Monday, August 14, 2017

TRUTH from the OSCE - From a Monitor, not A. Hug


I have recently interviewed a former member of the OSCE SMMU (Ukraine) mission in Donbass and Ukraine. He served as an OSCE Monitor in the field in Odessa, LNR and various other locations on both sides of the contact line from March 2014, until his retirement from OSCE in 2017. He was a member of the US military for 30 years serving in Special Forces for 16 years, and also previously served in Ukraine, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Bosnia /Serbia areas on programs for Border Security and Cooperative Threat Reduction US State Department's Bureau of International Security and Non-proliferation from 1999 to 2014. Though he currently wishes to remain anonymous, I have personally confirmed his identity and CV. He is for real. In this interview, I will refer to him as "KOT".


RB - Please tell us about when you came to Ukraine / Donbass, your mission here, and how long you worked with the OSCE here.


KOT -  I must preface my remarks by noting that what I say is based on my personal observations and analyses, and does not speak for anyone else. I agreed to this interview in view of the vast amount of inaccuracy and distortion of what has actually happened and is going on in Ukraine. The responsibility of what has happened there, and also its solution ultimately lies squarely with the UA government, and no one else.


I have spent a total of over six years in Ukraine, the last time having been since March 2014, as one of the first members the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, Ukraine. I was initially assigned to the Odessa Team. I was present and a full witness (observer) to the 2 May 2014 Odessa massacre: both on Cathedral Sq. and later at the Trade Union Bldg.

After "Minsk-2" I was transferred to Lugansk, where I spent the next two years on the rebel side of the "contact line", until my recent retirement this year. 

RB - Please tell us about what you witnessed in Odessa on May 2nd, 2014.

KOT -  Based on my observations, this "event" was carefully planned and executed by the government, with a completely prepared cover story. The “Maidan” side was far to well prepared, equipped, rehearsed, and outfitted to come to any other conclusion. There were a number of reports submitted on what actually happened, but those that contradicted the official government line were effectively suppressed along with any manner of accurate analysis of its consequences (which certainly continues to this day). 

In Odessa, traditionally a Russian speaking area, and never historically a part of Ukraine (Khrushchev administratively assigned to the Ukrainian SSR in 1954, by “Executive Order”), the suppression of all opposition started in March 2014, and reached a critical point by 2 May 2014. 

The government brought in a large number of western UA nationalists – well armed, equipped, trained & rehearsed. Some of these were also planted in the “anti-Maidan” ranks. On 2 May, the anti-Maidan faction planned a rally. Some of them had sticks and shields, anticipating possible ”nationalist” attempts to break up their rally. About 100 of them assembled on Alexandrovsky Prospect (1100 hours) and marched to Cathedral Sq. where they encountered a well set-up blockade of nationalists on “Grecheskaya Str.”; the nationalists outnumbered the anti-Maidan (AM) group by at least 5 to 1 (this was observed, but denied by the UA government). About 100 riot police accompanied the AM and as the nationalists advanced, tried to block them from engaging. The nationalists had weapons, firearms, grenades, and a huge number of stones. The AM had little to nothing – this was a trap, and the AM’s found themselves encircled and barraged with grenades (concussion), and a rain of stones. The AM started to answer only by picking up what was thrown at them. In addition, they also desperately tried to rip apart parts of the sidewalk to get something to throw back.

The police tried to block the encirclement, in which they were also trapped, and a number of police were serious injured and debilitated. The police acted civilly, and with passive blocking tactics, not using force or weapons, but they were not able to stop the onslaught, and about six people were killed at that location. 

Nationalist re-enforcements were brought in on government vehicles, including fire trucks; most were in black uniforms. In the course of coming in, if they thought anyone “looked suspicious” they would dismount, chase and batter the individual, then continue to the conflict area.

