What You Need To Know:
✓ Bellingcat has made the Russian authorities uncomfortable with the evidence they have presented
✓ There are now fewer social networking profiles of Russian soldiers and smart phones have been banned in the Russian army
“There’s been quite a few attacks on Bellingcat,” Iggy Ostanin, an investigative journalist with Bellingcat, an open-source investigative journalism organization which focuses on ongoing conflicts. “A lot of these things really hinged on taking these things out of context, particularly air level analysis,” said Ostatin. According to him, critics select information is taken out their reports, without properly reading them, and their evidence is not given a chance.
Ostatin told Hromadske that Bellingcat is a group of volunteers, despite claims that it has an undeclared sponsor and that it is aimed at creating negative press about Russia. Ostanin told Hromadske he joined Bellingcat after the MH17 tragedy as he was living in the Netherlands and wanted to do something about it.
Since joining Bellingcat, Ostanin notes that he has noticed a drop in number of social networks of Russian soldiers. The Russians are being more cautious and smartphones are also now banned. According to him, this is a reaction by the Russians to Bellingcat’s initial findings. “We presented a lot of evidence which is very uncomfortable for them,” Ostanin told Hromadske.
Bellingcat use all methodology that is available to gather evidence, according to Ostanin. “We don’t take a video or an image by a person and take their word for it. We look at the profile that posted it. Do they have a history of posts? Are they a local? Who are their friends? What can you see in the image or video? Can you see landscape, street signs?,” Ostanin told Hromadske. Then, according to him, they use google street view and satellite images to try and locate the exact coordinates of the image or video.
Hromadske International's Nataliya Gumenyuk and Ian Bateson spoke with Iggy Ostanin on June 7, 2015.