While the international media and world political leaders question if regular Russian troops fight in hybrid war in Ukraine, Russian soldiers in Donbas shoot amateur video and post it online. Officially, Russia declines the presence of its troops in Donbas, but civic activists and journalists have collected dozens of evidences of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Most of it published in social media. In the first video, Russian soldiers are preparing to drive to Vuhlehirsk, a city in Debaltsevo area where heavy fights are led by insurgents against Ukrainian army. “Hello, Chita!”, “Hello, Ulan-Ude!” – Russian soldiers shouting out the names of Russian cities. Chita is located in Zabaikaliye, Russia, while Ulan-Ude – in Buriatia, Russia.
In the second video, Russian soldiers in Donbas are fighting against …fish. They used grenades to get fish from the lake in Donetsk region. Soldiers identify themselves, shouting out the names of Russian cities: Cheliabinsk, Perm, Belgorod.
Ukrainian media regularly publish pieces about Russian military involvement. On Feb 6, 2014, Cenzor.net.ua published a story about Russian tank captured by Ukrainian soldiers near Debaltsevo.
Recently, Ukrainian activists and bloggers have launched a site to collect the names of separatists supporters. The information about more than 22,600 peoples collected so far.
A team of authors within Carnegie Corporation research project has recently published a report “Protest in the Age of Social Media.” The authors (Joshua A. Tucker, Megan Metzger, Duncan Penfold-Brown, Richard Bonneau, John Jost, Jonathan Nagler) analyze how Ukrainian opposition leaders and, more noticeably, civic activists used social media to reach audiences and bring the Yanukovych regime down. The authors are looking for implications of social media impact:
If social media is indeed changing the ways in which protests emerge and evolve, then what is learned about the Ukrainian situation will provide important lessons for understanding and anticipating political developments all over the world.
The authors suggest to view the impact of social media in Ukraine in three main dimensions, focusing on the use of #euromaidan / #євромайдан hashtags and Facebook updates:
First, social media can help to build a protest movement, and it can do so with remarkable speed. Second, once a movement exists, social media can play an important role in recruiting new members and encouraging participation. Third, once protests are in full swing, social media can spread information about them.
The interest of researchers for the impact of social media use in Ukraine in 2013-2014 remains high and leads to new publications from worldwide aiming to undestand the nature of social media interaction as a vibrant medium of public discussions and self-organization. Just to remind, in Boston, in May 2014, I have published my thesis about the role of social media in news gethering in Ukraine.
Information war against Ukraine run by Kremlin-backed media is supported by pro-Russian puppets, employed by Russian strategists. The recent evidence of this scheme leads to Dragana Trifkovic, a 38-year old woman from Serbia, who joined other foreigners on so-called LNR and DNR elections in Lugansk and Donetsk temporary occupied regions on November 2, 2014. As a Serbian citizen, Trifkovic left many traces of her visit to Donbass via social media – she was posting photos of her meetings with Russian terrorists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Known as a supporter of Russia, Trifkovic was linked to neo-Nazi Russian groups and was heavily commented in Twitter.
On November 9, 2014 she deleted her Twitter account – @DrTrifkovic. Nevertheless, Google cache kept screenshots of her profile:
While her Twitter account is deleted, her Facebook profile is active. A supporter of terrorists exrpesses her love to Russian President Vladimir Putin:
Serbian “expert” might have different reasons to love Putin, but her links to neo-nazi groups in Russia question self-proclaimed good intentions of so called LNR and DNR authorities.
Kremlin will employ puppet “election monitors” that will “observe” and legitimise the “elections” held by the terrorists. Evidence suggests that two “election monitoring organisations” have been in charge of setting up the “election observation missions” for the DNR/LNR: the Eurasian Observatory of Democracy and Elections (EODE) run by Belgian fascist Luc Michel and the European Centre for Geopolitical Analysis (ECGA) run by Polish far right politician Mateusz Piskorski – both have been in the service of the Kremlin’s foreign policy since 2005-2006.
Trifkovic describes herself as a Director General of Center for Geostrategic Studies in Belgrade and claims she is an author at some Serbian sites, such as Fond Slobodan Jovanović, Geopolitika and Novi Standard. Seems, the intellectual level of Serbian elites is quite low if such experts represent Serbian think tanks.
Recently my team from Internews Ukraine has created a video tutorial in cyber security for Internet users in Ukraine. We had a task to deliver key issues in cyber security in an interactive way – to create animation that will simply explain what to do in order to be a meaningful user. How to use https instead of http, how to check the links received in email, how to avoid phishing attacks and build strong passwords. Since the tutorial lasts for almost 5 minutes, we have divided it into five parts – in each video one can find two tips.
In my opinion, users should know much more about cyber security and the list of 10 tips is not complete, but with this tutorial, users may start exploring the issue of cyber security and learn more on their own. The video is in Ukrainian, nevertheless, you can guess from illustrations what it is talking about. If you have any comments on it, please share, what should be improved and what do you like about the tutorial.
Hashtag #russiainvadedukraine was suggested by a student from Belarus who writes by the name @belamova in Twitter. As a result of awareness campaign by Twitter users to inform international community about Russian direct military invasion into Ukraine, the hashtag appaared in Twitter world trends.
According to Topsy data, almost 500,000 tweets with #russiainvadedukraine have been published between August 26-28, 2014. Ukrainian politicians, such as Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and Minister of Foreign Affairs Klimkin used the hashtag in their tweets.