However, most AM’s were able to get away – many went to the Trade Union Building (in back of the main train station). There was another AM rally under way there (this was their traditional meeting place and they had set up a small tent complex catering to AM demonstration – two days earlier, this was attacked and all tents were burned and destroyed by the nationalists).
The AM ralliers were warned of the impending nationalist attack there, and were “advised” to take refuge in the building. However, that too was a trap, and the upper two floors (of 5 floors) were blocked off by the nationalists. Once the attack started the lower floors were subjected to “Molotov cocktails”, two snipers sere observed (by other witnesses with military backgrounds) at the shrub line of the park picking off AM’s near windows of the building. Many AM’s trying to jump out of the burning building once the “cocktail” fires ignited the interior, were beaten to death by pipe-wielding nationalists. The official total of AM casualties was 46, but unofficially the rumors went as high as 300 (there were also rumors that there were bodies of AM protesters previously killed and piled in the building basement to be burned) Note: The latter rumor was neither observed or confirmed. The locals tried to call the fire dept., but the Fire Brigade did not show up for several hours despite being only 500m away.
At around 1900 hours, the nationalists set up a mass party near Cathedral Sq. with a rock band, massive truck-mounted audio equipment, UA flags, and held a drunken celebratory bash (observed).

 That night, the area was cordoned off and only official vehicles and crews were allowed in, removing bodies. The wounded AM’s were taken to hospitals, which were subsequently attacked by the nationalists throughout the night intending to “finish” the job. Relatives locked themselves in with the wounded to prevent nationalist access.



None of the local people questioned, said they recognized any of the nationalists as being from Odessa. By morning the bulk of the nationalists were gone. Only the Odessa based “Self-defense” groups remained.

The Trade Union building forensic investigation was conducted very superficially, with the building being “open to the public” the next day – with hundreds of visitors – totally destroying “crime scene” integrity.

As events unfolded, all of the UA TV stations carried a well-prepared scenarioized reporting – all stations, the same, the same story, clearly, fully worked out beforehand – the uniformity and nature of reporting consistent – and not in the least resembling what was going on or subsequently happened.


The Odessa journalists decided to conduct their own investigation – without making accusations, but making all possible facts available for the public record. They examined thousands of videos, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and participants (they counted on witness candor that would be missing in police or SBU interviews). Their findings were not allowed to be published. 

The official investigation placed the blame exclusively on the AM group. The government brought in investigators from Kiev – the chief investigator made the statement that this was going to be a short investigation: one side was completely “untouchable” he said. Charges were brought against only the AM (victim) side, as starting a disturbance with bodily injury consequences. Most have still not gone to trial and are still being held by the government. Those AM’s who did go to trial were often attacked upon entry to the courthouse, and also in the courtrooms themselves (as were witnesses perceived to be “for” the AM’s). The police did little to stop this activity. 

Throughout this, the police stated that they did not have the authority to act, or to interfere with “Self-defense” force functionaries. These groups were armed with firearms and conducted active para-military recruiting and training in the city and environs. (The police themselves were in a difficult situation, to be addressed later.)

After the main suppression of opposition at Cathedral Sq, and the Trade Union building, all subsequent opposition activity was pursed and eliminated: newspapers not touting the government line, TV and radio stations, groups, etc. were forcibly closed, and often burned out. At this time, no one with AM sentiments speaks out publicly and many people in Odessa claim to avoid anyone who speaks Ukrainian, fearing possible nationalist reprisals. There were a number of “Self-Defense” groups organized in the Odessa area, who monitored and controlled any “AM” or anti-government civil, non-violent activity.

Note: I was witness to all of this personally, including many of the subsequent interviews, etc.
There is much more detail and a lot there. The reason I describe this, is that the Donbass folks considered the Odessa events and their aftermath to be a telling indication of what might happen to them, and still do (I discussed this with some of the LNR officials). I had considerable contact with some of the LPR officials who were particularly interested in what had occurred (and was still happening) in Odessa - as an important indication of what they might expect on their territory, should UA forces be allowed into LNR.

RB -  Why didn't the OSCE make an honest report about the Odessa Massacre?

KOT -  As you might know, OSCE is by no means the "objective" observer it purports to be, but is highly biased in favor of the current UA regime. You have no doubt heard Mr Hug's many statements. They do not reflect the actual situation; Mr Hug reflects that bias, and no one else is allowed to make public statements, except for AMB Apakan, the Chief Monitor, as very fine man, but responsible for the higher level of SMMU activities.


