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- Is there corruption in Ukraine?
Yes, there is corruption in Ukraine. In 1991, Ukraine gained its independence. The country however was not built from scratch, but formed a new state policy and put all spheres on the rails, while trying to cope with the problems inherited from the period of Soviet occupation. One of such serious problems that Ukrainian society is still solving is corruption. Since the 1990s, Ukraine was always included in the list of countries with a high level of corruption, but the situation changed significantly in 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity. In fact, people’s frustration with the corruption in the governmental structures was actually one of the reasons for the revolution. Вuring Viktor Yanukovych's presidency, corruption flourished, and his government played, unfortunately, a large and sad role in this process. A large part of the society demonstrated its absolute intolerance to corruption in the state - and active anti-corruption activities began. But how successful are they? What are the said success indicators? What about fresh corruption scandals? And is Ukraine safe for investment? Let's understand in the article. Authors: Olena Pozniakova, Iryna Hadetska Photо: A protester near the Constitutional Court in Kyiv due to the decision to abolish criminal liability for false declarations for officials and people's deputies, 2020 / UNIAN, Viacheslav Ratynsky What is the general situation with corruption in Ukraine? Corruption in Ukraine is still at a high level compared to other developed countries. But the active involvement of Ukrainian society and foreign partners in solving the problem is increasing every year and is not abating even now, during full-scale Russian aggression. How do we know that the problem of corruption in Ukraine is being solved? Above all, from independent data. One of the main indicators that helps to assess the level and effectiveness of anti-corruption measures in the country is the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), compiled by the global anti-corruption organization Transparency International. Simply put, the CPI collects survey data and expert judgments from entrepreneurs, academics and analysts to assess the risks of how corrupt the public (government) sector is in a country. Phоtо: The 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index map/ Transparency International Over the past 9 years, Ukraine has steadily improved its position in the CPI rating. So, in 2013 Ukraine was in the 144th place with 25 points out of a possible 100, and in 2022 it was placed at the 116th place with 33 points. "In the CPI rating, Ukraine has added 8 points over the past 9 years, and that's a lot. According to the methodology, if the country gained more than 4 points, this is a significant change. And currently, Ukraine is among the top 15 countries in which there are strong positive drivers of the fight against corruption," commented Andrii Borovyk, executive director of Transparency International Ukraine. Where does corruption come from in Ukraine? It’s safe to say that corruption is a result of the Soviet occupation. After the collapse of the USSR, in Ukraine, as in most countries of the ex-unions, political power was taken over mainly by former high-ranking officials and communists. In the Soviet Union, corruption and nepotism were the norm, and therefore officials who were used to such a model of existence and management worked in the same way: including political forces competing with oligarchs, bureaucracy, important issues being solved “off the record”, raiding, prestigious positions being given to "the right people” or payed off with bribes. Both during the Soviet regime and in the 1990s, corruption formed the basis of relations between society and the government. Thus, problems and tension accumulated in the state. In particular, the young increasingly expressed their opposition to corruption, formed actions, movements and organizations in order for Ukraine to change and develop on the basis of law and democratic values. Ukrainians sought to improve the standard of living, realizing that corruption is one of the factors that makes positive changes impossible. Thus, in 2013, Ukrainian society supported the course towards Europe announced by the authorities, and the EU, in turn, supported the fight against corruption in Ukraine. But just one step before signing the agreement on European integration, then pro-Russian government of Viktor Yanukovych suddenly canceled the decision which let the Revolution of Dignity. Photo: Participants of the Revolution of Dignity on Independence Square in Kyiv / Vyacheslav Ratynskyi When did Ukrainian society start fighting corruption? The most active and visible fight against corruption began with the overthrow of the Yanukovych regime in the early 2014. Then, quite quickly, the newly re-elected Ukrainian parliament adopted a comprehensive anti-corruption package of laws. These laws, in particular, created a new system of anti-corruption bodies, a register of corrupt officials, and, in addition, introduced mechanisms for social control of state managers and lustration of compromised officials, which contributed to the Yanukovych regime. Information on public procurement, the Soviet archives of the KGB became open to the public, and officials also undertook to publish data on income and property. At the same time, society also took a big step: