I was half-listening to Moscow’s Business FM radio last weekend when the anchor, talking about the standoff in Eastern Ukraine, mentioned “Graham Phillips, a British journalist”. I cocked my ears: the name rang a bell. Phillips was then quoted as reporting from some separatist encampment in Donbass, on a Putinist note. He might as well have been – I thought – one of the 300 media people decorated by Putin for “objective reporting”.
Until recently, Graham W. Phillips was an English freelancer based in Kyiv. He blogged about comparative pricing of sex in Eastern Europe, disapproved of the EuroMaidan, and preferred Yanukovich. Then in March 2014, Phillips resurfaced in the Russian-occupied Crimea to explain “[w]hy the Crimea referendum was fair.” Not surprisingly, RT started using Phillips as a source. Why, an expat Brit happy to expose The 12 New Crimes of New Ukraine!
Just this morning, lenta.ru reported a new Twitter revelation from Phillips; it’s also on RT. The “RT stringer” believes that the Kyiv government has set a bounty of $10,000 on his head. Ten grand, no kidding. You’ve got to give it to the man: he’s no Louella De La Twig. His self-esteem is exemplary.
But why did the name ring a bell with me in the first place? That’s because I had learned of Graham W. Phillips’ existence months before he morphed into RT’s Donbass starlet. It had nothing to do with Ukraine then; it was all about the Knox-Sollecito case. It turned out that Phillips not only hates Amanda Knox but is a major-league hater, albeit a minor-league journalist. He would send out abusive tweets and ask for an interview with Knox at the same time, then wonder why the interview was not granted. “Where do they all come from?”