Pro-terrorists users have created a fake Facebook page for Press-Center of Anti-terrorist operation in Ukraine to misinform users about the Ukrainian army fighting against terrorists in Eastern Ukraine. By layout the fake page is identical to the official one – it has the same cover photo, avatar and mission statement.
Many pro-Ukrainian users liked the fake page, in particular 13 my Facebook friends did. While official page of Press-Center of Anti-terrorist operation has 52 300 fans, the fake one – just 3800 fans. The fake page was launched on July 16, 2014 and publishes pro-Russian news and updates from the terrorists – the creators chose the tactic to repost statuses of Russian pro-terrorist users containing propaganda and misleading information.
On August 5, 2014, influential page Euromaidan SOS published a poster to bring attention to the fake page. Many users have submitted appeals to the Facebook abuse team but meanwhile the page is active as of July 13, 2014. Also, Pro-Ukrainian users publish warning messages on the wall of the fake page and in comments to each of its post.
The launch of such fake page might serve another evidence of the Russia informational war against Ukraine.
On July 18, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 has crashed in Ukraine, on the border with Russia, with 298 people onboard. The investigation of the incident examines three main versions of the party responsible for the missile strike: Russian military, Ukrainian military, pro-Russian rebels/terrorists.
The investigators should draw their attention to the social media run by terrorists. In the early hours of the strike, the page devoted to the terrorists’ leader Strelkov (Girkin) informed that “rebels shot down Ukrainian AN-26 plane”. The footage added to the news showed the smoke of the crashed MH17.
In the aftermath, when it was clear that the target of the missile was a Malaysian passenger plane, the terrorists denounced news about shot of Ukrainian AN-26 plane and deleted it. Nevertheless, dozens users have captured screenshots of the news and published it. It might be used as an evidence of pro-Russian terrorists involvement into the biggest plane catastrophe of the recent ten years.
Later, terrorists published the news accusing Ukrainian military planes in shooting Malaysian MH17 down. The inconsistency of the coverage questions terrorists’ informational war. Also, Security Service of Ukraine has published a phone conversation between terrorists discussing the crash of the plane. It identifies the names of those responsible for the missile strike.
Post by terrorists aboit the successfull missile strike of “Ukrainian” plane
To analyze media activism we should ask, who are the actors and what is their background? To implement media activism online, users should have at least relevant experience in blogging, civic activism and the media industry to understand how to successfully inform about the issues they address. In Ukraine, many successful online initiatives during anti-government protests were launched either by representatives of non-profits or journalists with solid experience in the fields. Thus, their experience helped to bring professional standards to grassroots initiatives, making them more noticeable to the eyes of professional media.
One of the examples to illustrate agenda setting by civic activists was the initiative of the Ukraine Crisis Media Center – a temporary institution launched by Ukrainian media experts and public relation specialists in early March 2014. The idea of the center was motivated by the misbalance of media coverage about Ukraine during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in Crimea. The majority of state-owned Russian media used propaganda as a tool to mislead audiences about events in Ukraine. Russian coverage also targeted international media. In response, the initiators of the Center gave a floor to speakers from the Ukrainian government and representatives of the expert community. The center also invited foreign and local journalists, providing them with first hand information, thus encouraging them to generate news within the international and local informational flow, and thus sustaining the Ukrainian point of view on the conflict.
21 червня 2014 року у Вільнюсі активісти з Німеччини, Литви та України поклали вінок та квіти під посольство РФ у Вільнюсі в пам’ять загиблих українців, загинувших під час російської агресії в Україні.
Охорона посольства у грубій формі почала вимагати забратися від посольства і невдовзі викликала поліцію. Литовські поліцейські дружелюбно поставилися до учасників акції і виконали формальність – переписали паспортні дані двох учасників акції.
Акцію в Литві ініціював Тобіас Вейхманн, громадянин Німеччини, що проживає в Вільнюсі, створивши подію у Фейсбуці. Задля безпеки учасників, організатор не визначив точний час акції – учасникам пропонувалося приходити під посольства РФ в Литві у зручний для них час 21 червня 2014.
Вільнюс приєднався до глобальної акції покладання вінків до посольств РФ, яка відбувалася у багатьох країнах світу.
Тобіас замовив вінок напередодні акції і заплатив власні гроші аби підтримати Україну. Фото – Віталій Мороз
Активісти поклали вінок під ворота посольства РФ в Литві. Фото – Віталій Мороз
LifeNews, a Russian tabloid, serving as one of the key propaganda news resources in Russian, utilizes social media to disseminate manipulations and fabrications covering Ukrainian events. The sophisticated work of the newsroom anticipates the active use of Twitter and YouTube.
On May 18, 2014, Ukrainian military seized in Donetsk region two Russians who claimed to be journalists of LifeNews. Ukrainian law enforcement agencies accused Russians of “cooperation with terrorists”, fighting against Ukrainian army near Sloviansk.
In response, LifeNews launched the campaign calling to “save our guys”. Only in Twitter up to 70,000 tweets have been published with hashtag #saveourguys. Russians also appealed to UN and OSCE demanding to free their “journalists.” Ukrainians published evidences of close cooperation between LifeNews representatives and terrorists.
Meanwhile LifeNews continues to manipulate – the recent false they circulated was the news about “killed child” during the anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk airport on May 27. The photo taken to illustrate the “cruelty” of Ukrainian army against civilians, in fact, was a photo from Syria.
Note: LifeNews.ru was launched in 2009 as a yellow news site and since then it became one of the main news source for the Russian audience. Since its launch, the site started paying fees for video footage from witnesses. In 2013, a news TV channels was set based on the Lifenews site. It has journalists in 20 Russian cities.