targeted public organizations were created, whole groups of journalists investigated cases of corruption, any known cases of corruption became media-known and resonant. Who and how fights corruption in Ukraine? The fight against corruption works only with an integrated approach - for the result to be noticeable, society, businesses, state bodies, journalists, activists, experts and international organizations must cooperate. "The fight against corruption consists of several issues: in particular, prevention and punishment. The most effective warning is when the system is built in such a way that no one, has the opportunity to commit corruption offenses”, says Andrii Borovyk, executive director of the NGO "Transparency International Ukraine". What does the Ukrainian government do with corruption? After all, the system of anti-corruption bodies in Ukraine was built after 2014 according to the following principle: first of all, we prevent corruption. So, for example, one of the central anti-corruption bodies, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, checks the declarations of officials, financing of political parties, keeps registers of corrupt persons, etc. In 2022, the agency carried out more than 130 checks of declarations and as a result, discovered data on hidden assets with a total value of UAH 658.4 million. When the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption detects a violation, the case is transferred to another supporting anti-corruption body - the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine. It investigates the most socially dangerous and high-profile corruption crimes. So, for example, in June of this year detectives and prosecutors of the specialized anti-corruption prosecutor's office managed to compensate the state for damages in the amount of UAH 32 million in the case of embezzlement by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources back in 2012. In total, in 2022 National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption launched more than 450 investigations, as a result of which 54 indictments were issued (including against people's deputies, civil servants, employees of the prosecutor's office, courts, tax and fiscal services). There’s also Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office which controls compliance with laws during the operational investigative activities of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption pre-trial investigation. Among the anti-corruption bodies is the State Bureau of Investigation, a law enforcement agency that investigates criminal proceedings involving law enforcement officers, judges, and top officials. In 2022, the buerau launched investigations into more than 15,000 criminal proceedings and detained more than 650 corrupt officials - law enforcement officers, tax officials, and customs officials. More than half of them have already been brought to justice. Also, thanks to the anti-corruption reform, a specialized High Anti-Corruption Court was established in Ukraine, which became operational in 2019. In 2022, the court considered 49 cases, in 37 it issued guilty verdicts. It should be emphasized that before 2014 and the anti-corruption reforms, there were almost no cases of prosecution of corrupt officials among the political elite and high-ranking officials in Ukraine. What do Ukrainian citizens do with corruption? Society in Ukraine is strong and active. And since 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity and as a result of Russia's aggression, the population has realized the importance of an active position, actions and unification for the sake of countering problems and the aggressor. An effective fight against corruption consists of prevention, punishment (the state is responsible for these two components), as well as the activity of the society, which is historically powerful in Ukraine. Thus, under constant public pressure, the state apparatus is forced to react and becomes more and more interested in solving the problem of corruption, because at least it wants to satisfy the interests of its voters", summarizes Andrii Borovyk, executive director of the NGO "Transparency International Ukraine". According to the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption report, in Ukraine, the share of the population that has a negative attitude towards corruption is steadily increasing every year - in 2021 it was 49.4%, in 2022 it was 57.4%. Currently, 2/3 of Ukrainians (64.2%) consider corruption to be a very serious problem, second only to Russia's aggression. Journalistic investigations Citizens' awareness has increased significantly due to the efforts of the state and international partners, as well as actions of the most engaged part of the population - activists and journalists. In 2014, several projects and television programs were launched that exposed the facts of corruption: such as "Slidstvo.Info", "Schemy", “Bihus.Info” and others. Currently, there are dozens of such initiatives and hundreds of revealing journalistic investigations. NGOs NGO “Center for Combating Corruption”, created in 2012, became one of the main lobbyists for anti-corruption legislation and the creation of anti-corruption bodies in 2014. For 11 years, the Centre has been exposing corruption schemes of Ukrainian officials and ensuring that corrupt officials are brought to justice. For example, thanks to the their timely reaction and publicity, in July of 2023, the Verkhovna Rada withdrew amendments