Driven by revolution, social media and Internet continue to play significant role in Ukraine

Ukrainian revolution would have not resulted if social media and the Internet had not been available to the citizens. The first call to come to the Independence square to protest has been posted in Facebook by a journalist Mustafa Nayem on Nov 21, 2014. But even more, the development of digital culture will be crucial for the success of Ukraine in the nearest years.

How do social media and the Internet influence the social order? Here is a digest of recent developments:

The New York Times refers to Facebook as a source by quoting Ukrainian officials:
“Berkut is gone,” the acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, announced in a posting on Facebook. Many Ukrainian progressive politicians see social media as a direct tool to spread a word of their appeals and calls.

UT-1, an official first TV channel in Ukraine agreed to provide Hromadske.tv, which is online TV channel, couple of hours of broadcasting per day. The context: UT-1 has bebe the most manipulative TV channel during Yanukovych regime and it was fully controlled by the previous government.

A new news site HUBs http://hubs.com.ua has been launched on Feb 21. The project is run by ex-journalists of Forbes Ukraine, who retired from the magazine in Nov 2013 as a protest against censorship by a new owner. The project has been working for two months, initially the articles have been published in Facebook until the site was built.

The issue of lustration for politicians and ex-state officials is widely discussed in the Internet. Hundreds of Facebook posts have been published during last days. There are couple of sites targeting the issue:
– #НеБутиСкотом http://skoty.info/ – a comprehensive crowdsourcing approach to collect information about politicians, police, judges and thugs (titushki) on one resource.
– We remember http://lustrationukraine.org/ – a site I have launched two days ago to collect video with the speeches of the most outrages politicians.
– Activists have published a questionary on state officials in Kyiv, asking users to report in those who should be under lustration.

We remember their activities – a site about lustration in Ukraine

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Today I have launched a site which collects evidences for the lustration in Ukraine –lustrationukraine.org. The site primarily features speeches of Party of Regions politicians, those who defended riot police, rejected European integration or violated the laws by voting for other deputies in the Parliament. Such Party of Regions members as Olena Bondarenko, Oleg Tsarov, Sergey Efremov, Myhail Dobkin, Gennadiy Kernes, Mihail Chechetov have to be banned from taking any government posts in the future due to their unethical behavior, lie and corruption.

Everyone can join the resource by sending me the links on video to info@lustrationukraine.org

Protesters toppling Lenin monuments across Ukraine

32 monuments to Lenin were toppled in the last 24 hours, Ukrainska Pravda reports. Protesters gathered on the central squares of cities and towns and initiated toppling Lenin statues.

One of the biggest Lenin monument was built in Dnipropetrovsk, Eastern Ukraine. It took protesters more than three hours to topple it.

Dnipropetrovsk:

Chernihiv:

Manevychi, Volyn:

Social media to retaliate titushka Sasha Starchenko

Titushka Sasha Starchenko is a 30-year old pro-government supporter who came to Kyiv from Kharkiv, the second biggest city in Ukraine. On February 18, during severe clashes between protesters and riot police, he was on the side of police. Starchenko switched on his camera and started shooting video when riot police was attacking protesters from Self Defense units. He shot five videos and posted them to YouTube. Those videos were one the bloodiest ones from this day in Ukrainian Internet.

The videos showed riot police and thugs, including the author himself, were beating to death protesters. Starchenko himself was shouting “Beat them, beat!”, picked up stones to throw them into protesters and bet them with bat. Video also showed thugs shooting wounded protesters with a gun. The video has been viewed 226,000 times on YouTube in two days.

Since Sasha Starchenko have registered accounts in social media under his real name, users have easily identified him in VKontakte, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube. The information about Starchenko has been widely disseminated in social media and users rushed to comment against him. On Feb 20 Starchenko deleted all his accounts in social media. Nevertheless, the video and his public photos have continued to circulate in the Internet. On Feb 22 someone registered a fake Sasha Starchenko account and posted all five original video changing the original titles.

Starchenko VK 2014-02-20 at 12

Sasha Starchenko profile in VKontakte.com – a Russian social media network. Commentators supported him in his fighting against protesters in Kyiv

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Starchenko’s public photo from his VKontakte profile – He stands with a bottle of beer in his hand in front of a military monument

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Starchenko’s public photo from his VKontakte profile – photo dated by 2010

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Since Feb 20 Starchenko’s profile in Vkontakte is not available. It has been deleted by user

When I published a post about Starchenko in my Facebook profile on Feb 22, it brought additional attention to the character – 2550 users reposted my post and left 90 comments. Many comments called to bring Starchenko to justice. The information about thugs fighting against protesters is being collected on a special site http://skoty.info/. The site has been launched by Democratic Alliance political party.

