Volunteers of the information war report every day and give to their readers news about Ukraine and about war against the invaders. Plus, Ukraine has a whole Minister whose aim is to counter Russian propaganda. A Ukrainian from Rostov-on-Don, who has managed to organize an information front against the invaders without any financial support from the State, answered our questions.
— At the beginning of the war in the Donbass, the Ukrainian blogosphere was filled with new names and the bloggers became soldiers of the information war. Tell us a little about yourself, where you are from and what you do in everyday life.
— I am from Rostov, the very Rostov that is on the Don. For Ukrainians, the city has become a meme remembering the events related to one imposing “young man” who fled there to escape the people’s wrath.
The signaller specific left its indelible mark on some expressions in the form of explicit inserts and slightly cynical descriptions of the events happening in our lives.
I arrived in Ukraine in January, 2014. It is important to say that all of my family lives in Ukraine and that I went there not as a “young romantic” but quite seriously. I had diplomas, certificates and 15 years of experience in the construction and maintenance of telecommunication networks and communication. However, fate wanted it otherwise and I am now an inveterate «agricultural-blogger», etching stories in the network between subsistence farming and vegetable garden.
— Were you driven there by the events of the Maidan or the fact that Russian where you lived, started a war against Ukraine?
— I would not say that especially Maidan and the related events completely changed my vision and drove me closer to the counter propaganda. All started much earlier, on May, 8th of 2012. Around 2003, I understood that «Sweet Russia» was falling into the abyss with the «young and energic leader» incarnated by Putin. That what the time when started the aggressive campaign promoting the bestiality of «United Russia», that was, to my mind, a regression and a return to Soviet mentality, driving me to develop critical opinions.
The subsequent years of «High-Spiritual» Sovietization only strengthened my opposition to the criminals in power. Thus, on May, 8th of 2012, Russian representatives provoked outrage in Lviv after they laid flowers at the Memorial of the Second World War. The diplomats grossly violated the etiquette before the eyes of the famous brutes of «Russia 24», that misinterpreted all the event. I then decided to actively act against Russian power in particular and to properly launched an account on Facebook.
— Because it is the only «undestroyable» account that survived after the brutal wars with the “Kremlinology”. The cynicism and intransigence with which I sometimes dubbed the horizons of the events» to the lovers of Russia, competed with audacity and tenacity with the notorious robot from Futurama. The way Bender actually rises melancholy and gloom in the defenders of the Russian world generated all kinds of lols.
— Who are your readers? Are there among them any supporters of the «Russian World»?
— My subscribers are pro-Ukrainians people from Ukraine (80%) between 27 and 45 years old (80%). Surprisingly, 15%,are Russians, in the same age categories and firmly opposing the current government of the Russian Federation. 5% are residents of the USA, Canada, Germany, Holland, France, emigrants or locals supporting Ukraine.
There are no supporter of the so-called «Russian World» (it the separate term means “abstract spiritual “philosophy” term, which describes destructive Russian mode of life. synonyms: Russian delirium, Forth Reich, Russkiy mir, Russian fake — all of them depends on context”) — I’m deleting them on the stage of entering my profile. This measure is necessary, a constructive dialogue with these people being unsuccessful because of their blind “zombie following” of Putin’s media. Any scandal is the occasion of letting the nerves and wildness expressing themselves, with brutal comments posted by double-headed chicken avatars.
— What does the Ukrainian information policy need according to you?
— It needs a strategy to conduct the war of counter-propaganda. Unfortunately, there are no radio or TV broadcast promoting the pro-Ukrainian vision and counterbalancing the aggressive broadcasts near the border and in the ATO zone. For example, half of the inhabitants of the region of Kherson, using spikes instead of antenna, can watch a large range of Kremlin’s controlled TV channels. The same goes on for the radio: shows from Dzhankoi delight Ukrainians living up to 100 km farther inland in Ukraine.
About the ATO zone, I do not generally express myself, but it is criminal negligence !!! Oh, excuse me, in ATO zone, transmitters can be eliminated along with transmission centers and the staff working there. Nothing personal — it’s whether you or them.