to the Criminal Code, which could potentially lead to the release of corrupt officials from liability and the cancellation of some of the existing sentences in corruption cases. Another social movement, "Chesno", has created useful information resources for citizens: databases of Ukrainian state traitors, biographies of Ukrainian politicians involved in corruption cases, lists of the political donors, a chatbot for tracking changes in legislation, tools for tracking formal and informal ties of officials. All this was brought to life so that everyone interested can easily monitor the activity and integrity of politicians. Also, in order to ensure the transparency of the country's reconstruction processes and the targeted use of infections, Ukrainian and international public organizations formed the RISE Ukraine coalition in July 2022. Its main task is to make public access to reconstruction budgets and financial reporting on the used reconstruction funds. The coalition initiated the creation of the DREAM state digital system which collects, organizes and publishes open data across all stages of reconstruction projects in real time to minimize the possibility of embezzlement and corruption schemes. Is it safe to invest in business in Ukraine now? Currently, according to a study by the European Business Association, the Investment Attractiveness Index of Ukraine in the second half of 2022 is 2.48 points out of 5 possible. For comparison, in the first half of 2022, the Index was 2.17 points. According to representatives of foreign and Ukrainian business, the list of negative factors for the investment climate in Ukraine was headed by Russia's full-scale military aggression against Ukraine, in second place by Russian attacks on the Ukrainian energy system, and in third place by corruption. Despite the war, 99% of surveyed companies plan to continue working on the Ukrainian market in 2023, and 63% are going to invest in Ukraine even in wartime. In general, Ukraine as a country for investment is an attractive desination because here investors can earn faster. But the risks for investors are also higher, due to corruption, bureaucracy, and above all due to Russia's military aggression. It’s assumed that the period of post-war reconstruction in Ukraine will be promising for investors. What do investors who decide to invest/do business in Ukraine need to know? "First, potential investors should know that anti-corruption bodies are quite independent - you can and should contact them, they work and are effective. Secondly, business and investors should clearly express their position - communicate that they do not agree to participate in corruption schemes and pay bribes. Thirdly, remember that as investors, they also have the right to vote, influence and can speak about the shortcomings of the system - the state will listen”, says the executive director of NGO "Transparency International Ukraine," Andrii Borovyk. Potential investors should know that for the sake of transparency and investment attractiveness most registers are open in Ukraine, and for convenience, they are all collected on this Open Data Portal. Here you can find registers that highlight information related to corruption. This is, in particular, the register of persons who have committed corruption offenses; register of declarations of employees of state bodies and local self-government bodies; register of reports of political parties, etc. In total, more than 72,000 datasets are available on the Open Data Portal. You can also find the necessary court decisions, information on public procurement or budgets. In Ukraine, there is also a Prozorro website, where you can find information about every product and service that is purchased with public funds - that is, with citizens' taxes. If a suspicious purchase is detected, you can file a complaint on the Dozorro monitoring portal. In addition, Ukranian digital governmental platfmorm DIIA, widely known abroad, allow you to register a business or receive documents and certificates simply online, which makes corruption schemes impossible. In general, digitalization is a powerful factor in overcoming corruption. It ensures transparency and accountability, minimizes the human factor. What are Ukraine's prospects when it comes to corruption? The stability and success of the fight against corruption in Ukraine depends on the joint work of society, business and the state, and currently each of the components is actively working in the direction of fighting corruption. The most noticeable is the progress of the Ukrainian public in the fight against corruption, even despite Russia's aggressive war. Ukraine was marked by a really noticeable increase, and the system of anti-corruption bodies showed its effectiveness. In its report, GRECO indicated that in a year of full-scale war, Ukraine completed more reforms than in several previous years. Of course, Ukraine still has a lot of work ahead of it and the path to integration with the EU, which is possible only with an effective fight against corruption. Is it possible to overcome corruption in Ukraine? It is impossible to completely eradicate corruption in any country, but it is realistic to reduce its level to the level that does not systematically affect state, social and partnership processes. Currently, Ukraine has a clearly defined strategy for the coming years, fairly independent anti-corruption bodies and a conscious society. The next steps are the improvement of anti-corruption legislation and state control, reforms, increased transparency in relations between the state and the public, implementation of 16 more GRECO recommendations on fighting corruption. A few years may be enough for Ukraine to reach the level of European countries in the fight against corruption. Here, success depends entirely on the efforts of society and the state.