A. Hug himself is the Only authorized person to issue public statements, the rest of the teams are strictly forbidden to do so. He (and his principal minion, the Head of Reporting) is the front of the org.. The "spin" they provide does not represent a balanced position and, I feel, does not represent true observations and reporting from the field in the correct perspective. 

Some people have accused OSCE SMMU of being “agents”; this is not the case – certainly not in any significant manner (I was one of them, in the field and in “acting” leadership, and you can take that for what it is worth). Perhaps there are some who are "agents", or, say, close to it, but I do not know of any. 

There are many good people in the OSCE, believe me, and many of those good people are also frustrated by how their reporting is spun, or sometimes ignored. I could tell you many stories of how we (Odessa and Lugansk Monitors) fought with OSCE HQ in Kiev, in getting the right info, the right balance, the right perspective - that "objectivity" they tout so often. We lost every time; some of our team leaders either quit, or were essentially forced out due to this. 

One time, about two years ago, I heard in the news that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov asked to see the "raw" data, (field reports) and then conduct his own analyses - this of course, was not allowed, but I was somewhat surprised that he never repeated the demand - it would present an entirely different picture of what is actually observed and reported from the field vs. what finally comes out of OSCE Kiev.

You made mention of OSCE not reporting on clear evidence of heavy weapons impact “cratering”. OSCE Monitors send their “crater analyses” in the daily patrol reports, including the assessment of the type of weapon used and where it was located  – patrols also report on all explosions , both heard and observed: their direction, distance and possible origin. That data is submitted to OSCE Kiev, but there, again, only selected parts are actually “published” -  i.e. made public; this is a highly selective process controlled by the likes of the head of reporting. Untoward items are not printed under the pretext that they are not sufficiently “triangulated”  i.e. Triple-checked – which they are, since that is one of the underlying principles in accurate reporting – we do not deal in speculation or conjecture, but corroborated facts and actual observations. Even though we “triangulate prior to all submittals, we have often been requested to do it again, and again. This is not easy.
Again, do not confuse some good accurate field reporting, with what is screened out and does not make it into Kiev issued reports – there is a difference, sometimes a big one. Several Team Leaders including myself (acting) often challenged “problematic” incomplete or inaccurate reporting, to no avail – we never received either retractions, or corrections. Many monitors left due to dissatisfaction with Kiev, and the futility of dealing with them. Some time back, Kiev has instituted a careful Team Leader “selection process”.

RB - Can you give a specific example?

KOT -  More than one. One example was a Kiev reported 49 “Grad” systems south of Debaltsevo – this was not in our reports – as “acting” team leader at the time, I checked all reports, and also immediately dispatched a patrol to corroborate – needless to say we could not find anything of the sort in that area. When challenged, Kiev said that it was “probably” based on satellite imagery; when I asked that this be provided, they refused. When I asked why we were not immediately tasked top confirm and “triangulate”, I was ignored – the report stood – also a statement to that effect made in a high profile TV statement by A. Hug.

Another earlier example, our detailed reporting of the 2 May 2014 events in Odessa (of which, I was in the middle), and the follow-on activities and events were highly redacted and often not published in Kiev reporting – there was a great deal in those reports, but this was never published by OSCE HQ in Kiev.
RB - What can you tell us about the situation in areas abandoned by UAF units during their retreats in 2014/2015, particularly about minefields left behind?
KOT - We reported as much as possible on the existence and locations of mine fields: both old and new. In the area of Biryukovo, Dolzhanskiy, Mariyevka, Zelenopolye, all the way to Donetsk Oblast (Chervoniy Zhovten [UA for Red October]) and Dyakovo – this is an area along the southern half of LNR.
The area is not only heavily mined (local farms in almost every village have trucks, tractors, combines, etc. that have hit mines left by retreating UA forces sitting in yards: some with accompanying casualties, some luckier. 
De-mining is a constant activity for the LNR forces. There were/are several UA “combat engineering” (sapper) units in the area (primarily in Rovenkiy). The std. TO&E for a post soviet unit (BN) is in the range of 2000 AT mines, about 4000 AP mines and 4-6000 smaller “booby-trap” mines. When these UA units withdrew, most of this was not taken – they withdrew in disorder and too quickly due to being seriously hammered by LNR forces. Many mines were emplaced in the area, primarily in civilian farm regions, and not military objectives. The mines were emplaced at random, indiscriminately with no records, or markings, etc. Even civilian objects, such as barns were said to have been “booby-trapped”.
There was a UA “combat engineering” unit based in Zelenopolye, where LNR sappers still find and destroy ordinance and mines. The LNR sapper units down there take casualties because of out-dated (WW II) de-mining equipment – modern mines are tough to pick up with those older technologies, and the sappers down there had appealed to us for better equipment to clear (their projection) the roughly 40K mines. OSCE could not help – in fairness this fell outside of the legitimate Mandate (note: there were suggestions and proposals to get some degree of reconstruction [and clearing] assistance: schools, hospitals, and the like, but it never materialized). Honestly, I do not know if these proposals were ever presented for discussion at the OSCE HQ Council in Vienna.

