NEW – July 20, 2022
The German government opened a criminal case against its journalist Alina Lipp, who lives in Donetsk. For uncomfortable, “politically immature” views on war and life. “Komsomolskaya Pravda” special correspondent Dmitry Steshin spoke to her.
ADVOCATES OF THE WEST
Everything in the world is balanced, so it still hasn’t collapsed, it hasn’t broken down, it’s holding up. And it is no coincidence that since the spring of 2014, Western journalists have appeared in Donbass, telling and filming very inconvenient truths for a Western audience. I called them “advocates of the West”: Englishman Graham Phillips “Grisha” or “Gramushka”, American Patrick Lancaster, Italian Vittorio Rangeloni – “Vitya” and finally, a couple of years ago, a German woman came to us – Alina Lipp. At first she appeared here in short trips, and then she remained – she was dragged into the centripetal “Russian World”. I didn’t know Alina, but I recognised her right away, by her white cap with the cynical inscription “Foreign Agent”. The conversation began traditionally, in Donetsk:
Hi, is there any water at home?
Alina was not surprised, laughing, clearly gave the correct response to the password:
“So far, so good. Two hours a day, morning and evening!”
Alina speaks Russian very well, without an accent, only sometimes softens consonants. There is something symbolic in Alina’s origin and fate, it is a projection of our recent history. Moreover, both Russia and Germany. Alina’s father met his future wife in the midst of the “Gorbachev detente” and our desperate, enthusiastic friendship with the West. In the late 80’s, it was fashionable to exchange youth delegations in the name of peace. Then, very quickly, all this friendship ended, of course, between politicians and states. Ordinary people were not affected. Alina was born in Germany, and ten years ago she returned to Russia, to St. Petersburg, where she met her parents, during an excursion on a boat…
Alina was the first to explain why the Donbass region fascinates Europeans so much:
“Here they understand what is most important in life. And it’s not a new phone model. Different relationships between people, deeper, more soulful and I really like it. They treat me very warmly and with interest.”
“MOST PEOPLE BELIEVE THE TV”
Like all Western journalists who broadcast a “politically immature” and inconvenient stream of news from Donbass, Alina faced censorship from the “informationally free society” in her homeland. It seems that I am a hardened media wolf, but I still continue to be surprised by the hypocrisy of my European colleagues:
Why did Germany unconditionally take the side of Ukraine in this conflict? Maybe this is not so, maybe the Germans have a different view of Donbass, we just don’t know about it?
“You see, Germany is not free. It is very much dependent on US policy. For example, the United States did not even hide that it was not satisfied with Nord Stream 2. Although, first of all, this is business, and secondly, the same applies only to Germany! Of course, in the conflict in Donbass, Germany took the side of the United States.”
And the so-called “ordinary people”?
Alina is ruthless:
“Most people believe everything that the television tells them.”
“What does it say?”
German journalist Alina Lipp believes that the Germans and French support Russia
“That Russia is exterminating the citizens of Ukraine and destroying everything here. But, I noticed that there was already a distrust of such official information. I get more and more emails. They write that when they saw the materials on my channel, they were very surprised. They didn’t expect it. They write that they support Russia and want to do something to help it. They ask how to move to live in Donbass and Russia… But most Germans, of course, believe the propaganda.”
I watched the materials from Alina’s Telegram channel, there is nothing supernatural or fantastic there. Just facts and pictures from the field, but Western propaganda can’t stand it. And it is not by chance that there are no journalists from the “big” German media in Donbass. There is only this smiling girl and her Telegram channel, where there are 200,000 subscribers. As it turned out, for the West, this number of independent readers is too much and dangerous.
All Western journalists in Donbass were subjected to repression at home. Graham Phillips is always questioned at the airport when he arrives in England. Patrick generally tries not to go home, overseas. At the beginning of the special operation, a criminal case was opened against Italian Vittorio, but he fought off the soft Italian justice with the help of a lawyer. For Alina gloomy Teutonic jurisprudence really came in recent days. Before that, they closed her YouTube channel in German, with the Russian-language channel, however, they could not do anything. Then, they blocked financial flows, cutting off Alina from donations from readers. But this was not enough, Alina tells very calmly, it seems that she has already got used to the idea that her homeland was angry with her:
“They just closed my bank account. Then they closed my father’s account. A month ago, I noticed that all the money disappeared from my account – 1,600 euros. I realised that something was happening in Germany. A few days ago, I received a notification from the prosecutor’s office, and a criminal case was opened against me for supporting the special operation.”