- How did the architecture of Kyiv take its form and why is it globally unique
The architecture of modern Kyiv is exceptionally diverse. Postmodern and high-tech buildings stand right next to monuments of architecture built already in the 11th century. We are in a conversation with Glib Ushakov — PHD in architecture, a lecturer on the Cultural Project education platform — about how the architecture of Kyiv took its shape, how was it influenced by historical events, what architecture styles can be found in the capital and why the architecture of architecture is unique on a global scale. Translation: Ryszard Benda How did the architecture of Kyiv take its shape? The architecture of Kyiv developed in a non-linear manner, against the continuity of flourishment and decline of styles. Today the urban structure of the capital consists mostly of historical structures designed throughout different historical periods. If we were to look at the whole history of the city, we could observe a continuity of several periods of quick development leading to creation of an urban environment consistent in its structures and styles: Middle Ages (Kyivan Rus, flourished in the 12th century) Baroque (flourished in the 18 century). Classicism (flourished in the first half of the 19th century). Capitalism (flourished in the beginning of the 20th century). These are the periods of greatest flourishment of the city’s architecture and the city as a whole, when Kyiv developed in a manner similar to the most important cities of the globe. From the historical and cultural perspective, it was in the Middle Ages when Kyiv was the most significant in its history. Throughout the history of the city, we do not really witness systematic development, but rather a process of adaptation to multiple catastrophes which caused quick and massive destruction of large parts of the most precious districts, as well as the death of large numbers of its residents. These terrible events include: 1240 – Kyiv captured and destroyed by the Mongol empire commanded by Batu Khan. 1811– massive fire at one of the key districts of the city – Podil. September 1941– Russian saboteurs blew up the area around the Khreshchatyk during the German occupation. Many different political and other events and processes influenced the development of Kyiv. In spite of all these difficulties, a unique environment with authentic architecture landmarks emerged. Global architecture trends were introduced here to mix with pre-existing traditions, most importantly of wooden architecture. In the 20th century, that is when the development of industrial zones and residential districts was most intense and rapid, much of the historical urban structure and many significant architectural monuments, often dating back to the Middle Ages, were lost. Most of that took place during the so-called “godless five-year plan” of 1932-1937, when the Soviet authorities deliberately destroyed dozens of Kyivan churches. Kyiv has an incredible potential for restoration of historical areas and reconstruction of particularly significant monuments of architecture that have been lost. The path to harmonious development of the modern city structures, taking the necessary preservation of the historical city into consideration, is possible. Architecture styles in contemporary Kyiv The chronological development of the Kyiv urban structure features a wide range of styles, such as authentic wooden architecture from the Middle Ages, baroque, classicism, eclectism, modernism, neoclassicism. In the 21st century the city is witnessing a new construction boom. A great number of residential districts, as well as business and shopping centres, are being built now. One can particularly notice numerous tall multi-storey buildings, that considerably change the panorama of the city. Even though the city features some buildings that seem out of place from the urbanistic or aesthetic point of view, Kyiv can be a place of excursions showing not only historical themes, but also presenting clear examples of tendencies and ideas corresponding to global trends. Fortunately enough, there are plenty of architecture venues, build after Ukraine gained its independence, in line with contemporary tendencies of global architecture development. In the 1990’s the ideas of postmodernism gained much influence. The historical urban structure was reconstructed in a modern fashion, highlighting the cultural context and blending the modern architecture with historical forms. A bank on the Peremohy Avenue A residential building on the Ivan Mazepa Street St Basil the Great’s greek-catholic church at the Voznezenskyy Descent Reconstructed „Besarabian city blоck” The „Illinskyy” business centre The greek-catholic Patriarchal church of Christ’s Resurrection Architecture sites where technological innovations, as well as modern structural and engineering solutions are apparent in their architectural form, are a continuation of the development of modernism – high-tech. The following buildings were built in the 1990's and 2000's: The south terminal of the railway station A shopping-business centre ”Parus” The „D” terminal