Along with de-mining, the local farmers and sappers would occasionally stumble across mass graves of UA soldiers.


RB - Mass graves?
KOT - In the Zelenopolye area, for example, the locals said they saw several UA trucks fully laden with bodies heading into the fields when they were withdrawing. They were able to find some of the bodies, but not all. Mass graves were also found near Dolzhanskiy, and also near Krasnodarskiy and Izvarino border crossings. 
All bodies in those graves had been stripped by the UA to be “sterile”, i.e., no papers, dog-tags, or any other manner of identification. The bodies were simply dumped into a pit and buried – often this would not be well done and some of the graves were found by dogs rummaging about for food.
We tried to set up (in cooperation with LNR) a system of returning the bodies but found both resistance and denial of any such bodies from LNR territory by the Kiev authorities. Returning them for the most part was not successful; the UA side would find many excuses to make the process difficult or not to accept the bodies.
In all, part of the problem lay in the fact that the UA forces lost far more people than they ever admitted to, and were faced with the problem of embarrassing admissions. But more likely, also the necessity to take responsibility for the casualties, and pay for them: family care and reparations, etc. They did not seem to want to spend the money on their fallen boys.


RB - So the UA was not interested in recovering the bodies of their fallen soldiers. What was their attitude towards live UA POW's captured by LNR forces?
KOT - In 2014/5 in Sverdlovsk, I often spoke with an Ataman Gaidei (Aleksander Nikolayevich). He was holding 500 UA POW’s and said that it took forever to reach UA authorities to get a return exchange going – the UA side was simply not interested. The exchange eventually happened after over six months of negotiations (OSCE was not involved in this particular process), The UA side returned twenty LNR Cossack troops in exchange (there really were not that many taken captive), but six of them came in boxes of about one cubic foot – i.e. tortured and mutilated beyond measure. Gaidei said that he returned all of his POW’s with “all of their fingers”, but had he seen what happened to some of his people, he might have considered changing his approach to POW’s.
Just a brief Post-script on the Gaidei (Sverdlovsk AOR) POW exchange. The UA side did such a poor and obviously disinterested job in moving toward an exchange, a number of UA servicemen said, “the hell with them”, and stayed with Gaidei and LNR as fighters.



RB - So UA authorities were not interested in their POW's or their fallen soldiers. What about UA soldiers wounded in the "ATO"?
KOT -  When I was still in Odessa, prior to my transfer to Lugansk, I stopped by the Odessa Military Hosp. to check on the wounded who were being returned from the “east” to various hospitals around the country for long-term treatment. The Odessa Hospital was a good one, and there were many soldiers there. I interviewed a tank crew – all wounded to varying degrees – nice young men, what you would expect of a decent soldier. They told me the story of how they were treated (with a lack of concern from UA), but more importantly, they recounted how over the three months of treatment in Odessa, their military files kept changing, diluting their service from combat, to rear duty, to some manner of reserve. The boys were very sad, in relating how their government wanted them to “disappear” and were manipulating their files/records so they would not have to take care of them. One of the soldiers needed a prosthetic lower leg – and that would take another six months to a year to heal – the soldiers were doubtful that this would be taken care of properly.
I was transferred to Lugansk shortly after that, and could not follow up to see what eventually happened to the tank crew.

