Seventh International MediaBarCamp to be held in Lithuania on May 1-4, 2014

On May 1-4, 2014, the seventh International MediaBarCamp dedicated to usingnew features of Internet media and to the development of media activism will be held in Lithuania. On May 10, 2014 it will be 20 years since the establishment of the Belarusian national domain .BY, so MediaBarCamp 2014 is the main event dedicated to this date. MediaBarCamp 2014 is organised by Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC).

The main purpose of Мediabarcamp 2014 is to exchange experience in the use of Internet for social and cultural projects of all different varieties. We invite all participants (media, public and political organizations etc.) to present their online projects and to find like-minded people. Additionally, you will be able to share your experience of raising funds for web projects or learn from the experience of others (self-financing, external, or collective financing etc.).

The last day of registration is April 7, 2014. Follow for more info!


“I am embarrassed to be a citizen of the Russian Federation”

Yevgeniy Kiseliov

Former director of television broadcasting company NTV Yevgeniy Kiseliov talks about Maidan, the presidential elections in Ukraine, and the Kremlin’s TV propaganda

by Dmitriy Volchek

The Russian state TV channels present the Ukrainian revolution as a criminal coup and the Maidan protesters as Nazis. They claim the new government is illegal and talk endlessly about the suffering of the Russian-speaking population, as if it’s languishing under a fifth column of ‘Banderites.’

One can figure out how this propaganda works from the recently published guidelines for journalists. These so-called ‘gag orders’ instruct the mass media to talk about the ‘rule of crime’ in Ukraine, ‘growing squabbles over power’ and the ‘criminality disguised as Maidan.’ And then the journalists are encouraged to promote vacations in Crimea.

Prominent Russian journalist and political analyst Yevgeniy Kiseliov, former director of the television broadcasting company NTV, former chief editor of Moskovskiye Novosti, and who currently works in Kyiv, compares the methods of the Russian television propagandists with the work of Josef Goebbels’s agents.

Was it prudent to make the decision to cut off Russian TV broadcasts in Ukraine, or to list one of the most odious journalists, Dmitriy Kiseliov, among the officials to whom international sanctions apply? Yevgeniy Kiseliov replied to these questions in the radio broadcast Itogi Nedeli (Weekly Review) on Radio Svoboda.

Yevgeniy Alekseyevich, let’s assume there is some very inquisitive person who lives in Russia and knows about what has happened in Kyiv exclusively from the broadcasts of the Russian TV channels. And that person asks you to explain the essence of the Ukrainian revolution. What would you tell him?

 I’m afraid one would find it extremely difficult to speak with someone who had watched only Russian television, because this person, if he believes what he is told, needs to be approached as a mental patient. And that’s because everything that was shown by the Russian state TV channels—that was all propagandistic insanity. Unfortunately, judging by the ratings of support for Putin’s policy, this propaganda, alas, had its intended effect. Nevertheless, I would try to convince my interlocutor to forget everything ever said by the man whom I most commonly call ‘no relation,’ and by other Russian propagandists. I would tell him how the Ukrainian people’s patience snapped, and that the country had a revolution which overthrew the corrupt regime. Yanukovych was the sitting president, surrounded by his ‘family’ in the old-fashioned Russian meaning, a Politburo composed of people connected by friendship and business ties to the president’s eldest son—an extremely lucky guy, especially in the final year of his father’s rule—businessman Oleksandr Yanukovych. And it was this ‘crony capitalism’ and the incredible corruption that caused an explosion of popular anger that led to the overthrow of the regime. The majority of those who participated in this revolution, most of the hundreds of thousands of peaceful citizens who came out to protest on the central streets and squares of Kyiv, were ordinary, perfectly normal, and sometimes unbelievably far removed from any political activities—Kyivites who are just like you and me, the middle class.

We started our conversation with the Russian propagandists, primarily those on television, who have created some fantastic image that has nothing to do with reality. Do you approve of the idea of cutting off Russian TV channels broadcasting in Ukraine?

My attitude toward this is complicated. The Russian channels broadcast not only news, although it can hardly be called news now, and not only informational programs, which have turned into propaganda; sometimes they show really good non-political programs, TV series, and documentaries. My friends and colleagues appear on the screen and they have done nothing to the Ukrainian people. That’s why my attitude toward this is complicated. On the other hand, it is of course impossible to imagine that during the Second World War the newspaper Voelkischer Beobachter would be released in Great Britain or the United States, translated into English. Turning to the issue of Russia Today. I wonder what the authorities would do in those English-speaking countries which get Russia Today, because Russia Today, pardon me, is to a great extent a modern version of Voelkischer Beobachter.