of the international “Boryspil” airport In the 21st century new buildings, conceptually inspired by deconstructivism and featuring sharp compositional solutions and complex forms, most particularly in the form of irregular polyhedra, are built in Kyiv. «Sky towers» multi-function cоmplex Kyiv document office “Hоtovo” «Diadans» residential cоmplex At the beginning of the 21st century Kyiv sees the rise of buildings featuring nature‑like bionic curved lines. These are typical for biomorphism: Taryan Tоwers “Intergal City” multi-function cоmplex At the turn of the 20th century the architecture of Kyiv was influenced by global tendencies in architecture. Postmodernism and high-tech are particularly pronounced. Why is the architecture of Kyiv globally unique Kyiv is not only enumerated along with the most important cities of the world, but occupies a distinct place among the historical capitals of great countries. Most of the monuments of architecture and the general historical urban structure of the city are gone. This does not diminish the historical importance of the city though. The archeological potential of Kyiv is of particular value. From among the most valuable archeological treasures, only a few of them are visible over the surface, while much more of them are still buried underground. Most of these have not yet been found and researched. They are the archeological remains of the city and truly outstanding buildings. The architectural sites of global cultural importance include preserved buildings from the Middle ages – the Kyivan Rus period. The underground cave systems of monasteries in Kyiv and its area, starting from the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, are of invaluable cultural and historical significance. The Kyivan examples of religious and civilian architecture in Ukrainian baroque style (the St. Sophia Cathedral, the Metropolitan Bishop’s building, the St. Michael’s Golden Dome Monastery, the Uspenskyy Cathedral of the Kyivan-Pechersk Lavra) have exceptional value to the world and European architecture heritage. These buildings do not copy the Western baroque, but demonstrate one of many local variations of the global style. Left Phоtо: the St. Michael’s Golden Dome Monastery Right Photо: the Metropolitan Bishop’s building Architectural monuments unique on the global scale First of all – the Church of the Tithes, expanded until the beginning of the 13th century, destroyed during the Mongol invasion in 1240. It is a complex of stone structures including the Church of the Tithes, palace buildings around it, unusually large rotundas and additional sculptures. Today, this complex is preserved as a monument of architecture and includes the remains of foundations as well as different variations on its historical layout. Hopefully, in the future these foundations could be covered with a transparent protection layer and open for excursions. Among the monuments available on the surface, the one that is the most important Ukrainians and for world heritage is the National Sanctuary “Sophia of Kyiv”, including a unique monument – the Saint Sophia Cathedral (11th century), its bell tower and other structures. Three other large churches, located between the Golden Gate and the Saint Sophia Cathedral were an inherent part of the complex and together they used to form a consistent composition. According to one hypothesis, it included the church of Saint Irina and the church of Saint George. Their foundations are preserved as monuments of architecture. The Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra was founded on a cave monastery in the 11th century. Its underground structures were preserved over a millenium and have been the foundation of the complex till our times. After the renovation of the main building of the complex – the Uspensky Cathedral – in the year 2000, its compositional consistency was restored. The gate church of the Holy Trinity, founded in the beginning of the 12th century and the bell tower are of exceptional value to the skyline of the city from the Dnipro bank. What is the most valuable about the complex is its exceptional cultural, historical and spiritual significance throughout the ages. This is why it survived in its complex form, making it a tiny city within a city itself. The Saint Sophia and the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra complex are already on the UNESCO World Heritage List. At the beginning of the 18th century the city fortifications from the Middle Ages were absorbed by the Kyiv fortress, which gave rise to an enormous earth stronghold. This complex consists of earth structures and numerous other buildings. Not long ago this unique complex of fortifications was partly preserved and partly demolished, so that other buildings could be built on it. Notwithstanding its status of a monument of architecture of national value, many preserved structures remain neglected and the risk of their collapse is real. Today it is vital to proclaim the whole territory of the fortress a landmark that must not be built over, but which must be uncovered and restored. Only a small part of that historical complex is a museum now, while other parts are also very valuable from the historical and touristic point of view. For example, the star-shaped fortifications around the massive building of the Mystetskyy Arsenal may be transformed into an appealing recreation zone with a historical context. The Khreshchatyk complex was established in the 1950’s in an area