Even if we play the pacifists, in the worst case, it is possible to block (забивать) – Right! through the Electric Warfare’s (EW) broadcast of TV channels in ATO zone (although I am a supporter of missile strikes on the bearing of a radio transmitter).
— What media would you recommend to your readers and which ones are not worth it?
— I recommend to read a lot of media, comparing and confronting information.
Fortunately, in Ukraine there are many news agencies from which we can choose and make critical analysis.
About the unworthy media sources, I can only say that there is plenty of infernal sites, that publish dissimulated provocative content, hiding behind the well-known «com.ua» ending of its address. Be selective in your reading!
— Why does the Ukrainian public so easily panic and believe in the “fakes”?
— People are tired of living under permanent stress and to be afraid of large-scale disasters. Anyone, facing the permanent flow of stressful news, tries to report on it or alert friends of the “danger”, or, guided by a true anger cheer up and show everyone how well informed one is.
This creates a storm of information on the Internet, which is used by propagandists from the neighboring countries. That kind of sensible news need to be dealt with cautiousness and calm and their source checked in order to prevent panic. After all, don’t we all remember Wells’ War of the Worlds when a whole State «catching the suitcases, was going to run away from damned Martians».
— Are there Poroshenko’s bots, Kolomoisky’s bots, Julia Timoshenko’s bots?
— As such organizations of course not. Lots of friends, among which the so-called “opinions leaders” dividing people within the blogosphere into X-bots and non-bots, copied the models of the Kremlin idiots of Miss Potupchik, artificially tearing up the blogosphere.
All this confrontation is still going on and what will come out of it is uncertain. However, what is certain is that it will not be anything good.
— Have you faced the Russian aggressive with bots from Olgino (Russian special Department in the district with the sane in St. Petersburgh, where is the biggest concentration of trolls and bots for Kremlin money)? How to recognize them and how to behave with them?
— Of course I faced them ! The biggest mistake is to underestimate those who work behind the screen. Their stronger weapon is your anger, your emotions and your incontinence.
They provoke you. You write, you write hard, and at the same time, in your opus, come dozens of complaints and you are banned. Make yourself some rules that you will respect online. Facebook already put some of these rules in its community regulation. Be more flexible and thoughtful in your posts and comments. Indeed, the nicest opponent writing, even if it does not content any sexual allusion, is to put him into knock-out and then the opposite thing could happen «swored a lot – you failed»)
— What would you say about your «colleagues»?
— Hell, devil, and a data centre with a soft to publish at home. The latest evolutions on the network mess allows you to see who visits your account and to know the origin of billions of лулзов and of all kinds of ridiculous files. A perfect way for the open-source intelligence and for the suppression of anonymous identities online.
Although I admire them, I do not follow those who work in this niche on the grounds of counter-propaganda, that is a real feat. I dropped it or deleted profile when Yushchenko was President. By the way, the servers of “Odnoklassniki” (Russian social network for uneducated people after 35 years old) under the 2.0 SORM (System for Operative Investigative Activities) version of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia is in function, so be careful!
— What are the differences between the public of Facebook and Vkontakte?
— I quite often meet with «refugees from Vkontakte», that is to say, people migrating from Vkontakte to Facebook. Whether the transition from sites make them wild enough , whether the listed age composition and the average age of Vkontakte users, but witness the terrible grammar, when the word «again» may contain four mistakes.) And also terrible ways of behaving, but that happens at their age. I quitted BK a long time ago and try to avoid social networks under surveillance of the SORM of the Russian Ministry.
— Your forecast on the future of the Donbass and Crimea?
— It is hard to make a prognostic when the situation changes every week, but I hope that regarding Crimea, the Ukrainian Government will orientate all its strategy towards the reintegration of the peninsula and that, instead of the passive participation to the actions for this reintegration, the power will start to take active measures.
The issues of Donbass and Crimea must be addressed in all their complexity and with the same approach than in the Budapest format (yes, the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum should take care of this issue !).
Sooner or later, the occupied territories will be reintegrated into Ukraine. We shall then be firm and give the collaborators some days to gather their belongings and return to their beloved «sweet Russia»!