Ukrainian TV Channel ICTV recently “revealed” these facts about Phillips:
- He is a bad person
- He is gay
- He is an operative of the Kremlin
- He is “very, very important” to “the Russian cause”
- He has been transferred $250,000 by the Russia propaganda machine
Now we know.
A couple of days ago, Ukrainian news channel ICTV did a 48-minute-show entitled “Anti-Zombie,” looking at the Russian news coverage of events in Donbass.
It was a comic-book “documentary,” including the usual standards – silly music, cartoon cutaways, “expert interviews,” cutting off clips part way through to suit, etc. It was all there! Of the 48-minute running time, I found myself taking 14 minutes, between 11 and 25:
All of the above, taken out of context, of course, was intoned by that ever-present, knowing, droll narrator. Being taken out of context wasn’t enough; animation effects, silly music, cutaways to films, shows, etc. were all thrown in there, along with the sum of 15,000,000 roubles (no source, of course) supposedly awarded to myself and other “Russian propagandists.”
As I watched, I found it all quite funny, to be honest, especially the part where one of the “expert commentators” emphasized that I was “very, very important” to the Russian cause – thoughts you can imagine the makers shared in awarding me almost a third of the overall running time.
There were any number of statements they just made up to suit, including that I “lie for money;” I’m supposedly “gay,” based a 16-year-old photo from student theater; that I’m a “bad person” was the clear thrust from I’m a “well-paid operative of the Kremlin” and “richly-imbursed Russian ‘propagandist.’”
This really was news to me. I started doing “on location” work with RT in April 2014 in Donetsk on a one-week contract and was paid a standard daily rate for a stringer/contributor. The contract was extended, week on week, until my first captivity deportation from Ukraine, at the end of May.
I then recorded a few pieces for RT while at the World Cup in Brazil and returned to report in Donbass, this time on a daily rate as a stringer/contributor. On my second day in Donetsk, I told RT I wanted to go and report from the battle going on at Donetsk airport. They told me not to. I went anyway, got captured, deported again, and banned for 3 years.
RT then told me, nicely, that they really liked me and appreciated my work, but that I’d been rather disobedient and was too risky to work with at that time. I accepted this, returned to work in Donbass anyway and filmed for video agencies for around a month. Then the Russian news channel, “Zvezda,” contacted me and asked me to record pieces for them.
No contract here; I pitched in a piece, and if they took it, I got paid the standard rate for it. They took around 8 of my pieces in September and October; there were also a few they didn’t take. Then things went quiet for a month, with no “Zvezda” work until the end of November. At this point, I got wounded covering frontline conflict. When I got out of the hospital, newsworthy events had picked up, and in the following 3 months, I recorded around 15 more pieces for them.
I returned to the UK a month ago and made the decision last week that, upon my return to reporting in Donbass, I’d like to find a new channel. I very much enjoyed working with “Zvezda,” but I always like a new challenge.
In my time working for Russian media, I’ve never been contacted by any Russian officials about my work, and I’ve never been told what to say or report by my channels or by anyone. I’ve always just done my own thing and filmed and reported what’s there. I’ve never received any more than the standard going rate for my pieces.
On the show, they introduced the section on myself with “Graham Phillips’ adventures in Ukraine.” But what a real adventure – to turn me, from a British freelancer, into a - perhaps even the - key cog of Russia’s “propaganda machine.”
I’ve never encountered any “propaganda machine” on the Russian side – and given that I’m so important to whatever that is, if such a thing existed, I’m sure they would have contacted me by now.
What exists to an infinite level, though, is the pro-Ukrainian ability to invent things to suit them, and then things to suit that!
I continue as a British freelance journalist. Ukrainian news continues as Ukrainian propaganda.