END OF PART 1


Monday, July 24, 2017

#LOL @ #BBC, Sam Bright and Alex King


I woke up this morning to Sam Bright's BBC hit piece on Donbass journalists who use crowdfunding to support their work. It was not unexpected, but it was worse than I expected. "Worse" in the  sense that it was even more pathetic, biased and misleading than I expected. But there are some important lessons about propaganda, freedom of speech and of the press, and how "presstitutes" like Bright, King, and the BBC have become the absolute antithesis of what they pretend to be.

Sam Bright is a freelance writer affiliated with the BBC, which is a state-run propaganda outlet controlled by the British government. Bright is also the journalistic buttboy of a pro-nazi propagandist named Alex King, who produces provably false misinformation on a Youtube channel and Twitter. Bright and the BBC have both sold any pretensions they ever had about having anything related to journalistic integrity by publishing this bogus piece whose only purpose it try to cut funding to real independent journalism in Donbass, which counters the outright lies of propagandists and bullshit artists like King, Bright and the BBC.

King, who also funds his "work" through donations, was recently perturbed by a successful crowdfunder I am doing to publish a book about my first 6 months in Donbass, as a soldier in the Novorussian Armed Forces. So he complained to Indie Go Go, the platform I am using to fund my book. They laughed him off, so he got his mindless minion followers on Twitter to start complaining to Indie Go Go that I'm a "terrorist", "child-killer", "Russian mercenary" and "in Ukraine illegally".
All bullshit, of course, and Indie Go Go wasn't buying. They laughed , the campaign continues.
Enter buttboy Bright and the BBC.

They have now published an article that has exactly nothing to do with English news, and is filled with lies from the title to pretty much every other sentence in the article. And the most important thing to consider is the motivation and timing of this tripe that they try to pass as "news".

This article by Bright and the BBC, at the behest of King, is an actual attack on freedom of speech and of the press, and an attack on the truth, by presstitutes who pretend to be journalists, but who are, in fact, propagandists and liars who are trying to suppress the truth.  Because what they sell is lies...

Alex King, of London, got his start on Twitter with the "Free Savchenko" campaign. Nadiya Savchenko is a convicted murderer of two Russian journalists in Donbass, a rabid psychopath, neo-nazi, and more of a man that King and Bright are, combined. And King was demanding "Justice" for his heroine. But justice was not to be. Less than 2 years after her conviction, she was released by Russia in a prisoner exchange for Donbass P.O.W's. Two years for two murders? Ask yourself if that's justice...

King now begs his 3,000+ followers for money "to buy satellite images that "prove" the Russian Army invaded Ukraine".  Never mind the facts, that the EUUkrainian government officials and even the ICJ in the Hague  have stated openly and conclusively that NO "Russian invasion" has occurred. King still gets money from his idiot "followers" to finance his obviously false propaganda. But I think he doesn't get much. He thanked one of his credulous and imbecilic donors for sending 10 English pounds by saying "With 100, I could do more".  LOL. My book fundraiser has averaged about $1,000 a week for the past 6 weeks, King is begging for the equivalent of $130. Begging.
And conniving to shut down my widespread and successful support. With help now, of the BBC.

The crowdfunder to publish my book is in no way illegal. What King and his flunkies and followers say - that I'm a "terrorist", "mercenary", "criminal", "child-killer", "paid by Moscow", these are all lies. And yet what they, and now to its eternal shame, the BBC, have done is try to shut down funding, not just for me, but for all the independent journalists who do not sell the same BS they do about the neo-nazis in Kiev and the war in Donbass.

This is a literal attack on free speech, freedom of the press, and the truth, by lying scum who call themselves "journalists", but are in reality the embodiment of the word "presstitutes". They sell lies for money, and try to cut off grassroots funding to people who are risking their lives on the ground, to report the truth. If people didn't support us and our work, they would not send us money to continue. But they do, of their own volition. And these nazis want to shut them down. Shut YOU down.