that had suffered massive damages during the 2nd World War. This complex features unique architecture and a one of a kind style. Notwithstanding the use of different approaches to construction, it preserved its consistency and urbanistic composition. Its unique ceramic facades are exceptionally remarkable. The National Sports Complex „Olimpiyskyy” is also among internationally recognized contemporary buildings of Kyiv. The stadium has an innovative roof structure based on a complex structure: tent cover in a distinct composition. The architecture of Kyiv features a diverse range of styles: one can notice baroque, classicist and postmodern buildings. Their construction, adaptation and future has always been influenced by historical events, changes of ruling powers, new trends in architecture and the needs of the city's residents. Everyone, regardless where they are from, can find something to admire in the Kyiv's architecture.
- Encouraging the Power of Sharing: Amplifying Ukrainians’ Stories
The last 18 months have shown us that nowadays you should check not only the information on the Internet, but even the publications of the worldwide media, as propaganda is becoming less noticeable and more powerful. As part of our YOUR REPOST MATTERS* information campaign, we support the idea that it’s important to seek answers to the issues of Russia's war against Ukraine from the Ukrainians themselves. That’s why we talked to Ukrainian creators who prove through their activities that supporting reliable sources truly makes a difference. Enjoy! *YOUR REPOST MATTERS in an information campaign created by the independent Ukrainian media WithUkraine with a support from 3MIN Foundation At what point did you start writing about Ukraine in English? Maria Kuchapska, founder of Vinok Collective Actually, for several years, this page was an embroidery account where I shared English-language stitching tutorials and patterns, and managed to gain a wide western audience and platform. Naturally, when the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, I knew I needed to use this platform to share what is being done to Ukraine. Surprisingly, many of the people who followed me for embroidery continued to follow, support, share, and donate. Tetyana Denford, Ukrainian author and translator I grew up in New York: speaking Ukrainian, not knowing English. There, I noticed that it was difficult for Ukrainians to reach the locals, who were only interested in issues covered by English-speaking media. People whom I met mostly used to tell me that I was "Russian", because Ukraine "did not exist" for them at that time. When I started my career as a writer, I began to talk about my Ukrainian heritage and the stories of my grandparents more often. People took it really well! When the full-scale invasion began, I used my passion and anger to work and show what kind of people Ukrainians are and what kind of history and culture we have. Oleksandr Shyn, co-founder of Ukrainian Voices in Taiwan I started writing about Ukraine in English when I was a teenager because I went to study abroad. Surrounded by foreigners, I had a desire to advertise and promote Ukraine, but with each step of invasion, first in 2014 and then in 2022, the need to promote the voice of the Ukrainian resistance became crucial to me. Marichka Buchelnikova, co-founder of Ukraine Explainers Together with my partner, Stas Olenchenko, we started to write about Ukraine following the full-scale invasion. The unknown danger made us think about how to use our skills and experience to help. I remember seeing so much misunderstanding of the Ukrainian context in Western media, lots of disappointing takes. That’s how we created Ukraine Explainers – articles and explainer cards on everything Ukraine. Stas is writing, and I’m editing. Together we're brainstorming and distributing. Julia Kyrylova-Fedorchenko, political and media expert, blogger As a media professional and a specialist in the field of international information, I am more than familiar with the intersection of politics and media. When the full-scale invasion began, I had already lived abroad for many years – but I immediately knew that it would be very important to promptly explain the Russian aggression to foreigners because the Russians were preparing way beforehand, so their propaganda struck immediately. At first try, my activities did not break through as largely as I wanted – that’s when I understood that people abroad really didn’t know much about Ukraine. Even in Europe. But I felt like they were ready to listen and hear us – so I continued. I changed the subject of my content and started talking about Ukrainian culture and clothing in English. Today, I feel like this helps to show that besides all the tragedies caused by the Russian terrorism, Ukraine also has a rich culture and history. Julia Tymoshenko, marketing manager at SaintJavelin and contributor at Ukraїner I studied in an international university, so I have lots of friends from all over the world. In January 2022, a lot of them started getting concerned about the looming Russian invasion and my safety. One of my close friends reached out by saying that he couldn’t find any quick information on social media about Ukraine or how to help. That made me realise that there is a big gap online when it comes to English-language content made by Ukrainians. That prompted me to create my first carousel on Instagram titled “Tl/dr: What’s happening in (and around) Ukraine” on January 22, 