Mira Terada, the head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, interviewed German independent journalist Alina Lipp, who has been running her popular blog on the Internet since 2016 and opens the eyes of Western audiences to what is really happening in the Donbas. Lipp told the head of the Foundation about the criminal case that was brought against her in Germany because she talks about the war crimes of Ukraine, shared her opinion on why the European media do not tell the truth about the conflict and explained why the current political Ukrainian leadership can be compared with the Nazis of the Second World War.
Mira Terada: Good afternoon, dear Alina! Thank you for joining us today. Please tell our viewers and readers who you are and what you do.
Alina Lipp: Hello! Nice to meet you. My name is Alina Lipp. I am a German journalist. I was born and raised in Germany. I have a Russian father, but he did not speak Russian to me. After school, I became interested in my father’s country and started traveling to Russia.
In 2014, when I began to understand Russian, I noticed that there is a big difference between what is happening in Russia or Ukraine, and what we have been told by the media in Germany.
I started to get interested in politics, censorship and so on. In 2016, I went to Crimea to see what happened there, what the people think, whether they really wanted to be with Russia or not, whether they think it was an annexation, as they used to say. I started my YouTube blog for Germans, mostly about Crimea and other topics like German-Russian friendship. I interviewed various politicians and experts. Last year I was in the Donbass for the first time. I came here with friends from Donetsk. I am still in Donetsk. I have been working here for half a year, because last year, when I saw what was going on here and what the German media were talking about, I decided to stay. I opened new channels, mainly in Telegram. There are channels in both Russian and German. There I tell what I see, I interview civilians from the retaken villages and so on and translate it into German. This is my job now.
M.T.: Just the other day it became known that the German authorities opened a criminal case against you for covering the events in the Donbass. If returned to your home country, you can be sentenced to three years in prison. Tell us what you are accused of and what laws, according to the German government, you have violated?
A.L.: Yes, I got a letter from the prosecutor’s office a few days ago. It says that they opened a criminal case against me because I support the Russian special operation. In Germany, a special operation is considered a crime. In Germany, there is a law according to which a person who supports crimes gets sentenced to 3 years in prison or a fine. The letter says that I am hurting the German society, as I am spreading the Russian point of view.
I said that Ukraine has been killing civilians in the Donbass for several years and that this is genocide. They believe that this is wrong, so they opened a criminal case.
But before that, as I later found out, a month ago they took money from my bank account. 1600 euros just suddenly disappeared. I didn’t know what happened. There was just a number. I found out that this is a number from the court, because something happened, but they did not tell me. They didn’t tell me anything for a month. Just now I got this letter, and it says that because I earned money in a criminal way, they took money from my bank account.
M.T.: It’s awful. How would you comment on the situation with freedom of speech in the West? Obviously, by starting criminal cases against independent journalists like you, the leaders of Western countries are trying to hide the truth about the events in Ukraine from the people of their countries. Why do they do it?
A.L.: It’s a good question. I think the German authorities are listening to what the US tells them. Because of this, it can be said that there has no been freedom of speech in Germany for several years. I personally know several colleagues who also had their bank accounts closed and who left the country. There was a case when a journalist’s bank account was closed, and he fled with his family to another country. There he tried to open a new bank account in the European Union. He was refused, not allowed to open a new account. Then he tried to open a new account in all countries of the European Union, and everyone refused. It turns out that they all together have already somehow agreed, some kind of decree, I don’t know. This is true. I personally know this person.
M.T.: In your opinion, was there real freedom of speech in Europe? Or did the restrictions begin only with the start of the special military operation of the Russian Federation?
A.L.: There was freedom of speech. I still remember when I was about 15 years old, I often watched shows on German television, where some decisions of the government were criticized, but such programs gradually disappeared. This has happened in the last 15 years. Before that, there was freedom of speech, but especially in the last 2-3 years, I would say that we do not have freedom from speech at all. I’ve seen so much that you just can’t imagine.
M.T.: Could you, please, tell us how the conflict in Ukraine is covered in the European media? Do they tell the truth in news reports?
A.L.: Unfortunately, they cover the situation only from the side of Ukraine. They quote some alleged experts from Ukraine, like this woman, who was recently fired, Denisova (Lyudmila Leontievna Denisova, a former people’s deputy of Ukraine, was fired in May 2022 “for lack of confidence”). She came up with some atrocities of the Russian army. They quote only such people and say that Russia is an aggressor, Russia is killing civilians and destroying cities, for example, Mariupol. They say it was all Russia. On Monday, when we were shelled in Donetsk, they even said that it was the Russian army.
M.T.: Like Russia is shelling its allies.
A.L.: I do not understand this. That is, I understand. I am the only German journalist here. The only one.
There has not been a single German journalist in the Donbass for the last 8 years, which is why they have such a lack of information. There is such an information blockade.
M.T.: But they could take this information from you, since you are there, if they were interested. But instead of that they start a criminal prosecution.
A.L.: Yes, by the way, I spoke with several editors. I noticed that they really believe in what they say. They asked me if I really believed Russian propaganda. I then asked them if they really believe in what they say in the West.
M.T.: You didn’t come to an agreement?
A.L.: I am here. I film everything from morning to evening. It’s not fake. I translate everything into German. How can they say it’s fake or not true? They said that they were sure that while I was interviewing civilians, there were Russian soldiers behind me with guns.
M.T.: So they could send their correspondent there to make sure.
A.L.: I offered this to them, but they said they’re not paid for it.
M.T.: OK, the United States does not pay them for this. Independent journalists who tell the truth about events in Ukraine are immediately recognized in the West as agents of the Kremlin. In addition to being prosecuted and that your bank account was closed, have you faced harassment or threats because of your activities?