Presently, there is a debate about whether international sanctions should apply to journalists, particularly to ‘no relation’ Dmitriy Kiseliov.

The principles of respect for freedom of expression and freedom of opinion and freedom of the press accepted throughout the civilized world do not apply to men like Dmitriy Kiseliov. Goebbels wouldn’t be protected by these laws. The history of journalism knows cases where journalists became not just propagandists, but messengers of the most reactionary, the most hateful, the most unacceptable ideas in a civilized society. Freedom of speech and expression are out of the question there. Although I understand that some people, say in the United States, who interpret the First Amendment to the US Constitution rather broadly, would disagree with me, but I’m ready to discuss it with them.

Another interesting aspect of this history is that the forecasts of media experts, who anticipated television and especially major TV channels to be lost and replaced by internet, never came true. People who gave up television 10 or 15 years ago, or watch it only rarely if ever, have found that for the majority of people the federal TV channels are the main source of information, and, more importantly, that they do not reject the TV propaganda. Did you find it surprising, too?

Yes I did, to a certain extent. I believe we exaggerate the influence of modern online mass media on public awareness. We did not realize that most internet users, even though they may occasionally check out some informational sites, still mostly use internet for entertainment, shopping, and some light everyday communication on social networks. From my point of view, in the past few years, Russia has developed a surprisingly passive and indifferent silent majority which could not care less about the future of the country and under certain circumstances would just shrug their shoulders and say: we knew nothing of it, no one ever told us anything, we had no idea that we had such a regime in power. That is, if they were ever to be held accountable, like the German people were, to the world for the things that could happen with Russia.

A lot of people now fear that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine. Military forces are gathered at the border, there is information that an invasion is being prepared. What is your feeling, is it going to happen? 

Sadly, this may happen. I really do not want to be the bad prophet, but I absolutely do not rule it out. Intelligence reports clearly suggest a future invasion. Personally, I am deeply concerned about the deployment of field hospitals, about the introduction of special vehicles with high-powered loudspeakers, field radio stations to be used to transmit messages to the surrounded or retreating enemy, or, conversely, to an enemy which has strengthened its defensive and is unwilling to throw itself on the mercy of the victor.

Yevgeniy Kiseliov calls Dmitriy Kiseliov 'no relation'

Yevgeniy Kiseliov calls Dmitriy Kiseliov ‘no relation’

I find alarming the persistent promises of the Russian officials saying we are not going to cross the border, we are not preparing any military invasion. It’s all very reminiscent of what was said on the eve of the annexation of Crimea, that we are not going to take any military action in Crimea, we are not going to annex Crimea, we are not going to incorporate the Crimean peninsula into the Russian Federation. As we know, all these grand promises did not correspond with reality.

Despite this threat, Ukraine is preparing for the presidential elections. According to data from surveys, there is a leader. Why are  millions ready to vote for Petro Poroshenko, and can we say that the election results, if of course no Russian invasion takes place, are a foregone conclusion, and that Poroshenko will become President? 

