocateur, and YouTuber, and increasingly distant from any real political involvement, from which his convictions currently preclude him – again, the fact that a convicted criminal can’t stand for election as the president of Russia has caused no end of (the by now predictable) agitation and dramatic declarations of injustice, etc, from the western end.

Be it tarnished reputation, or ineligibility, Navalny seems increasingly distant from any meaningful involvement in Russian politics, as a politician. Which made last week’s urging by the British media, that western governments simply must support Navalny, all the more peculiar.

Support him in what? YouTubing? Organising unsanctioned demos which attract increasingly meagre numbers of supporters? Getting detained, again, briefly, only for the western media to shout about how he was ‘arrested (!!!)’, as he manages to tweet from wherever he is detained (police van, wherever)

Or, the most obvious, being an aesthetically appealing opponent of Putin, always ready with a vitriolic criticism of Putin to hand, who can be positioned by the west as somehow Putin’s ‘successor-in-waiting’, etc. Rather than the reality of Navalny, which is a still-young, 41, but already damaged goods, spent, political yesterday’s man, turned to YouTubing.

An indeed useful, ‘handsome’ etc, of course, tool, for the west to use in their attempts to stoke problems in Russia…

World Cup 2018! It’s On! Information War is On! And my massive World Cup 2018 plan (with your support)

No sooner had the World Cup draw been dusted off yesterday from Moscow, than the British press started laying into the destinations England will play –

Not that they’d waited for that of course, just a few days before, blaring all over western media, here represented by the Guardian: 

Gay fans warned holding hands at Russia World Cup will be dangerous

And of course, the information war against Russia’s World Cup began long before that even, of which I’ve written here. 

So the information war is truly on. My plan – to visit each of the 11 host cities in Russia, and make a film from there, in English, and Russian. Not a promo-film. Real, factual reportage, showing you the reality of each city. As you know, all my work is completely crowdfunded, so if you support it, it’ll happen!

And this, my 3rd World Cup by the way, so there’s something to compare!

Euromaidan, and We’ve Known Each Other for 4 Years Now!

This week, it’s nothing to celebrate of course, but some of us have now known each other for 4 years. 4 years ago I was living in Odessa, Euromaidan had kicked off, and I was watching on, in horror not only at what I saw, but that all my former colleagues – I’d worked in Kiev as a journalist for 2 years – were supporting it, all the western media were cheering for me. The reasons I took against Maidan were fairly delineated, and definite. In the time I’d lived in Kiev, I’d followed the rise of neo-Nazi party Svoboda, had been to their congress, marches, had been shocked by what was pure, patent, unconcealed fascism (photo, right, I’ve also written about it here).

And here’s a thing, at the time the western media agreed with me about this, there were articles about Svoboda in this vein. And in my time in Kiev, I’d actually written for leading western publications – the New Statesman, more, had been senior journalist at the city’s What’s On magazine for a year.

When Euromaidan got going, some of the first footage I saw from it featured Svoboda members, Oleg Tyagnibok, and other radicals, not only in the crowd, but up on the hastily-erected stages. It’s not a big stretch to think that ‘if guys from a party based on the original Nazi party are supporting this, then maybe this isn’t the right side.’ Or more aptly, the correct side, because Maidan was the right, the far-right, the misled, the deceived, the chronic Ukrainian dreamers who really did believe that if you force out an elected president and government, by violence, then it’s happily ever after…

I started tweeting the Maidan I saw, in the context I knew, early doors. And I’d add that the context was that I knew Ukraine, having been to every part, including Donbass (here, Donetsk 2012). And with an overt anti-Russian mood to Maidan from early on, it was clear that Donbass, Crimea of course, weren’t going to be a part of it.

The fact that my tweets didn’t take the narrative of the west meant my phone was silent, there was no inbox with offers to report on the ‘glorious uprising‘, ‘peaceful people’s revolution‘ etc, that the west wanted to hear about . They went with journalists who would write that copy for them, and they were many. So they were in, I was out.

I thought ‘f*ck it’, effectively, and just kept on writing articles for my blog,  sometimes several a day (grahamwphillips.com – I took that site down ages ago, it was a personaly blog hardly appropriate for covering war on, you can find it archived). The blog posts started attracting a readership, and one day I got a Facebook message from a producer, Maria, at RT, asking me to go on air for an interview. I’d never in my life have thought of working for Russian media before, nothing against them, but I’d always as a British person generally gravitated to the BBC, et al. But, you know what, if they’ll let you say what you see, what you know to be true, then go for it. So, I went for it, this video from early December 2013.

Which means some of us have known each other for 4 years already.