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Yanukovych and his allies organized a provocation trap for protesters – Orobets

Lesya Orobets,  Ukrainian MP, described Yanukovych’s dirty game towards protesters on Feb 18, 2014. Bellow the full text:

All the so-called peaceful negotiations were a well-planned trap. They were aimed to delay time and to prepare power operations against protesters. Yanukovych did not plan to make any concessions from the beginning. All those ‘dances’ around the political process, backroom negotiations on amendments to the Constitution – were intended only to lure protesters in trap.

Today’s day was a well-planned and directed by at least a week ago. Right now Kyiv subway doesn’t work, and all entrances to Kyiv are locked. In Kyiv, at least in some places (for example, hostel KPI) the internet is off. A state of emergency will be imposed in Kyiv in a few hours and do not tell me that all this was done without any preparation, plan and investigation. Continue reading

Ukraine in blood: police killing dozens of protesters

Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014 was the darkest day in the history of Ukrainian independence – at least 18 protestors killed, more than 1000 wounded during the clashes in Kyiv.

Clashes started in the morning, when pro-government parties refused to adopt a a legislation to limit the President’s power. Protestors moved in the direction of Parliament. Since then police started shooting at protestors. Photos of police with AK47 Kalashnikov fire arms were taken by journalists on Instytutska St. The hardest fight took place on Instytutska – two people, including a 60-year old woman, where shot. Their bodies were located in front of Khreshtatyk metro stations.

Father and son today in Mariyinskyi Park in the morning after clashes with police and thugs, called titushki. Both are lecturers in the largest technical university of Ukraine. Their last name stands for Kuznetsov.

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The government announced anti-terrorist operation in Kyiv against 30 000 protestors. Police attacked Maidan Nezalezhnosti.  Metro was closed since the afternoon. Thousands of people could not reach their destinations. Also thousands of Kyiv residents assisted wounded in hospitals. A protestor died on the hands of my online friend in Kyiv hospital #17 – he was shot in head and stomach – link to my friend reporting on it.

The President of Ukraine refused to stop violence – he demanded every protestor to leave Maidan Nezalezhnosti. Police continued to attack protestors. As my friend Yevgen Truhin wrote: “Riot policeman is paid 600 USD per month. For 600 $ he destroys and kill people to protect the regime, crazy. Is it worth?”

flame Dec 18

Media attention in social media worldwide switched from Olympic games to events in Ukraine:

ukrainesochi

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Twitter of Podrobnosti.ua has been hacked

The official Twitter account of Podrobnosti.ua, one of the leading online news site in Ukraine, has been hacked at midnight, Feb 17, 2014, by anonymous users.

Two tweets, that indicate the hacking of the account, were published on 12.36 am and 2.12 am respectively.

The first one said: “We are the most lying news”. The second one was an appeal to pro-government oligarch Dmytro Firtash, an owner of U.A. Inter Media Group Limited, a media holding that operates dozens media resources, including Podrobnosti.ua site. The tweet said “D.V. Firtash, unfortunately, you run out of funds to continue publishing lie on this resource.”

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First tweet: “We are the most lying news”

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Second tweet with an appeal to Firtash

Many Twitter users have retweeted those messages, wondering what were the reasons of publishing tweets. Some asked if the account was hacked.

Compared to other leading news resources, the edition of Podrobnosti.ua do not pay much attention to Twitter as a tool to inform audience. Twitter of Podrobnosti.ua had just 2402 followers on the time of hacking. It followed none users. Meanwhile, Twitter of Ukrainska Pravda had 97,000 followers, Liga.net – 61,200, RadioSvoboda – 54,500.

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Интернет и эмоциональная журналистика времен Евромайдана

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Киев, 15 декабря 2013. Автор фото неизвестен

15 декабря 2013 года 200-тысячный Майдан Независимости засветился десятками тысяч мобильных телефонов и фонариков. Люди держали телефоны и фонарики высоко на головами, исполняя хором гимн Украины. В тот же день участники пели хором на пару со Святославом Вакарчуком, лидером “Океана Эльзы”, чей концерт был посвящен демонстрантам, избитых спецотрядами милиции 30 ноября. Светящийся Майдан на несколько минут преобразился в манифест нового общества – людей, подключенных к Интернету и мало зависимых от пропаганды подконтрольных правительству телеканалов.

