By Lauren Comele Morris
July 2, 2023
Maidan Square in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 1, 2023 Photo by Lauren Comele Morris
Graphic Novel Display of the Revolution of Dignity 2013-2014
During the months of April and May in 2023, I undertook a solo investigative journalism trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, while Ukraine actively fends off an illegal Russian military assault. I met with citizens, humanitarian groups and war crimes documenters; visited opulent religious houses, Maidan Square, and the invaded and destroyed towns of Irpin, Bucha, and Hostomel. I sat down with the NGOs Save Ukraine, Prisoner's Voice, and The Center for Civil Liberties, and spoke with protesters in Krakow, Poland. I came home with a message, their message, and I was forever changed.
The origins of investigative journalism lie in a fervent interest in the narrative, coupled with photography, writing, and tenacity in piecing together intricate puzzles until their completion. As children, we frequently start with a love for mystery and murder, a sense of justice and morality. We are inquisitive and have questions. Perhaps an affinity for history or geopolitics, humanitarian or ecological catastrophes, animal or civil liberties, etc.
Combat journalism is in a league all its own. Empathic adrenaline junkies who are confidently brave and courageous. Professional correspondents who risk their lives to get photos from war-torn countries, and gather evidence of genocide and the human spirit of survival.
Independent Journalism Combined with OSINT is an Undeniable and Powerful Force
Thanks to open source intelligence, it is incredibly risky for autocrats, tyrants and the main stream media to successfully deceive the populace with false propaganda and biased opinion reporting. Many will not see it coming before it is too late, and I opine this was the case with Vladimir Putin.
The average Ukrainian with a cell phone and groups of people gathering field intelligence has resulted in evidence relevant for a war crimes tribunal. Putin’s aggression has spanned decades and many countries. The Ukrainian people have a remarkable and unmistakable power to impede Putin and stop him forever.
“This is the moment for the world to step up and preserve democratic values and decide what kind of world we want to live in” ~ Save Ukraine
Those who cower in the corner at Putin's nuclear threats and call for appeasement, giving Putin the green light to absorb another neighbor into Russian control, would do well to remember these words. Ignorance of Putin's track record of committing murder, cultural genocide, and war crimes is typical among his appeasers. Putin and his totalitarian associates are notorious for being criminals, gangsters, thieves, and thugs. They silence journalists, citizens and political opponents who criticize them by poisoning, abducting, murdering, or throwing them into jail.
Ukrainians Risk their Lives Daily ~ It is a Courage Many US Citizens have Lost
Instead, many Americans slander the Ukrainians for fighting for their lives and claim Ukrainians should just surrender to Putin, the dictator. These are Americans who cannot conceive what it is to live under Russian control. They don’t care to know. They demonize President Zelensky under false, ridiculous claims. To quote a young man I met in Poland, “we don’t care about other peoples' words”.
Visiting Ukraine, I wanted to see, hear, and feel for myself what it was like to be with a people who were suffering from genocide inflicted upon them by their vicious neighbor, Vladimir Putin. I had a degree of confidence that with the right plan, I would make the quest and come back with a story.
What I neither expected, nor deserved was how vicious some people were going to be with me for wanting to go. The type of person who thrives on watching others fail. What I also did not know was the small opportunities I would have to provide a moment of comfort to the suffering. Ultimately, I did not expect to be profoundly changed, and I was. People were praying for me. I never feared for my safety for a second, my mind was uncommonly at ease, decisions were easy.
Ukrainians are a civilized, intelligent people. They have a fierce fighting spirit and understand their enemy, as do their allies who remember WWII. They understand that peace under Putin means severe oppression, fear and poverty.
My upcoming e-book details my steps in going to Ukraine, what I did, what I found, whom I met, what I discovered. I did not go intending to make a documentary. I was alone over there, with no one to watch my back or help me with the cameras. It was hard to get footage in a speeding car near areas you could not walk because of land mines. I did not take any unnecessary risks and travel east to the battlefields. I wanted to stick to my plan. I completed my mission and then some. It was a gift.
When I came home with video and photos, it was only then that I put the puzzle together into a short documentary. This blog article is not about the political history of Ukraine with Russia, or who is to blame, or American and allied support. It is not speculative. This blog article is simply to introduce and let the film speak for itself.
Please enjoy the film, and if you have something kind to say, please put your thoughts in the comment section. If you like my work, please consider a tax deductible donation to my 501c3 at https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/centristproject or a regular donation at https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/laurencomelemorris. All funds are directed towards my operational costs and are most helpful. Please see my other articles on Ukraine in this category.
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