The goddamned BBC requires Brits to pay a TV license fee every year. It is mandatory. What I and other journalists here are doing is getting support from people who know we are telling the truth. Ours is optional, yet many people do it, for thousands of dollars. Because they respect and appreciate our risk and our work. And the Truth. What the BBC, King and Bright are doing is to try to stifle the truth, and suppress freedom of speech and of the press, to prevent people who support us from being able to do so.  This is The Big Lie, writ large. "Minitrue". And they (King, Bright, BBC) are doing it, not me.

The goddamned BBC gets $4.8 Billion USD per year, to publish their tripe and lies. I am trying to raise $9,000 USD to publish a book of my firsthand experiences that counter their lies. And the BBC is now working with, and for, professional liars and pro-nazi propagandists like Alex King to shut me down. There's a lesson here, for those who want to learn it.

If you support freedom of speech, freedom of the press, if you support The Truth, you can contribute to my crowdfunder to publish my book. There are 9 days left, and I'm at $5,528. 61% of my goal. The best way to stick it to professional liars like King, Bright, and the BBC is to support those who expose their lies and their campaigns to suppress Truth and freedom of thought, speech and press.

Cowards hate the brave, fools hate the wise, and liars hate the Truth. THAT is the deal here.
It's us or them, and it's up to you to figure out which is which. And which side you're on.

Graham Phillips and Donbass Rose are journalists I trust, support and respect here in Donbass. I am ready to work with them at anytime to counteract the pro-nazi propaganda of scum like King, Bright and the BBC.  King, Bright and the BBC are threatening the RIGHT of people to support our work.

Don't let this attack go unanswered. Do your part. Support the Truth and freedom of speech against those who are its enemies. Pitch in if you can.

Make a statement for Truth and freedom of thought, speech and press. Let's turn these clown's attempt to suppress freedom of the press into a lesson for them. Let's thank these professional liars for publicizing my crowdfunder. This is Journalistic Judo, let's turn their power against them.
Pitch in if you can. For the Truth. It's a rare commodity these days...






Sunday, July 9, 2017

HUMAN AID - HOW TO DO IT RIGHT!


I did my first human aid project back in the Summer of 2015, after I met Anna Tuv and her 2 surviving kids, when I was still in the Army with XAH Battalion. Anna's home in Gorlovka had been bombed by ukrop army heavy artillery. Anna's husband and young daughter were killed in the attack, her home was destroyed, and she lost her left arm. She needed help, and I had to do something.

Thanks to the generosity of friends around the world,  we raised $10,000 for Anna and the kids, in about a month. Every penny raised went to her, 100%, and we kept the records to prove it. I have done many human aid projects since then, with Суть времени, Spendenaktion fur Novorussia, Pedro's Progress, Donbass Human Aid and others. Meticulous records were kept for every single project, and every single penny has been accounted for and went where it was supposed to go. 100%. We have done a lot of good work, but some hard lessons have also been learned. Not everyone who wears a white hat is a "Good Guy".

Remember "Angel Battalion"? Run by Russian conman and poseur Alexy Smirnov, they scammed many thousands of dollars from good-hearted people around the world.  Their scam was exposed and disbanded, and Smirnov arrested by DPR authorities in 2016. As far as I know, he's still in jail, where he belongs. He did not just steal from donors, he stole from the victims of the war, people who really needed help. A true criminal, the worst kind, a fraud.  But he was not the worst of the self-styled "Humanitarian" fraudsters.

 Remember Sir Bono from U2, and his "ONE" Foundation, that raised $15 million, and gave less than $200,000 of it to the poor people the money was intended for?  That's a 98.7% scam. More than $8 million of the $15 million was spent on salaries for these "charity" workers, in "ONE" year alone.  The other $7 million (less the $200,000 that actually went to charity) went to "expenses" like offices, plane tickets, limos, hotels, etc. All first class, of course, because $7 million in a single year.
Now, THAT is a scam!

Then there's the Clinton Foundation, "The largest charity fraud in American history", according to one Harvard analyst. According to their IRS forms, the "charity" took in around $300 million a year, and gave to the poor between $4 and $6 million a year. Around 2%, going where it was supposed to.
And where did the other 95% go?  You know where. So, you get the idea...