2022. Although I created it just for my international college friends, it went insanely viral, proving that there is a huge need for this type of content. Valeriia Voshchevska, Ukrainian campaigner and host at UkrainianSpaces I started writing about Ukraine in English right before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Living abroad, I started to feel extremely overwhelmed and anxious about the constant flow of questions I was getting from foreigners who were watching the news and panicking about whether Russia would invade Ukraine or not. This was happening because, as I saw it, there was simply not enough content about Ukraine in English published online, so people resorted to finding information from personal connections. So when Julia Tymoshenko published her first viral post about the situation in Ukraine on her Instagram page, I was also inspired to create content to explain Ukraine to the world in English. As a social media specialist, I knew I had to use all the skills to help my country. Mariam Naiem, cultural researcher War affects you on many levels, including the feeling of helplessness. Therefore, I needed to understand what I could do in this war and what my role was. I'm not brave enough to go to the front, but what can I do? I am a cultural researcher, so I began to explain the cultural aspects of this war. Also, as a Ukrainian of Afghan origin, I understood that I have the right to explain all the myths related to the “Nazis in Ukraine”, which were created by Russian propaganda and still exist in Western media. Why is it important to write and share quality content about Ukraine in English? Maria Kuchapska, founder of Vinok Collective It's crucial to share content in English because Ukrainians are global citizens, and the Russian war against Ukraine is also a global issue. Ukrainians are fighting for and defending universal values: democracy, freedom, and sovereignty. We have no shortage of courage and bravery – but we need weapons. Our survival and victory depend on support from our allies, both on individual and institutional levels. With the full-scale war in its second year, now more than ever, it's crucial to talk in detail about the extent of Russian aggression so that supporters and allies don't become apathetic and desensitised. The war is not over! Mariam Naiem, cultural researcher Russia spent and continues to spend incredible amounts of money on propaganda. This is a consequence of the imperialist past – the voice of an empire is always louder. They have lots of resources to do that. Ukraine does not have similar financial resources, but we have people. That's why it's crucial to share information in English. Even if you don't have an English-speaking audience, if you see important posts from the verified Ukrainian sources, like and share! This increases social media coverage so that more people will see the truth. This is our responsibility. Julia Kyrylova-Fedorchenko, political expert and history enthusiast It’s especially important now when the Russian Federation uses narratives with slogans such as «we are the country of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky – that’s why we could not commit those crimes in Bucha». Unfortunately, this narrative has deeply penetrated many countries of the world, particularly in Europe. And sadly, this also builds some kind of emotional connection to Russia – through over-romanticized literature and ballet, people tend to forget about the crimes committed by Russia. Also, international media outlets publish news about Ukraine with a time delay, and some news may never reach the audience abroad. This, of course, is fairly understandable, because apart from events in Ukraine, foreign media should also cover news from around the world as well as their own local stories. Therefore, it is extremely important for us, Ukrainians, to create news in English, because there is a chance that no one else will do it. Therefore, we should remember: if we do not spread information about events in Ukraine from Ukrainians themselves, it is most likely that the Russians will spread it, but in their own interpretation. Tetyana Denford, Ukrainian author and translator Now, more than ever, people who have a platform and a creative spirit have a duty to attract the audience so that they hear us, Ukrainians, and learn from us. We need to "connect" people not with crazy ideas and propaganda, but with true stories, hope, creativity and fearlessness. This is our heritage. The creators are the storytellers; we are the future. Marichka Buchelnikova, co-founder of Ukraine Explainers I would point out four main reasons: To advocate our interests better and build a stronger bridge between Ukraine and the democratic world. To help other countries understand Russian imperialism and colonialism so they can fight it, too. Not to lose international financial and military support of Ukraine. To fight Russian propaganda and Russian narratives. Very obvious, but the less there is information about Ukraine, the more there’s information about Russia. Oleksandr Shyn, co-founder of Ukrainian Voices in Taiwan We should be aware that besides the outright haters of Ukraine and paid pro-Russian propagandists, there are also people in-between. These are people who have no connection to Ukraine or Europe. These people may also not solidarise with us because they simply don’t understand the situation. The majority of people in the world are like that. Our task is not only to help them