Six years passed since a news story about the as if crucified boy had been shown on Russian TV. Therein a woman was inventing a story that she saw an execution of a pro-Russian fighter’s little son and wife by Ukrainian troops at the central square of Slov’yansk with her own eyes. «Seeing that we are laughing but people in Russia believe in it instead… At the same time we’ve got already more than 10 000 dead from our side [as the result of Russian-Ukrainian war – editor]. We cannot counter Russian propaganda so effectively as this is done in Lithuania, – so the mayor of Kherson Volodymyr MYKOLAIENKO opened the seminar in Kherson.
On July 24 the Center for Public Diplomacy – in compliance with all quarantine security measures – held the third seminar «Disinformation as an instrument of hybrid warfare: aspects of its spread and possibilities to counter propaganda» for representatives of local authorities, public sector and mass media.
In particular, Neringa BLIŪDŽIŪTĖ, strategic communication consultant, Adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania on strategic communications (2013 – 2017) participated at the event:
«In 2013 I entered two word combinations in Google’s search system: first «Russian aggression» and then – «Ukrainian crisis». Google found 1,5 mln references for the query «Russian aggression», and 22 mln – for the «Ukrainian crisis». So we can make a conclusion (of course, not scientific) that people took the situation not as the Russian aggression but as the Ukrainian crisis. Our task was to convince the West and Europe that this was not Ukraine’s internal problem. At that time it was difficult to stand up against Russian propaganda.
In 2016 I repeated the experiment: Google showed 4,9 mln references for the «Russian aggression», and 46,6 mln – for the «Ukrainian crisis». Therefore, we saw that the balance of opinions concerning the situation in Ukraine and Crimea, in particular, changed for 3 years.
This year I’ve repeated the experiment: «Russian aggression» – 37 mln, «Ukrainian crisis» – 29 mln. Thus, for today it has become much easier for us and you to deliver and defend our messages».
Iryna ZHOVTA, chief specialist of the European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Division of the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine has pointed out that the term «strategic communications» is also known in Ukraine. For the first time it was stated in the Doctrine of Information Security of Ukraine in 2016. In a year the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine adopted the Strategic Communication Concept, and the Government – the Concept of Government Communications of Ukraine. Why Ukraine responds to disinformation not with propaganda but with strategic communications – we’ll tell more in detail in the separate post based on the theses of Ms. Irina’s speech.
Andrii SHCHEKUN, director of the Information Centre “Voice of Crimea”, editor-in-chief of the newspaper “Krymska Svitlytsya” told what the Crimean activists were doing just after the takeover of buildings of the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers of Crimea on the night of February 26th to 27th, 2014: «We made up our minds to break through the information space so that Ukraine and the world would see that there were Ukraine’s supporters in Crimea and they would defend Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine. At that time only pro-Russian demonstrations were held in Crimea involving also the Kuban Cossacks living at Crimean health centers then. We realized that as activists we could resist only by providing information, and that is why we decided to hold demonstrations near the monument to Taras Shevchenko in Simferopol. From March 2, 2014 the demonstrations became daily: first 20 people came, the next day – 100. It looked funny when on the first day 20 people came, and nearly 200 journalists that had arrived from throughout Europe gathered».
Natalka SAD, expert on communications, board member of the Center for Public Diplomacy has told why people are manipulated and why it is so difficult to resist disinformation. «Daily average time spent online of an average inhabitant of the Earth – 6 hours 43 min. Over a lifetime a person spends more than 5 years for social media, and more than 7 years – for watching TV. This time will be enough to fly to the moon 32 times, to pass along the Great Wall of China 21 196 km long 3,5 times, to climb the highest top of the world Everest 32 times and to run the marathon (42 km 195 m) 10 000 times… Both online and on television they compete for our loyalty, often, if not always, manipulating. A person cannot maintain the ability to think critically during 6 hours 43 min, so we become vulnerable to disinformation, fake news and propaganda».
Dar’ya HLUSHCHENKO, speechwriter analyst, head of Communications Department at the Ukrainian National Bar Association shared the basic fact checking skills.
«20 thousand fake messages for 4 years of Donald Trump’s presidency is a tendency that came to us as well. The good news is that there are some organisations in Ukraine dealing with the fact checking – StopFake, VoxCheck and Slovo i Dilo. Compared to journalistic investigation, fact checking involves journalists working with the official and open sources or experts evaluation made by real experts. In other words, it’s not possible to use the insider information here, to cite the anonymous reliable sources, etc.». We’ll tell about the fact checking procedure in our further posts.
The seminar was held in cooperation with the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting of Ukraine, the Kherson City Council, in partnership with the «Cultural Centre Ukraine-Lithuania» and funded under the Development Cooperation and Democracy Promotion Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Užsienio reikalų ministerija.