How to promote Ukrainian in the occupied and de-occupied settlements?
The temporarily occupied territories are currently under the incredible influence of Russian propaganda. It is quite difficult to provide information resistance to the occupiers in this part of our country. That is why it is important to support the occupied territories of Ukraine, to have at least some connection with those people who are still forced to live under Russia’s pseudo-rule. And it is important to provide Ukrainian citizens with truthful information.
Another question is how to convey the truth to people whose cities have been de-occupied but who remain under the influence of Russian ideas? Ihor Solovey, Head of the Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security, spoke about this and other issues within the Dovidka.info project.
Propaganda in the occupied territories. How does Russia turn people against our country?
We should not overestimate the potential of Russian propaganda. For the most part, it is straightforward and simple. This is its disadvantage, but it is also an advantage. In the temporarily occupied territories, Russia, taking into account this particularity of Russian propaganda, acts accordingly. First of all, Russians destroy competitors – Ukrainian media. In this way, they create a monopoly on information. We can say that Russia is creating a kind of digital ghetto in the temporarily occupied territories. Its task is to cut off Ukrainian citizens from the Ukrainian media space as much as possible.
Various methods are used for this purpose. First and foremost, they seize local TV channels, “re-flash” them to fit their agenda and switch off the Ukrainian signal. They also close down Ukrainian online and printed media and even try to control the Internet. To do this, they direct Internet traffic to Russian servers so that Russian special services can monitor it.
How can each of us counteract this?
The most important thing that each of us can do to counteract Russian propaganda in the occupied territories is to keep the people who live there on the media agenda. To do this, each of us can do our part by keeping in touch with the people who remain there, and thus demonstrate that people under occupation are not left to their fate and will be liberated as soon as possible.
On the front line, only Russian television is picked up because our transmitters have been destroyed. What can be done about it?
The technical side of providing a signal in the occupied territory is the most difficult. There are a number of technical solutions: not all of them are effective, so it is impossible to talk about one method. We need to use combined means. That is why we can say that the most effective way to deliver the Ukrainian signal has been and remains the Internet. Therefore, the most important thing that Ukrainians living in the occupied territories should keep in mind is how to ensure a constant Internet signal, even using Russian servers, as the Russians do. To do this, one should keep their safety in mind first and foremost and use a VPN to ensure that they and the pages they visit can’t be tracked.
Also, don’t forget about the radio. Before the war, many believed that radio was an archaism and a relic. But the current situation has shown that radio should not be underestimated, as it can be an effective channel for delivering information.
There are many people living in the occupied territory who still support Russia or remain neutral. How can the state bring these people back into the Ukrainian information space?
The Ukrainian state is well aware that the people who remain in the occupied territories are citizens of Ukraine with all the rights. Therefore, of course, it tries to keep them on the information agenda. For this purpose, mechanisms are constantly being worked out to deliver information to these occupied territories so that Ukrainians receive the full range of information, not just the information that Russians are trying to distribute through their controlled media by blocking Ukrainian media. First and foremost, we are talking about expanding the range of information channels. This includes the classic television signal, radio signal, and the Internet.
Let’s be frank: the Internet remains perhaps the most reliable channel for delivering information. That is why the government is currently working to create hardware and software capabilities to deliver the Internet signal to the occupied territories. This work is ongoing, there is no single universal method, and, of course, it requires some money and time. There is also no way to say that this issue can be resolved quickly. Therefore, we need to be patient and constantly look for ways to get out of the digital ghetto that Russians are creating in the temporarily occupied territories.
What do we have to do to turn people in the de-occupied territories away from the ideas of the “Russian world”?
First of all, we need to remember that people there remain Ukrainian citizens. There is freedom of speech in Ukraine, and people who haven’t broken the law and aren’t breaking the law are citizens with all the rights. This doesn’t apply to those people who, while in the de-occupied territories, violate the law by spreading pro-Russian propaganda or even cooperate with the enemy, meaning they target and adjust fire. But those who are temporarily deceived and temporarily have a wrong opinion about the situation simply need to be convinced. And the best way to convince them is to show them all the advantages of Ukraine in practice.
It seems to me that those people who survived the occupation felt with their own skin that the “Russian world” is a territory where there are no rights, no freedom, no ordinary comfortable living conditions, where you can lose your property and even your life at any time just because a man with an assault rifle who came and whom nobody was expecting decided to do so. Demonstrating all these features of the “Russian world”, it is necessary to “ground” people, to put it bluntly, and to show them in practice and examples all the disadvantages of the “Russian world” and all the advantages of living in the Ukrainian state.
The person supports pro-Russian ideas. Should we conduct pro-Ukrainian agitation in this case?
The question of worldview is the responsibility of each person personally, so we can’t act using Russian methods, forcing someone to believe in something. We need to conduct explanatory information work and provide access to various sources of information. This is the most important condition for convincing those people who still have certain illusions about the “Russian world” and Russia. And in order for them to understand that they can only be safe, healthy and wealthy in their own, Ukrainian, state.
How to live among those people who support Russia, even though they don’t say it out loud? In fact, they are enemies.
This is a philosophical and psychological question. Of course, everyone chooses the answer to it, some people simply form the circle of friends around them that they feel comfortable with, cutting off those people who are uncomfortable, people with different views, with a different worldview. But if it is impossible to cut these people out of your social circle and you have the strength and desire to persuade them, then of course you need to do so.
In the border area, Russia sends SMS messages like “Surrender, Ukrainians!” and similar ones. How can this be countered?
Work with border areas for Russian propaganda is a separate area of activity for information and psychological units that are part of the Russian armed forces and Russian special services. Therefore, they, accordingly, find various technical mechanisms to deliver their propaganda to Ukrainian citizens.
It is difficult to fight this, because it is a large territory and the hardware systems are constantly being modernised. It is not always possible to respond to these steps in a similar way. We should respond asymmetrically and, first of all, explain to people that everything that comes from the Russian Federation is a lie and it leads to crimes, and also threatens the life, safety and well-being of those Ukrainians who will be influenced by it and think that it would be better if Russia came to them.
Again, it is necessary to explain with particular examples, to convey information about what has happened in those territories where Russia has already come.
The examples of Bucha, Irpin, Kherson, Kharkiv and many other Ukrainian cities where Russia has already been are the best examples of the essence of Russians, the essence of the “Russian world”.
People who can receive these SMS know about this experience and these crimes. They should understand that this is Russian propaganda, and simply treat these insignificant attempts by Russian propaganda to change the minds of Ukrainians with humour.