avoid Russian disinformation, but also to inspire them to join Ukrainian resistance, at least emotionally. Julia Tymoshenko, marketing manager at SaintJavelin and contributor at Ukraїner As the time goes by, foreign media write less about Ukraine. Even if you have only one follower from abroad, you must use your platform to remind the world that Russians are committing genocide in Ukraine, every day. We cannot rely on foreign media and think that they will spread true information without Russian manipulation or lies. If we create and distribute English-language content ourselves, at least we can control the narratives and filter out Russian propaganda, thus balancing the information field. Valeriia Voshchevska, Ukrainian campaigner and host at UkrainianSpaces Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just a war of Russian bombs, artillery and missiles. It’s also one of Russia's harmful narratives and disinformation. A few years ago, if you wanted to influence public opinion, a good press release would have been enough. But nowadays the media landscape has changed. Social media has given an unprecedented opportunity for millions of people around the world to make change happen, but it has also allowed bad actors to take advantage of vulnerable audiences for their own selfish goals. Through propaganda, disinformation and lies Putin has tried to convince domestic and external audiences that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is not a fascist genocidal invasion, but a war of “liberation”. Unfortunately, social media has allowed for these fake, manipulative and harmful narratives to spread at a speed we haven’t seen before. That’s why I think that it is the duty of socially-conscious creators to counter narratives created by Russia, and all other authoritarian dictatorships. What would you like the world to understand about Ukraine and Ukrainians? Julia Kyrylova-Fedorchenko, political expert and history enthusiast When I communicate with foreigners, I always try to be very clear: Ukraine is not Russia and it’s a war between two worlds – totalitarian and democratic, so it is not about “just some territories”, but about the lives of real people who do not want to live in terror. Also, I would like them to understand that we are talented and – despite everything – positive people. I really want Ukraine to remain in international consciousness as a modern and courageous country. And, most importantly, I want the world to know and remember about the crimes of the Russian Federation against humanity in recent centuries, especially in the 20th century and today. Because until this information becomes common knowledge, the Russians will try to avoid responsibility for all the horrors they have committed. And this is unacceptable. Julia Tymoshenko, marketing manager at SaintJavelin and contributor at Ukraїner I want foreigners not to disassociate themselves from us and our pain, but to continue to empathise and respond to our appeals. When foreign media reports become the same and they focus only on numbers of casualties or major tragedies, people lose a personal connection to our struggle. Therefore, it is very important that there are English-speaking opinion leaders from Ukraine who, through personal stories, will continue to raise awareness about Ukraine. Marichka Buchelnikova, co-founder of Ukraine Explainers I keep repeating two things: 1. Ukraine is a subject, not an object. We can make our own decisions, we define our future, and we’re not anyone’s pawns. 2. Democracy and security around the world depend on Ukraine’s victory. Unfortunately, the world still can’t get it. But we keep working to change it. Tetyana Denford, Ukrainian author and translator The world must understand that Ukrainians want Ukraine to be free from Russian control, they want to protect democracy at all costs, they are a European country, and they will fight to the death to protect the land that created them. Mariam Naiem, cultural researcher The less you hear about the war, the worse it becomes for Ukrainians. The reality, daily life, and life of Ukrainians are becoming more complicated daily. Remember, if the media begins to talk less about this topic, it does not mean the situation is improving. This means that it is necessary to read Ukrainian voices that will convey the problem that exists in reality. Valeriia Voshchevska, Ukrainian campaigner and host at UkrainianSpaces My content and activism is strongly influenced by my country’s ongoing struggle against Russian imperialism and colonialism. That is why I want the world to understand that if you’re against imperialism and colonialism worldwide, you’re against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To truly understand what is happening in Ukraine right now, it’s important to know the oppressive relationship that Russia has had as an imperial and colonial power in the region with all its ex-colonies. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine must be seen as a continuation of Russia’s obsession with control, oppression and domination of others. Want to reach out to these Ukrainian creators? Find them on social media: Mariam Naiem: Instagram and Twitter Tetyana Denford: Instagram and Twitter Marichka Buchelnikova: Instagram and Twitter Maria Kuchapska: Instagram Julia Kyrylova-Fedorchenko: Instagram Oleksandr Shyn: Twitter Valeria Voshchevska: Instagram and Twitter Julia Tymoshenko: Instagram and Twitter
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