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UK Journalist Banned From Twitter Angers Some in Kosovo

Graham Phillips, a self-styled 'indie journo' known for his strongly pro-Russian reports on Ukraine, has angered some people in Kosovo by calling its leaders 'terrorists'.
Kosovo flag in the government building. Photo: EPA/ Petrit Prena

A British journalist known for staunchly pro-Russian reporting in Ukraine – who was banned from Twitter last year – has angered many people in Kosovo after turning his attention to the country’s leaders and slating them as “war criminals and terrorists”.

In videos published on his YouTube channel, Graham Phillips refers to the armed force that sought Kosovo’s independence, the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA, as a “terrorist organization”.

He has defended his media work, telling BIRN that Kosovo is a terrorist state.

“Kosovo is a state controlled by terrorists and war criminals … of course people should be aware of that…what do you think [Prime Minister Ramush] Haradinaj and [president Hashim] Thaci are?” he said.

Phillips calls himself on his YouTube channel a “British indie journo”. He claims he is “completely independent” and works on projects that he “chooses” and “have wider resonance, relevance”.

He also said he was surprised and shocked to receive so many threats related to his work.

“I expected, of course, some comeback from it, reaction. But the manner of the death threats, and the quantity is probably a bit of a surprise,” Phillips said, claiming to have received hundreds of death threats from Kosovo citizens accusing him of spreading “Russian propaganda”.

“Firstly, I’m not at all surprised, or bothered, that they are calling my reporting ‘Russian propaganda’, because that is what Western propaganda calls anything that doesn’t match their narrative,” he told BIRN.

“Russia has a position towards Kosovo, so does the West, and coverage from their respective media reflects that,” he added.

Although he was not present in Kosovo during the war or afterwards, Philips insists that most of what has been said about Kosovo “is sadly based on lies, misinformation and propaganda”.

Initially, he says he did not realise this. “When the situation started with Kosovo, I was a student and only had the same BBC coverage as everyone else, with Tony Blair, NATO rhetoric … but I came to Kosovo to know the truth,” he recalled.

He said he had finished 18 reports on Kosovo so far and will do two more “for now”. “Then my ‘Kosovo Project’ will be complete,” he added.

Asked if he was still in Kosovo, Phillips did not want to tell BIRN about his location. Some of his videos show streets in Kosovo.

He has previously become known, or notorious, for his strongly pro-Russian reporting from Ukraine.

The Ukrainian news agency, UNIAN has accused him of supporting “terrorist activity” in Russian-held eastern Ukraine, and the country’s embassy in London has called him a propagandist for Moscow.

“We condemn the brutal, immoral attack of the Russian propagandist Graham Phillips,” the Ukraine embassy in London had said, UNIAN reported.

“We hope the UK police will investigate this attack as well as his terrorist activity in Eastern Ukraine, based on materials we sent to the Foreign Office,” it reportedly added.

He was banned from Twitter in November last year.

He defends his reporting from Ukraine, saying he was doing things that other Western reporters had not dared to do.

“I covered the war situation in Donbass, have covered it, for five years now. In that time I’ve always shown things as they are, from the ground, and reported facts as they are… I reported hundreds of times there on homes hit by Ukrainian shelling, civilians killed, no other Western journalist was doing that,” he said.

The Pristina Basic Prosecution confirmed told BIRN that it does not plan to take any action related to his reports.

Die Morina