News / Europe

    Ukrainians Fight Back in Information War

    FILE - Journalists listen to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich during a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Feb. 28, 2014.
    FILE - Journalists listen to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich during a news conference in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Feb. 28, 2014.
    Kremlin-controlled media have launched an information war to justify Russia’s seizing of Crimea. In response, Ukrainians are organizing to counter Moscow’s version of events.
     
    When Russian soldiers seized the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea last week, Moscow launched an aggressive propaganda campaign to justify its intervention. It claimed  troops were dispatched to defend ethnic Russians and it accused neo-Nazis and extremists for the earlier ousting of its ally, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whose downfall triggered Russia’s military intervention.
     
    Coping with the aftermath of a revolution, Ukraine’s interim government does not have the media resources to counter what it says is Moscow’s skewed version of events - most new ministers do not have press officers. But ordinary Ukrainians are trying to counter the narrative offered by Kremlin-controlled media outlets.
     
    Part of that resistance is taking place at Kyiv’s Ukraine Hotel, where a crisis press center has been set by a group of Ukrainian private-sector public relations experts, including Frolova Alina, the chief executive of a public relations agency.
     
    “When the invasion of Russian troops started we all just were shocked and we understood that our government is just quite young. They have a huge number of problems, huge, and they don’t have a time even to pay attention to informational protection of Ukraine.  And we started to call each other, saying that we need to do something to protect Ukraine and to give the more independent information, reliable information, our point of view,” said Frolova.
     
    Frolova said the center is not government funded.
     
    “This is absolutely voluntary all the people who are working here, and this is just professionals in PR, advertising, communications and international relations,” Frovola explained.
     
    The crisis center does not offer its own informational narrative, but instead serves as a platform for Ukrainian politicians, activists, business people and visiting international officials to hold news conferences. What they say is then reported in news releases and on the center’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
     
    This week, the U.S. State Department blasted Moscow’s propaganda effort, arguing that “the world has not seen such startling Russian fiction since Dostoyevsky wrote, ‘The formula ‘two times two equals five’ is not without its attractions.’”
     
    Sviatuslav Yurash, 18, agrees with the U.S. State Department’s claim. He is one of many Ukrainians seeking to use the Internet to launch  initiatives to confront Russia's state media.
     
    His web site, EuroMaidanPR, was set up in January to document the protests against Yanukovych. Now, he and his friends focus on Crimea and the standoff with Russia.
     
    “We are trying to provide more facts to highlight the truth behind what is actually happening in the East, and in the south and in Crimea,” said Yurash.
     
    Yurash’s website was quick to debunk Moscow’s assertions earlier this week that tens of thousands of ethnic Russians were fleeing Ukraine. He pointed out that an anchorwoman on the Russian television station Russia Today quit the station this week.
     
    “Russia has started a campaign of blatant lies. We had actually today the news of one of the anchors leaving their job because she couldn’t handle it any more because you can lie only so much,” said Yurash.
     
    With tensions mounting over Crimea, the propaganda battle is likely to intensify.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Tatiana from: Ukraine
    March 11, 2014 6:53 AM
    Keeping territorial integrity against the will of the people is a bad idea! The Crimean peninsula has been part of Russia since the 18th century and all throughout the first half of the 20th century when it was offered as a gift from Russia to Ukraine by former (Ukrainian-born) leader of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, and became part of the Soviet Republic of Ukraine. The change in ownership was more symbolic than materialistic due to the fact that Ukraine was a region in the Soviet Union under Russian leadership. No wonder if Crimeans want to join Russia!
    In Response

    by: odisei from: Russia
    March 16, 2014 3:50 PM
    Tatiana you are a [...] - Russia occupied Crimea in 19th century not in 18th (after a war with Ottoman Imp. in 186x). There had NOT been Russians before ever! There were Greeks, romans, vizantinians, venizians… but not Russians. In 1944…1945 Crimean Tatars (as well as Greeks, Armenians etc… ) were sent out and replaced by many Russians – that was a reality of the soviet national politic.

    by: Mike Powell
    March 08, 2014 8:57 AM
    I thought it's the George Soros that funded this "revolution"? How co-incidental, that this revolution gone into high gear just soon after Mr. Yanukovich rejected the E.U. deal.

    by: forwardus from: Chicago
    March 08, 2014 12:18 AM
    This is a joke that the Maidan wasn't prepared in this informational war. On the contrary, our US handlers provided all the technological resources via grants to nationalistic movement to set up websites, blogs, TV channels (I guess, after they won) - that's how Yanukovich lost the info war - many non-violent Ukrainians supported the Maidan and its violent roots.

