TV Zvezda, the Russian Defense Ministry's TV station, has a lurid broadcast mixing the story of the shelling of School No. 63, in which two children were killed and four wounded, with some footage purporting to show National Guard or Donbass soldiers shooting up another school for target practice or just for fun.
Could this be true?
TV Zvezda has become more and more tabloid throughout the war on Ukraine. It seems a perfect fit that they've hired one of the most vile propagandists on YouTube, Graham W. Philips, who originally began with RT.com, didn't last there after some incidents, got himself arrested by the Ukrainians, then was freelancing before he began to work steadily with Zvezda and Ruptly, a Russian state video distributor.
Philips sunk to new lows by filming dead bodies in the Donetsk morgue and uploading the footage to YouTube, then sunk even lower by filming -- along with his new sidekick, an American, Patrick Lancaster -- the dead body of one of the child victims of the Donetsk School No. 63 shelling in lurid detail in the morgue. Perhaps he believes, like so many Russians, that shrapnel wounds can tell you which direction a rocket came from. They can't.
Perhaps he thought stacked piles of bodies would prove the Ukrainians were evil. They didn't, because we can't take his word or the likely bribed morgue worker that the bodies there are only of civilians, and only one is a separatist fighter; more of the young men could be of fighters. We also can't know they've all been killed by Ukrainian shelling; they could have as easily been killed by Russian-backed separatist shelling.
It's not investigation; it's war porn of the worst kind, trying to prey on people's emotions and morbid curiosity. You could at least have some respect for the parents...but no...
So now TV Zvezda laid it on even thicker, running a broadcast the day after the shelling of School No. 63 that first shows one of the boys injured by shrapnel, then has weeping relatives of the victims killed, crying in anguish on camera.
Russian TV, especially war correspondents and especially LifeNews and Channel 1, and also separatist videographers have absolutely no shame when it comes to filming people in tragedies. They also prod and provoke them to scream on camera and no doubt they achieve their affect with Russian audiences.
I remember in particular a bombing of the Putilovka marketplace last summer. A civilian who filmed the scene asked whether the separatists could have shelled it -- it's near the airport where battles go on constantly and it could have been caught in the crossfire. The damage was shown but it was seen (on that particular time) as not extensive, and the person making the video remained calm.
Contrast that with the LifeNews man who comes on the scene, going in close to make it appear as if there is extensive damage, then getting a few middle-aged women to shriek and shriek for the camera, denouncing the government in Kiev and screaming about fascists. This is standard fare.
In this Zvezda episode November 6, again, a day after the tragedy of School No. 63, Zvezda combines the narratives of the victims and their relatives with some footage that purports to be Ukrainian National Guard soldiers shooting wantonly at a school, repeatedly, until one of the rooms explodes, and laughing.
There's no context, no explanation, just a splice-up of the two schools, even though the school building being shot at -- if it is a school building -- is clearly not the same one. School No. 63 is set back from the street and has more of a salmon colored brick and is a different shape. This school is more of a pink color and is close to the road, with a fence, and is square in shape.
Since one soldier says "special school" at one point, it seems as if it is a school. "Special school" in this context doesn't mean disabled as it does in English, it means a technical school or a school with foreign languages for talented children.
An article accompanying the video quotes Gen. Kikhtenko, former commander of the Ukrainian Interior Forces, recently appointed by President Poroshenko to replace the Donetsk Region Governor Serhiy Taruta (who has now taken a seat in parliament) on the Shuster Live talk show, indignantly complaining that "Ukraine is forced to conduct special operations so that people from the sub-divisions which have gotten out of control can be put in their place and handcuffed." We'd have to see the show and context to see what he was saying, but obviously, although he served under Yanukovych, Poroshenko thinks enough of him to make him mayor of this sensitive region.
No doubt there are Ukrainian soldiers who have "gone out of control" -- and as we know, the leftist Western press, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have scrupulously followed them and exposed their every Nazi-like patch or kidnapping, although as I've explained in yet another forum, their crimes are dwarfed by those of the separatists.
What's amazing is that there are so few videos of the Ukrainian "Cyborgs" at the airport -- they are more careful about not revealing their army positions, for one -- and that the many people growing angry at the Zvezda propaganda -- which is of course now in English, too -- haven't noticed the literally hundreds of videos showing the separatists -- Givi and Motorola in particular -- shooting up the airport from apartment buildings in which people are still living.
There are several videos in particular where you can see Givi and company take their new recruits to the airport and just let them go wild, unloading tons of ammunition in all directions and heedless of the waste -- because there will always be more in the next Russian convoy.
Of course, you could say there's a battle at the airport and the separatists are shooting at military targets, and so it's okay -- except, why the gratuitous destruction?
And we've certainly got evidence that the separatists shoot randomly at civilian areas, just for kicks, like the infamous Shakhtyorsk Stadium video:
And here's the thing. We don't know if these fighters depicted in the school shoot-up video are pro-Kiev Ukrainians -- they speak Russian. Of course, the Donbass Battalion *is* the Russian-speaking pro-Ukrainian battalion, and this is the battalion designated by Zvezda -- so let's assume it's really Ukrainians.
We don't see any evidence that this school is still occupied -- indeed many schools in Donetsk are still closed due to shelling, and even School No. 63 was closed the day of the tragic killing of the children -- it's just that the kids had gone to play ball there.
Likely even these seemingly gun-happy soldiers wouldn't shoot into a school knowing people were in it -- at the start of the film it looks as if it were already shelled.
But we don't know -- and that's just it, we aren't told. Where is this school? Which number? Which street? What location? We know nothing.
Here's the YouTube version of the video which can be enlarged:
Oh, but there is one clue here, in this scene that flashes by: a sign that says "Krasny Luch" and "Donetsk" at 0:49.
That tells us that in fact these soldiers aren't in Donetsk. If they are standing next to a sign that says "Krasny Luch" and "Donetsk" below it with an arrow pointing away, that means they are somewhere outside of Donetsk, possibly near the airport in either Pesky or Avdeyevka, where there is a sign of this nature. If the sign said just "Krasny Luch," they'd be right next to the airport, as the road east from the airport is the road to Krasny Luch.
Since both towns are named, they must be further outside of town, it's not possible to tell where without a lot of research. I did a search on Google Maps for schools in Donetsk, Pesky and Avdeyevka, and I didn't see very many near the airport, or any that were on major roads, or that had a configuration of buildings that looked like the street in this video. But who knows? This video could have been taken anywhere to the north, northeast or northwest of the airport with a sign saying "To Krasny Luch and Donetsk."
Here's the operative thing about Avdeyevka and Pesky -- the separatists shoot at those locations. The school might well have been originally shelled by the separatists, for all we know.
Someone will figure this out eventually.
And then perhaps they can prove or disprove that the school was empty already or that these were really National Guards.
But meanwhile, the damage is done. Tons of people will think the National Guard are cruel, gun-crazy morons shooting at a school for the hell of it in Donetsk -- even that very same school that was in fact shelled (not shot at).
That they might not be in Donetsk and might be in an area already shelled by separatists isn't something that will ever cross anyone's mind given how the propaganda sandwhich has been set up here, with the children of No. 63 featured first.