I would be careful with such categorical forecasts, because the most unexpected turns of political events occur in Ukraine. I remember, for example, that in 1994 Leonid Kravchuk initiated early presidential elections in an attempt to gain an extra vote of confidence from the electorate and ultimately lost, which no one anticipated. Everybody believed the then-president to be sufficiently popular and strong and capable of winning the elections, but he lost in the second round to his main competitor Leonid Kuchma. Similarly, in 2004, at some point opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko was the undisputed leader and was showing such a wide margin in all ratings that no one believed Yanukovych would be able to catch up so well that he was declared the winner at first. How things will work out now? There have been a lot of surprises. Vitaliy Klitschko decided not to participate in the presidential elections and encouraged his supporters to vote for Poroshenko. This should enhance Poroshenko’s standing accordingly. The most recent published survey gives him 25% of votes in the first round, while Vitaliy Klitschko got 9% in that survey. I don’t really know whether we could simply put those figures together, because not all of Klitschko’s supporters would vote for Petro Poroshenko, but I believe the majority would. What Yulia Tymoshenko,  who is apparently becoming Poroshenko’s main competitor, would have to say about that still remains to be seen. Because those who were following closely and who have seen, for example, how she was received by Maidan on the day she was released from prison, believe she is going to have a hard time. The people in the square that gathered on that day to celebrate the victory over the overthrown regime did not meet Yulia Volodymyrivna with thousands of voices yelling in unison “Yulia, Yulia, Yulia!” People applauded and said how glad they were that Yulia Volodymyrivna was finally out of prison, where she was of course held as a political prisoner, but many people added that she should not return to politics. A lot of people in Ukraine do not support Yulia Tymoshenko in her aspirations to return to power and become president. I believe that if she does not win the elections, we will see the next level of political struggle—to win as many votes in the parliamentary elections as possible. Because under the current constitution (I have to remind you that Ukraine reinstated its constitution as amended in 2004), the prime minister has enough power and in many respects is independent from the president. Currently, the Prime Minister is Arseniy Yatsenyuk, but what is going to happen after the parliamentary elections, who is going to win, which party is going to win the most votes, which coalition is going to emerge? The Constitution of 2004 establishes the concept of the ruling coalition, which has the power to form the government. In other words, it is a parliamentary-presidential republic, where the prime minister is an independent and very powerful figure. Of course, I guess it would be good for the country’s future if Poroshenko wins the presidential elections. It would also be good if his party wins, or some alliance of those parties that will support the president in order not to repeat the situation we saw in Ukraine for many years, when Yushchenko was the president and Tymoshenko the prime pinister and all political life of the country was focused on their implacable enmity, the slow and occasionally escalating conflict between the president and the prime minister.

The Congress of the Party of Regions, which was the governing party until recently, was held on Saturday. Will it be able to recover from the blow and take revenge, or is this impossible? 

I do not believe any of the present leaders of the Party of Regions or candidates that could be supported by the Party of Regions could actually hope to win the presidential elections. However, I would not write them off completely, in the sense that it often matters who comes in third and who comes in fourth. Because those who come third or fourth in the presidential race often siphon votes from the leaders. The next important consideration with those who come third, fourth, or fifth is whom they are going to support in the second round and whom their electorate will vote for.

Regarding the Party of Regions itself, it is now being decided what it’s going to be like. Apparently, there are two possible ways it can go. The first one is to attempt to go through a process of reform, rebranding, and renewal to transform the party into something more modern and attractive to the citizens from southeast of the country, who also want innovation and who reject the practices that caused the previous regime to collapse. Yet there are forces that cling stubbornly to the past.  I’m sorry to say that I have a feeling that the Party of Regions may turn into a party of die-hard reversionists who will not renounce their principles and who will eventually cause certain marginalization. It would become a party of fringe politicians clinging desperately to the legacy of Yanukovych’s regime. If such a scenario occurs, the Party of Regions will split into two. The party will most likely lose some of its activists, particularly the current parliament members, the prominent politicians who will probably make a new party, a party of democratic reforms. It will be like when the CPSU [the Communist Party of the Soviet Union—Ed.] had two wings, do you remember? There was Ligachov’s steadfast wing and the Democratic Platform that united those who supported Gorbachov, Shevardnadze, and Yakovliev, and who finally had to leave the CPSU.

We are now speaking of conservative and reversionist politicians, but there are also direct supporters of Moscow who appear constantly on the Russian TV channels, appoint the so called ‘national governors,’ and sponsor fights in the squares of southern and eastern regions of Ukraine. How strong are they and how many of them are there?

Multi-millionaire Petro Poroshenko, the most popular candidate for President of Ukraine

Multi-millionaire Petro Poroshenko, the most popular candidate for President of Ukraine

I would not exaggerate their strength and numbers. Of course, 5% of Ukrainian citizens living in the east and southeast do support them. These are namely the representatives of poorer social groups who were unable to integrate into the new life in 20 years of post-Soviet independent Ukraine; who failed to adapt to the new reality, to fit into the market, so to speak; however ugly it is, it’s there, people who get nostalgic for the Soviet Union, people who often aggressively deny those elements of the new life that the state of independence has brought, including a wider use of the Ukrainian language, and who of course dream of returning to the Kremlin’s jurisdiction. I estimate it’s 5 to 7% of the population of Ukraine and these people are mainly localized in Luhansk, Donetsk, and, partly, in Kharkiv Oblast.