    by: jonathan huang from: canada
    March 07, 2014 5:02 PM
    Crimea ppl have the right to decide their own fate! its "universal human right", Ukraine must respect Crimeas right!
    but UN can send personnel to monitor the referendum to make sure it is fair!
    In Response

    by: Pol from: Russia
    March 16, 2014 4:04 PM
    Russian propaganda is trying to convince everybody that there were a treat to Russian speaking in Crimea and Ukraine, but so far I did not see any Russian speaking asking for the refugee status in the west nor in the east, nobody has not seen ANY refugees in the west of Russia as its propaganda declared 10 days ago, but after even Russian newspapers had found no refugees Kremlin all of a sudden did withdraw this subject and never returned back to.
    In Response

    by: forwardus from: Chicago
    March 08, 2014 11:45 AM
    I have just talked to two of my very close friends who live in the Ukraines' East. Their views are 180 percent opposite. Both participate in meetings of their cause actively. But both say for sure that Ukrainians will never fight each other. Putin doesn't have legal rights to Crimea, but, since they don't recognize the Kiev government who seized power illegally, they don't have to observe the law in return. Should Putin be condemned? As the law says, yes, but ethnic Russians feel safer against the ultra-nationalists who bear arms by the way and maintain road blocks everywhere they can. In the end, our American scenario to overturn a legitimate government in Ukraine worked, but Putin had a response handy and his scenario to annex Crimea has been working so far.
    In Response

    by: forwardus from: Chicago
    March 08, 2014 12:13 AM
    @GoFigure from Canada: I lived half of my life in Eastern Ukraine, have you? I know how ultra-nationalist talk and what they want to do with Ukraine. The "Right Sector" is a serious military group (backed up and trained by US instructors) that can goo far - even intimidate everyone to vote for their leader Yarosh as President. Once they felt that they can no longer to abide by law, they now feel invincible and they WILL NEVER ABIDE BY LAW. Russia didn't do anything before the coup succeeded, and now Russian-speaking people in the East at least can have someone to protect them against the maidan's military groups. I don't praise Russia, but they did what they had moral rights to do: protect their kind, the way Reagan protected Americans in Grenada...
    In Response

    by: Adrian from: Russia
    March 08, 2014 12:11 AM
    You don't get it - it is so perverse that it is difficult to understand coming from such a free society as Canada. Imagine this, 1960s Quebec, English/French language, Quebec separatist minority, with only a few radicals such as FLQ. Bombs, kidnapping etc. All of a sudden, France invades Quebec "to protect their French speaking brothers who are at risk due to the English speaking fascists". Or if that's too hard to imagine, try: the Soviets invade Quebec to "protect their Marxist comrades who asked for their help against the fascist English speakers". The Soviets close down all radio, TV, except for the Marxist programs. All English speaking leaders are arrested because they are "fascists". They pay citizens to go out and "protest" with the FLQ or threaten their family or lose their job if they don't. Demonstrators against the invasion or separation are arrested. Since they control the media, they send photos/videos of many "protestors" waving Quebec flag and claim all of Quebec wants to separate and be part of France or the Soviet Union (whichever is easier for you to imagine) People in the Soviet Union/France says yes we support military intervention in Quebec because they are all asking for our help. UN observers are rejected at the border by the military guards. Associated press journalists have their equipement confiscated. Other journalists are beat up by the FLQ who are portrayed as the "People's Militia to Protect Quebec". A "referendum" is scheduled in 10 days to vote on joining France/Soviet Union. The votes are then counted by the invading soldiers.

    Then someone from a far distant country says "the Quebec people have the right to decide their own fate!" Which is true. Just not in this context.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with "universal human rights" of Quebec or Crimea. It has everything to do with why is France/Soviet Union invading Quebec or why is Putin invading Crimea. But you missed that because Putins propaganda works so well.
    In Response

    by: GoFigure from: Canada
    March 07, 2014 11:21 PM
    What you see on the news is complete BS the "protesters in Crimea" are Russians who have been bused in and the " Government " is Russian appointed. What you are seeing is what Russia wants not what any in Crimea want. The whole Russian speaking vs Ukrainian speaking is complete media BS. These so called divisions exist only in Russian propaganda, as they have for the last 20 years. The fact is Russia wants to use its neighbours as a sheild, nothing more. and when it cant control them politically then it does so with force as it has done in Georgia ( After assasinating its leader failed)

    by: Anonymous
    March 07, 2014 2:17 PM
    Sorry to break it to you Russia and Putin, but the only voice that really matters is the Ukrainians. Whatever Russia says or claims, does not matter one bit in the slightest.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 08, 2014 8:19 AM
    Sorry to break it to you but from the East Ukrainian friends I have, they are pro Russian...lol

    by: Sindhuratna from: India
    March 07, 2014 10:44 AM
    India is ill advised to keep purchasing Russian military equipment. The quality of Russian technology just pale in comparison with Israeli/American "on shelf" technological sophistication - not just in Space and Aviation - but but in mundane areas crucial to our security, even our survival as a unified nation. I have been involved for the past 20 years in military procurements from Russia. I have been stationed in the Crimea on many iterations. And I am here posting a comment under a false name but with the hope that someone in India might hear me. We must start aligning ourselves with the truly advanced nations on Earth, and stop this silly sentimental leanings towards a bankrupt and defunct "Soviet Union" - if we want to survive and thrive.
    In Response

    by: jonathan huang from: canada
    March 07, 2014 4:59 PM
    dont be stupid, if india can get any technologies from west, you think Inida wouldnt do it?
    btw, india military is a joke, how many subs you just have blown up recently?

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