Traditional journalism in eastern Ukraine, where Russia now claims sovereignty over Crimea and a rebel militia controls Lugansk and Donetsk, has become incredibly difficult. In the first six months of 2014, Ukraine was the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. There have been more fatalities recorded among reporters in Ukraine than in Syria or Iraq. Coupled with a concerted media war between Kyiv, the West, and Moscow, it has become progressively difficult to separate fact from fiction when reading about events in Ukraine.
Against this background, local bloggers and citizen journalists have become an important resource for discovering and verifying information in eastern Ukraine. Throughout this area, where Internet users are overwhelmingly Russian speaking, netizens have actively reported on things they have witnessed and issues that concern them.
Global Voices is proud to present “Eastern Ukraine Unfiltered,” a series of interviews conducted by Daniel Kennedy with eastern Ukraine’s most noteworthy bloggers, citizen journalists, and active social media users. The subjects of this project include Internet users of various political stripes. Kennedy speaks to individuals throughout eastern Ukraine, in an attempt to find out what motivates them, how they perceive their roles online, and how they view mainstream media coverage coming out of Moscow, Kyiv, and the West.
“Eastern Ukraine Unfiltered” offers a glimpse into an increasingly important and little examined section of Russian-language Internet. This page will be updated as RuNet Echo publishes new interviews in the series.
RuNet Echo's interviews with netizens in Eastern Ukraine
- The Mouthpiece of Totalitarian Propaganda — Crimea's Colonel Cassad
Sevastopol native Boris Rozhin has little love for Vladimir Putin. Despite this his blog has become massively popular among Putin's supporters. It has also earned him the ire of Ukraine's intelligence services.
- Camera Phones vs. Kalashnikovs in Ukraine's Separatist-held Luhansk
How “streamer” journalism both empowers and endangers civic reporters in eastern Ukraine.
- The Angriest Man in Odessa Is on the Front Lines of Ukraine's Information War
Odessa's vigorously anti-Moscow LiveJournal star, Zloy_Odessit, has his work cut out for him. Indeed, open dialogue with pro-Russian bloggers is still a long way off.
- There's a Woman in Crimea Showing the Men How Blogging Is Done
Political discussions on the Russian-speaking Internet tend to be dominated by male voices. Politichanka, however is an exception to this general trend.
- Crimea's One-Woman Resistance to Russian Occupation
Daria Karpenko says she is determined to stay in Crimea and report the realities of life on the ground, but she fears for her country and her family.
- Twitter Popularity Brings No Joy to Self-Dubbed “Shitty Slovyansk” Blogger
The information war and the real one have almost become synonymous for a Ukrainian Twitter blogger from Slovyansk, and he is sick of both.
- From Cats to Military Parades: Photoblogger in Sevastopol Reflects Crimea's Patriotic Euphoria
These days, Crimean photoblogger Natalya Golovan is more likely to document a military ceremony or a celebratory fireworks display than the cats she photographed before.
- Skeptical Crimean Blogger Now Writes “Only About Politics”
Previously filled with interesting or amusing content, with only occasional forays into the world of politics, now Sedelnikov's blog is entirely devoted to covering the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
- The Ukrainian Officer Tweeting from the Frontlines of the War in Donbas
Sergei Misyura, whose twitter account has over 15,000 followers, spent four months with the 72nd Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, fighting in the ‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’ (ATO) in Luhansk region.
- In Crimea, No Room for Blogger Liza Bogutskaya And Her Pro-Ukrainian Views
Liza Bogutskaya's outspokenness against what she sees as Russia's illegal occupation of Crimea has made her a favorite of pro-Ukrainians online and an enemy of the Russian state administering Crimea.
- Aleksandr Makarenko: Digital Quartermaster for Ukraine's Army
The Ukrainian army and pro-Kyiv forces, underfunded by the state, have relied heavily on support from ordinary Ukrainians like Aleksandr Makarenko, who has raised over $75,000 on social media.
- Lugansk News Today: One Man's SEO Battle with Russia Today
Lugansk News Today has been blogging about Eastern Ukraine in English since August, to inform people about events in his hometown, and to knock RT off the Google top results.
- Eastern Ukraine Unfiltered, By the Numbers
RuNet Echo has interviewed and profiled 12 bloggers, citizen journalists, and social media users in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Here's how that breaks down.
- A Look Back at ‘Eastern Ukraine Unfiltered’
With hindsight, the title of this interview series is a bit of a misnomer. The truth is, of course, that everyone has a filter.
What we do: Global Voices reporters cover how citizens use the Internet and social media to make their voices heard, often translating from and to different languages.