There were reports last autumn that you decided to become a Ukrainian citizen. Later on it turned out that you were misunderstood. Now, after the revolution, would you reconsider that?

I never stopped thinking about applying to the Ukrainian state for Ukrainian citizenship. I have lived here for many years now and feel like this country has become my second homeland, so I would like to become a part of this country. I do not want to be a part of the country that commits aggression against Ukraine. I am embarrassed to be a citizen of the Russian Federation. In that particular interview that you are referring to, I just expressed my opinion, that’s all. Some of my colleagues used to point out my Russian citizenship to me in a tricky, and not always in a civil, way, I think. And I always responded that while working in the Ukrainian mass media and doing political analysis of the situation in Ukraine, making speeches in various media (I went to the United States and England recently to deliver speeches to research organizations there, like the Carnegie Foundation and the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London), I expressed my view of what was going on in the country and always acted as a Ukrainian journalist or a Ukrainian political commentator. When someone said publicly for the umpteenth time, “You, as a Russian journalist . . .” I replied, “You know, colleagues, I really think I’ll apply for Ukrainian citizenship in the near future.” To be honest, the only thing that stopped me was that I did not want to receive Ukrainian citizenship from the hands of Viktor Yanukovych; I knew the true value of that man. I felt like waiting until the presidential elections in which, I hoped, someone else would become the president. Even before all the events of Maidan I believed that in the next presidential elections an opposition member would succeed. That’s when I was intending to apply with the request to the new president. I hope I will have the opportunity much sooner than I had expected.


Translated by Svitlana Skob, edited by Robin Rohrback





Putin’s propaganda. Is Russia returning to the 1930s?

Photo from Euromaidan Art & Graphics

Photo from Euromaidan Art & Graphics

By Robert van Voren

He was tense, and rightly so. A few days ago Lev Shlozberg, member of the council of the Pskov region, stood up and addressed a silent audience. They all listened in awe. He attacked the prevailing mood in Russia, comparing the attacks on “people’s traitors” and the mass patriotic hysteria with the atmosphere in the 1930s under Stalin. And if that was not enough, he continued to expose the corruption in the governor’s office, the deal and tricks that allowed the ruling class to enrich itself and keep the rest of the population in poverty. “These are the real people’s traitors,” he said, “these are the people that ruin our country.”

Continue reading

Russian journalists attacked by spetsnaz and robbed of equipment

This is why real news of what is happening in Crimea is hard to come by–only approved Russian journalists have been allowed to work, while all others are terrorized. Journalist Alexander Aksakov’s March 23, 2014 post:


I’m all right. Here are the facts:
Today I was with my uncle, whom everyone knows. We went to photograph the assault on Belbek [Ukrainian Air Base in Crimea, near Sevastopol]. At first, everything was peaceful, for about 2 hours we photographed the Ukrainian soldiers. Poor guys, with sticks, with tree branches, with only 10 or 12 machine guns and with a “limited amount of ammunition.”
In the picture: soldiers with sticks guarding an anti-aircraft gun at the base headquarters.

Continue reading

Belarusian journalist on the sadists who seized Crimea

Dmitriy Galko met Ukrainians who were kidnapped in Crimea.  He spoke about their meeting in his blog:

From the very beginning, I did not like someone’s light hand in bringing into use the phrase “polite people” when referring to the invaders of Crimea.  I think it could be a part of the informational war, which works to voice Putin’s assertion that there can be no intervention if no shot has been fired and that, therefore, there was no intervention in Crimean, but rather something like an operation to restore

One who is familiar with the history may recall such interventions, for example, when Hitler took Sudetenland. However, I do want to talk not about the historical analogies but the false image of the “polite” occupier.  It took me one meeting in a Kherson hospital with guys who were kept captive in Crimea for nearly two weeks for that image to crumble into dust. Their names are Andrij Schekun and Yuri Shevchenko. The only thing that unites them is the Crimean captivity hell that they experienced. Before, they did not know each other.

Continue reading

PUTIN the Compulsive Boldface LIAR

PUTIN the Compulsive Boldface LIAR. 10 lies Putin uses to justify the occupation of Ukraine. Compiled by Walter Derzko, Toronto


1.0 PUTIN’S LIES: Russians are under threat in Ukraine
1.0 REALITY: There is no proof whatsoever that ethnic Russians are threatened or were killed in the Crimea or in South-Eastern Ukraine

2.0 PUTIN’S LIES: Ukraine is governed by Nazis, Fascists and Anti-Semites
2.0 REALITY: Prominent Ukrainian Jews and the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine rebuffed all of Putin’s anti-Semitism claims Continue reading

Wage a media-war in Russian!