За три года правления Януковича власть прозевала технологический сдвиг в обществе – Интернет стал ключевым источником информации для представителей образованного класса, включая журналистов, гражданских активистов, бизнесменов, служащих, студентов. Именно они были среди первых 1500 киевлян, которые вышли протестовать против правительства на Майдан Независимости поздно вечером 21 ноября.

Уже несколько лет Интернет, ставший главным общественным форумом страны, является одним из главных фактором давления на политический режим в Украине. Заметную роль в этом процессе играют и журналисты. В условиях правительственного контроля над многими СМИ, сбалансированное информирование о действиях власти от Интернет-СМИ – само по себе является ударом по легитимности правительства и Президента.

Однако роль украинских журналистов не ограничивается только информированием о событиях в стране, как это следовало бы ожидать в любой демократической стране. Имея довольно высокий запас доверия в обществе и понимая потенциал соцмедиа и Интернета, часть журналистов видят себе также и в роли гражданских активистов. В условиях зачистки свободной украинской журналистики времен Януковича, этот активизм выглядит вынужденным шагом со стороны медийщиков. Более того, часть сообщества украинских журналистов видит себя не только последним бастионом свободы слова в стране, но и свободы общества в целом. Перефразируя слова Евгения Евтушенка о том, что “поэт в России — больше, чем поэт”, в Украине журналист – чуть больше, чем журналист.

События Евромайдана, ставшего крупнейшим протестом в истории независимой Украины, возможно бы не состоялись без участия журналистов. Ведь именно со стороны журналистов в соцсетях прозвучала идея собраться поздно вечером 21 ноября на Майдане Независимости с целью высказать протест против отказа Украины от евроинтеграции. Несколько дней спустя, 1 декабря, без выложенных в YouTube роликов, весь мир возможно бы и не узнал правду о жестокости спецотрядов милиции во время разгона студентов на Майдане в ночь на 30 ноября. И возможно не узнал бы и об избиении около 40 журналистов возле Администрации Президента вечером 1 декабря.

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Киев, 7 декабря 2013. Автор фото: Олег Мацех

Как же развивались события в первые дни протеста и какова в них роль журналистов? Continue reading

Twitter storm #digitalmaidan – making global outreach possible

by Mark MatlaTwitter Storm #digitalmaidan is a grass-root initiative to spread a word about President Yanukovych’s crimes and police brutality in Ukraine. By conducting Twitter Storm we attract world’s attention through a large number of pre-made tweets sent by users within defined period of time. Ukrainian Twitter Storm uses hashtags #digitalmaidan #euromaidan #ukraine. It lasts for a hour.

On Jan 23, 2014 the first Twitter Storm has been conducted targeting the issue of police violence in Ukraine.
On Jan 30, 2014 – the second one, targeting Yanukovych’s family corruption
On Feb 6, 2014 – the third one, targeting the behavior of ruling Party of Regions members, in particular ex-Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and MP Elena Bondarenko.

Petition: Do not let Prof.Petro from The University of Rhode Island manipulate public opinion in the States regarding protests in Ukraine

We, representatives of Ukrainian Fulbright community, are deeply concerned about the article of Nicolai N. Petro, professor of politics at the University of Rhode Island, published in the National Interest, defending recent laws enacted by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of the Ukrainian government. Here is the link to the article.

{to sign public petition, pls. follow the link}

We believe that as an American citizen who has the freedom to express himself, Mr.Petro is taking advantage of that freedom in expressing his views in his above mentioned article. By defending the unconstitutional laws passed by the Verkhovna Rada, however, Mr.Petro is denying this freedom to every Ukrainian citizen.

We believe that it is Mr.Petro, not the US government who seriously misreads the situation in Ukraine. Mr.Petro has provided no arguments to refute that the government of Ukraine is responsible for the escalation of violence there. If one has been following the protests closely, then he/she must have seen that the protests were peaceful until the events at Hrushevskoho street provoked a violent response to the government crackdown; accordingly, it could not be that such a response was the strategy of the opposition from the beginning, which Mr.Petro, quite mistakenly, claims to be the case. As a scholar, by making statements like that, Mr.Petro needs at least to cite sources, from which he derives his information. Continue reading