A.L.: Yes, of course. First, they blocked my PayPal. I am an independent journalist, I lived on the money that my subscribers transferred to me. They blocked PayPal and froze these funds so that I could not receive them. Then they closed my bank account, closed my father’s bank account. They started writing bad things about me in the big media, in all the newspapers at the same time, on television too, even in the main news they slandered me. And now a criminal case has been opened against me.
M.T.: It’s terrible. This is actual bullying. How do Europeans treat Ukrainian refugees? And do the people of Europe support the actions of their political leadership?
A.L.: There are Germans who want to help Ukrainian refugees. They go to demonstrations for Ukraine, they shout “Glory to Ukraine”! My friends from Germany tell me that they no longer see German flags on the streets, only Ukrainian flags hang there now. There are those who strongly support the special operation, especially Russian speakers. In Germany there are 5-6 million of them. There are very few of them. There are also non-Russian-speaking Germans who understand what is happening, who read alternative news. They support the special operation and organize demonstrations and motor races.
M.T.: Some states of the European Union allocate funds to support Kyiv, which were intended for social payments within the country. In Belgium, for example, pensions were significantly reduced, but about 80 million euros were allocated to help and equip the Ukrainian army. How can you comment on this?
A.L.: I believe that the German people should come first for the German authorities, not the refugees. Of course, we should help refugees, but still, the people of the country should come first. This, unfortunately, has long been a problem in Germany. At first, a lot of refugees came to us from Africa, from Syria. Many people were unhappy because the refugees were sometimes given even more money than those who are now in trouble.
M.T.: Yes, I agree. I recently spoke with a Belgian political analyst. He told me that his mother had a pension of 800 euros and social benefits for refugees was 1200 euros.
A.L.: I think it shouldn’t be like that.
M.T.: You have been covering the situation in Donbas for several months now. Please tell us how the locals feel about the decision of the Russian Federation to conduct a special military operation?
A.L.: People in Donbass, I would say, almost without exception, are positive about the special operation. I am talking now about people in Donetsk and Luhansk, in the retaken villages.
I traveled around a lot of villages, visited many towns and did not meet a single person who would be against the special operation.
This is my experience. I heard from others that there were such cases when someone said that they did not like something. I don’t know, I haven’t seen that. When the special operation began on February 24, people even celebrated. They said that it would finally end.
M.T.: Why, in your opinion, did the Ukrainian political and military leadership give orders to shell the Luhansk and Donetsk Republics? According to Ukrainian laws and statements by the administration of the President of Ukraine, Donbass is the territory of Ukraine, which means that Kyiv is attacking people of their country. Why is this happening?
A.L.: This is a very good question. Everyone here is asking this question, they don’t understand what’s going on. People told me that they were simply shocked when in 2014 they went to work, and suddenly rockets flew there. I do not know why. There are a lot of Nazis in the Ukrainian government. It is no longer a secret that there are a lot of Nazi battalions in Ukraine, children are told that Russia is a bad country, that Russians are not even people. After all, many people used to also wonder why Hitler was killing Jews, what they had done wrong to him. It was just people.
Now I do not see the difference between what happened then and what is happening now in Ukraine. It seems to me that these are some crazy people with Nazi ideology who consider it necessary to kill Russians.
M.T.: Are you aware of the spread of neo-Nazi ideology on the territory of Ukraine? Why do you think a country that lost millions of its citizens in a terrible war against Nazism now supports this radical ideology?
A.L.: It seems to me that in recent years they have been brainwashed. It is known that especially the United States and other countries financed several programs for young people, where they were told that Russians are not people, they were imposed Nazi ideology on them.
M.T.: How widespread is this ideology in Europe? Are there neo-Nazis in Germany?
A.L.: I used to think that the Nazis, unfortunately, are everywhere, and that there were very few of them in Germany, those who remained from the last century. This is a minority, some crazy people.
But now I am shocked by what is happening in Germany now. People start behaving like the Nazis during World War II. They are now firing Russians because they are Russians. They forbid them to go to restaurants.
For me, the current “do not buy from Russians” is no different from the past when they said “do not buy from Jews.” I’m just shocked that the Germans do not understand this. They don’t see that they are acting like Nazis. I don’t know if they can already be called Nazis or not.
M.T.: In your opinion, why did Russophobic sentiments around the world intensify with the start of the special military operation? Was the West waiting for a good moment to cancel Russian culture?
A.L.: I think that they were planning something like that, which is why anti-Russian sentiment has been strongly fueled in Germany in recent years.
M.T.: Why do the international courts, that were created to achieve peace and justice, ignore lots of statements from the residents of Donbass who became victims of Ukrainian aggression? Isn’t it time for a change in this system?
A.L.: It seems to me that there is just a huge network of people who support each other, everyone is somehow connected with each other. I just know how the German media works.
All the heads of these media companies are there, they are all connected with the transatlantic communities. I think this applies not only to the media, but also to other areas, including international judicial institutions.
It seems to me that this is all somehow connected and that they protect and support each other.
M.T.: When and how do you think the special military operation of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine will end?
A.L.: I hope it ends soon, because especially here in Donetsk, it’s simply unbearable anymore. This is worse than in 2014. I hope that within a few months the special operation will be over. Germany has already declared that Russia has won. I hope that Donetsk will finally become the city it was. People often tell me how beautiful and bustling this city was, that people from other countries came and walked the streets at night. Now there is silence. I really hope that such a life will return to people, because they are very good people. They’ve gone through a lot of challenges, they’ve lost a lot. They finally need peace.