1380293_518544324929902_507880401_nBy Robert van Voren

Since the crisis in Ukraine took the shape of a fundamental conflict between a growing part of the Ukrainian people and a government of “crooks and swindlers” that, as it later turned out, managed to rob the nation of an approximate 70 billion euro, Russian friends have asked me with increasing urgency for independent media sources to help them follow the events. Initially, when it was not yet clear in what way the standoff would end and the atmosphere at Maidan was still quite joyful, the requests were mainly the result of curiosity, rather than a urgent need to know what was actually happening on the ground. Russian media downplayed the size of the demonstrations, referring to “several thousand” of them, while in fact some 800,000 demonstrators filled Independence Square and all the surrounding streets and alleys. It resulted in jokes in the social media, e.g. a photo of the massive demonstrations with the text: “Special for Russian TV: we are not here.”  Continue reading

Handcuffed and with a sack over the head: just another day in Bakhchisarai

Blog post by Levko Stek, Radio Svoboda journalist

Representative of the so-called self-defense in Crimea.

Representative of the so-called self-defense in Crimea.

It is almost summertime in Bakhchisarai. A bright sunny day, around 16:00. At the bus station, yet another minibus to Simferopol is preparing to depart. There are approximately 20 passengers in the cabin. I am finishing my Snickers chocolate bar while editing, in my mind, the news story about Ukrainian soldiers who refused to ‘surrender’ to officers of the Russian Black Sea fleet in exchange for money and guarantees for a prosperous future. The journey has passed without any conflicts. A man in a black jacket, who constantly keeps talking on his phone, occasionally catches my attention. It is not surprising that you start noticing these small things when reports of kidnapped and beaten journalists keep flooding in. Fortunately, in my case, it hasn’t happened.

Three people enter the cabin. They look tense; perhaps they are from a local ‘self-defense’ group? The thought of a possible document check has spoiled the taste of the chocolate. However, I wasn’t asked to show my journalist pass, nor my passport. Continue reading

Discussion about ‘Svoboda’ members beating up National TV Director drowning out real atrocities


While discussion is raised around the recent resignation that ‘Svoboda’ members forced out of acting director of the Ukrainian National Television Company, Oleksandr Panteleymonov, on March 18, concerns were being raised that real atrocities will be overlooked in all the hubbub. Nadiya Palyvoda wrote in Facebook:

“Tell me quickly: what is the name of that man, ‘Svoboda’s’ press-secretary, that was killed a few days ago in Donetsk? Nobody remembers? Where are the mournful reposts, the poems? What about the last names of those two soldiers that were shot dead in Simferopol?” Continue reading

A Hromadske TV journalist explains why ‘Svoboda’ beat up Panteleymonov at NTCU

saychuk.jpgAndriy Savchuk, a journalist at Hromadske TV, an independent crowdfunded media source, explained why ‘Svoboda’ members forced a resignation out of acting director of the Ukrainian National Television Company Panteleymonov on March 18, on FB:

“In short, Panteleymonov got beat up because of me. It turned out to be an anecdotal story after we looked into it. So, the whole truth about yesterday’s incident at NTCU, that Miroshnichenko and Co. were watching First National Channel, which in turn was broadcasting Hromadske TV; the releasing editor of which yesterday was yours truly. At the end of production we had a slight mishap: our guest (Oleh Rybachuk) got stuck in a traffic jam and was late. To make up time I asked to turn on the concert broadcast from Red Square in ‘dear old Moscow’ — and we broadcasted this hogwash for 5 minutes — then the ironic comment of Anya Babynets came in and we continued with our telecast. But Svoboda seems to have turned on the TV in just these 5 minutes, just in time to see Valeriya [Russian pop singer] wailing some sort of ‘imperialistic ode’ next to Lenin’s mausoleum and the logo of First National Channel at the top of the screen. Naturally, they freaked out – and the people’s avengers flew at NTCU to deal with Panteleymonov. So that’s the story. Not that it justifies those ‘Svoboda’ members, but at least it shows some logic in this macabre adventure”. Continue reading