Total Pageviews

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ukrainian Activists Work to Counter Russian Narrative on Social Networks

Video of demonstrators in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk singing Ukraine’s national anthem on Sunday.

Faced with what they call misleading reports on Russian state television that ethnic-nationalist violence is sweeping Ukraine, Internet-savvy Ukrainian activists drew attention on Sunday to video and images posted online that showed street protests in support of the new government in Kiev, and acts of violence instigated by men waving the Russian flag.

Video uploaded to the Euromaidan protest movement’s YouTube channel showed demonstrators in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk singing Ukraine’s national anthem on Sunday, one day after the Russian flag was raised there by ethnic Russians.

The activists also shared photographs on Twitter of young men volunteering to defend Ukraine against the threatened Russian invasion in the same city, and a rally in support of the interim government in Zaporizhzhya and Odessa, where pro-Russia demonstrators had also gathered the day before.

Opponents of the threatened Russian invasion also drew attention to video said to have been recorded on Sunday in another eastern city, Donetsk, which showed a photographer being battered by a pro-Russia crowd â€" the very opposite, Ukrainian activists argued, of the situation portrayed by state-controlled channels in Russia.

Video said to have been recorded on Sunday in Donetsk.

In Kharkiv, an eastern city where the Russian flag was raised over a local government building the day before, video posted online late Saturday showed pro-Russia activists beating supporters of the protest movement in Kiev.

Video recorded Saturday in Kharkiv, showing supporters of the new Ukrainian government beaing beaten by pro-Russia activists.

Video posted on YouTube on Sunday from Crimea, meanwhile offered a brief glimpse of a tense standoff between a unit of Russian soldiers and the commander of a Ukrainian naval facility in the port city of Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based under a lease agreement with Ukraine.

According to the English subtitles added to the video by Ukrainian Internet activists, after the Russian request to hand over the base’s weapons was rejected, in frank terms, by the commander, the Russians withdrew without a fight.

A subtitled copy of video posted on YouTube Sunday, said to show a confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military officers in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol.

The Euromaidan video bloggers also released a YouTube appeal for unity from the mayor of the western city of Lviv to citizens of the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

A call for untiy from the mayor of Lviv in western Ukraine.

While the Ukrainian activists used Twitter and YouTube to make their case, there were reports over the weekend that Russian social networks, including the popular VKontakte platform, were blocking access to pages written by supporters of the Ukrainian protest movement known as Euromaidan.

Follow Robert Mackey on Twitter @robertmackey.