Cambridge Conference on Global Information War: few notes and quotes

November 4, 2014 • Articles • Views: 1969

Prepared by Anna Morgan, Ukrainian Events in London

The Cambridge Ukrainian Studies in association with the Legatum Institute organised an impressive Conference on ‘Global Information War’ that took place on Friday, 31 October 2014.  Twenty speakers from UK, Ukraine, Russia and the US talked about how Ukraine is perceived in the world and in what ways Russian propaganda has rooted itself into many countries around the world, and what the measures of fighting it are. I had a personal interest in exploring where and why dangerous seeds of Russian propaganda were planted in Western democracies and how they have found fruitful soil in some developed  European countries.  I discovered several answers to these questions.

andrei portnovGermans have extremely limited knowledge about Ukraine, and see most of the news and developments through their understanding of Russia.

Andriy Portnov (Humboldt University)

Ukraine is seen through Russia. There are no Ukrainian studies or research projects in Germany.  Only a few institutions offer Ukrainian language courses. In the whole city of Berlin – there is only a single seminar once a week about Ukraine, while there are plenty of such about Russia and East European counties. Germans have an extremely limited knowledge about Ukraine. The main stereotypes:  lack of Ukrainian subjectivity in history, lack of acknowledgement that Germany occupied Ukraine twice (during 1918, and Second World War). Ukraine needs cultural and information policy to respond. If one compares the Russian approach – Russian studies are designed based on German stereotypes, to better reach out to Germans.

tatiana tsiganovaRussian propaganda is massively represented in France, supported by the part of French society that sympathises with Russia as an alternative to American domination. Strong anti-americanism plays in favour of pro-Russian forces.

Tetyana Ogarkova, Kyiv Mohyla Academy

France has not recognised the illegal annexation of Crimea, but has not to date sold the Mistrals to Russia; most of the news coverage is mostly pro-Ukrainian. Maidan was covered mostly correctly. Academic knowledge is pretty limited: there are only a few institutions that focus on Ukraine (for example: the French Association of Ukrainian studies, that published history books, translating Ukrainian writers, Ukrainian newspaper). 90% of Slavonic studies at Universities cover Russia. Very few experts on Ukraine are invited to speak on TV and publish articles in press and the weakness of pro-Ukrainian studies makes the role of Russian propaganda very simple.  Approximately 300,000 Russians live in France, they have their own media, TV and radio. One of the websites producing Russian propaganda has over 700 000 visitors. Rossiyskaya Gazeta publishes monthly summary in the popular French Newspaper La Figaro and ‘Russia Today’ has announced its launch of a french channel. 

There is a quarter of the Russian population who are aware that there is a war between Russia and Ukraine, and we need to reach out to them.

Tanya Zaharchenko, HSE St Petersburg

70% of Ukrainians say there is a war between Ukraine and Russina, and 74% in Russia say there isn’t. 58% Russians said yes to the question asked if they would like to have information and analysis of the situation that differs from official media, so a dialog is possible.

 

What I do, I’m doing for Russia. Because one day there will be a different Russia.

Victoria Ivleva-Yorke, Freelance photographer, Moscow

I have no connection to Ukraine, no Ukrainian blood, no Ukrainian family or friends, but over recent times my day starts with Ukraine and it ends with Ukraine… and it’s the deepest feeling of guilt.

From Maidan’s chaos, a nation was re-born.

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