Scams like these are more common that you think. Some people see a tragedy and don't think how they can help the victims, they think how they can help themselves by using the suffering of others to enrich themselves. Especially in war zones, which attract a large amount of parasites and vultures.
"Ambulance Chasers"...

So, it is not enough for good and generous people to donate to some heart-rending appeal to ease human suffering. Due diligence is required, because to donate to a scam is to encourage scamming and to reward the lowest of the low, those who prey on the suffering. It is not enough to send money and trust it will go where it should, as the examples above prove so clearly. You MUST demand accountability from whoever solicits funds for human aid work. And it's really very simple -
If they ask you for money, you ask them for receipts. Verifiable receipts.  That's job one. 

You're not just protecting yourself, you're protecting the people who the money is supposed to be going to, and the legitimate humanitarian organizations whose names get smeared by association every time a scam gets exposed. There are good guys out there, real humanitarians. Your job is to make sure those are the ones you support.

Here are a few very basic guidelines -

#1 - Receipts.  If they don't show receipts for every project, it's a scam. Period. There is NO excuse for not providing real receipts for every project. One thing about Russians, they love documents. If they do anything significant - construction, medicine, machines, ANY significant money deal, they always produce copious documents. Always.  If there are no documents, in Russia, and in human aid, it didn't happen. And by "documents", I mean receipts.

#2 - Track Record. Have they done this work in the past, and did the people they were supposed to help actually get helped? How do you know? Did they show receipts? Do the people they have worked with in the past still work with them? If not, why? And speaking of "why", why does someone do a human aid project anyway? If they start a new project every time their bank account starts getting low, that's a sure sign they're not out to help other people, they're out to help themselves, to your money, the money you donated to people who really need it.

#3 - Associates. We are who we hang out with, who we work with. Who do they work with? What other humanitarian organizations work with them? Are those orgs trustworthy and reputable?  There are no "Lone Rangers" in human aid work. No collaborators means no oversight, no oversight means big temptation to "take a little off the top." Or a lot. If they work alone, they decide the cut they take, and you have to take their word that the contributions went where they said they did. Because nobody else really knows, do they? So neither do you.

#4 - Lifestyle - When "Angel Battalion" was driving around Donbass in designer clothes and nice new cars, making music videos about how cool and generous they were with other people's money, donors should have been asking themselves where the money for that was coming from. If "humanitarians" can afford to live the highlife, you should ask yourself why they aren't donating to their projects themselves. It is a statistical fact that rich people donate less to charity than the poor.
So consider high living and human aid to be mutually exclusive. They are. Just look at Bono...

#5 - Organization - Watch for the ponzi scheme. REAL human aid projects are well organized, transparent, and updated as progress is made, with verifiable evidence, not only that the work is being done, but that the money for a specific project is being spent on that project. When new projects are started before old ones are completed, that's an obvious red flag. When someone says "Don't ask, just give", it's time to start asking. Human aid work is tough, time-consuming and complex, even when doing a single project at a time. The more projects going at once, the more chance of funds getting mixed up or "lost" in the shuffle. A well organized, well documented project is an honest project. 

ANYBODY you give money to for a project should be able to tell you within $100 how much they have and how much they spent ANYTIME you ask. And be able to prove it within 24 hours. It's YOUR money, not theirs, and it's yours till they show you the receipt and PROOF it got spent on what you sent it for. If they won't give you a number and proof when you ask, they're scamming. Obviously.

I will continue to work with the  Суть времени human aid unit,  Donbass Human Aid, Spendenaktion fur Novorussia and Pedro's  Progress on selected projects. I have other work these days that will take up much of my time, but I will fulfill all commitments I have to ongoing projects. All these are honest and reputable people who give more than they get, and I stand behind them and with them 100%. And they do the same with me. Just ask them.

So, thanks to all humanitarians, keep you good hearts and faith in Humanity, but do your homework and know where your money is going. Trust is a sign of courage, so be brave, but be wise. A soft heart is not an excuse for a simple mind, so do your due diligence, and let's be careful out there. There's a line from an old song about what really counts - "It's not what you got, it's what you give, not the life you choose, but the life you live."  Don't support scammers when there are real people who are doing good work, and real people who really need help. And together, let's make a better world for everybody.