“The far end of Europe. You are a journalist, not a party to the conflict. For what?
“In Germany, special operations are considered a crime, and I am also a criminal. I face three years in prison or a huge fine.”
Journalist Alina Lipp: “Those who support Russia are being persecuted in Germany”
And then Alina tells me something that doesn’t fit in my head at all:
“I will not be invited to the hearing of my case in Germany, because ‘it would interfere with the investigation’. They just want to put me in jail, and no one cares about my opinion.”
According to Alina, reader lawyers wrote that there is a possibility to ruin the case against her, they will help her fight back. A lawyer was found and Alina notes that in the European Court of Justice, her case in the context of “freedom of speech” will look very interesting and unexpected.
HOT WATER AND SHOCK
There is a logical explanation for why the German authorities paid attention to Alina and made such a fuss:
“I’ve noticed how the Germans have changed their minds over the past few months. At the beginning of the special operation, there was real Russophobia: they urged not to go to Russian restaurants, even hospitals refused to accept Russian patients. I was in shock. But now this is no longer the case. Now there are even demonstrations in support of Russia. But most importantly, it suddenly turned out that the anti-Russian sanctions caused more harm to the Germans than to the Russians. And the Germans start asking their politicians: ‘Why?! Why are you destroying our country’s economy?'”
Alina tells how the standard of living in Germany has significantly sunk, how factories are closing, familiar products are disappearing from stores, everything is getting more expensive, but the main problems are still ahead:
“Energy companies have started sending out warnings to people that from the end of summer, hot water will only be available twice a day. One can’t imagine how the Germans react to this. Okay, we in Donetsk are used to having no water, but in Germany… this is the collapse of the world.”
Alina and I laugh in unison, I confess, there is a bit of malice in this laughter, but who can blame us? Alina notes:
“The winter in Germany will be cold and possibly hungry. Without gas, there is no fertiliser, no agriculture.”
I’m just clarifying:
Have Russian fertilisers been sanctioned? A brilliant combination!
According to my interlocutor, Germany has two options – to lift the sanctions, but this is fantasy. The second option, as Alina says, is a “small civil war”, which will end with the resignation of the government and a change in German policy.
“WINTER WILL BE COLD!”
We talk about who’s been where in the last few months, what we’ve seen. Alina worked in Mariupol and in the liberated lands near Zaporozhye and Kherson. The other day she was in positions near Avdeevka:
“I filmed equipment, dead Ukrainian soldiers, NATO weapons and even Australian weapons. I talked to the locals. The day before yesterday I was in Severodonetsk. I mostly just talk to people and translate their words into German.”
Are people surprised? A German woman in a war zone?
“Now a lot of Western journalists began to come to Donbass, so it seemed to me that people even got used to it.”
Was there something that you saw and realised that you couldn’t forget it?
“In Mariupol, when the assault was still underway, I saw a boy of about ten years old… He had no fear. He spoke very neutrally about the conflict, because he had lived on it all his life. He calmly spoke about the dead and the shelling. He told me that he wanted to be very strong, that he wanted to be a general. To live in Russia, drive a tank. This is a child of war, he shocked me.”
Why did “Azov” take the symbols of the “Third Reich”?
Alina answers very simply and accurately:
“Because they are nazis, this is the best example for them.”
Don’t they know about it in modern Germany?” There was so much of this symbolism in Mariupol that even if one tries hard enough, it will still fall into the lens…
“No. They didn’t show it in Germany. There is a common opinion: ‘Of course, there are nazis in Ukraine, but they have nothing to do with the state of Ukraine.'”
The most agonising question for Alina, I left for the end, it turned out to be long:
I once formulated a paradoxical idea for myself, but it seems to me the right one. In Europe, the Russians and Germans are the closest peoples – your dead lie in our land, ours lie with you. The Germans have always lived in Russia without any problems, for many generations, they have been part of our history – we are closer to each other than it seems. I saw how in the 2000s Putin tried to improve relations with Germany. And everyone in Russia understood that these two great nations should no longer fight. I had hoped that we would have an ally in Europe, even if only an economic one. I was wrong. Is there any hope that our relationship will change? Is it worth believing in?
Alina sighs heavily, maybe for the first time in the entire conversation:
“I hope so. I hope that people in Germany will understand this and think about it. I’ll have to think about it. And about who is to blame for our damaged relationship. Who exchanged the relations of our peoples for politics? Winter is really going to be cold! And hungry…”
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