Experts ICCRP told about the “bullets” of information war

05.05.2020 Off By Polyanska
Experts ICCRP told about the “bullets” of information war

The director of International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda (ICCRP) Yuriy Kochevenko and the expert in sociology in the Center Dmytro Gromakov took part in “Vil’na tema” program on “Voice of Donbas” radio station. Establishment of ICCRP and its role in the resistance to information attacks of Kremlin and Russian disinformationwere the main topic of discussion. The conversation began from an urgent question: has Ukraine really lost the war or it was only the first battle?

 

Yuriy Kochevenko as director of ICCRP is convinced in that, till Ukrainian nation exists and Ukrainians, who see themselves as the part of it, are ready to protect the Ukrainian state – we have not lost the war, even though we have suffered significant losses.

 

“Although I adequately understand how complex the situation is, I am not apt to the total pessimism, as we were able to keep the state, we were able to stop the enemy. In circumstances, in which “information war would be lost”, the real war would be really lost and nothing would stop the enemy from going to Kyiv or even to Lviv, with the purpose of annexing us or establish a “marionette regime”, – and it would be the end, we would applaud and congratulate the Russian tanks in Kyiv, – that would be the real failure in information war. The fact, that we suffered strong strikes is real, and it is hard to hide the truth that before 2014 Ukrainian state had a poor understanding of informational aspect of national safety, what are the possible outcomes and how to react in such situations. Not mentioning the fact, that there were Russian representatives in Ukrainian elites, who acted in order to meet the Russian interests on their positions in the public space.

 

Yuriy Kochevenko emphasized that during the whole period of Ukrainian independence Russians felt free to act in our media and culture space. As a consequence – after the informational weapons, which Russia utilized, the territory of Ukraine was attacked by real missiles.

 

Expert-sociologist of ICCRP Dmytro Gromakov noted, that we cannot say about the loss of authentic Ukrainian spirit on the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea, till there is no relevant sociological data. He highlighted that a lot of internally displaced persons and those who are staying on the occupied territories are looking forward to getting back to Ukraine. Dmytro Gromakov named such sentiment to be anticipated as the chaos that is going on now on the uncontrolled territories do not satisfy anyone. The expert-sociologist in ICCRP once again refuted the message of Russian propaganda concerning the “language question” as the original source of war in the East of Ukraine. He said, that he speaks two languages and it never caused any problems. Concurrently, the expert noted that in terms of political technologies, the easiest way to consolidate the electorate was to do that around the language question in particular.

 

“That is why this question goes from one electoral campaign to another, it always bothered everyone. But there is a nuance – informational operation that has been held since 2002 election parliamentary campaign”, – Dmytro Gromakovstressed.

 

The director of  ICCRP Yuriy Kochevenko added that Russia’s information war against Ukraine is like an onion. There are not only fakes and propaganda TV-shows, it is only the first layer of it. Actually, everything starts from a lot more deep and strategic things. Specifically, that Russia has a right to qualify for the neighbourhood space and they try to justify it with the help of pseudo historical, cultural and linguistic reasons.

 

“When it is hard to integrate some basic thing in the social consciousness, these layers – they are like your armor: the bullet hit but came off – there is no effect. When you understand your self-identification, that you are a Ukrainian and that it is your state and that is a logical result of the whole social and historical development. It does not matter, which language do you speak, but you would never be bothered if someone tells about the “discrimination of  Russian-speaking people”. Dmytro is a bright example of it, – but when there is chaos in fundamental topics it is really easy to manipulate that chaos, and then fake news would be effective. One of the tasks of the state, which is also a task of our Center, is to enhance the capability of people to protect their mental space from such informational attacks by means of educational programs.” – Yuriy Kochevenko emphasized.

 

According to the Dmytriy Gromakov, a widespread opinion, that Ukraine allegedly lost the information war influences the fact that our country still does not have its own narrative. Likewise, the government does not have its own point of view concerning the nowadays situation. Any official or even president have not commented it as a conflict between two countries.

 

“So, we asses on the basis of political expediency or political correctness, but it does not reflect the reality. And the society is sensitive to this, as we understand that we are being lied to, or it is a game – they play with or against us. And the feeling of failure appears, as the narrative “to end the war” is not about the war. War cannot end by itself; it ends with failure or victory. And it is crucial to record our interests in this conflict and talk about them, but not just “end the war”. We will not end it, as we were not the ones who started it” – the expert-sociologist in ICCRP emphasized.

 

Yuriy Kochevenko added that the information part of the war cannot be separated from the war in general as it is waged on the diplomatic and economic fronts, in the fighting confrontation and on the informational front. But the enemy’s target is still the same – to destroy the Ukrainian state, to return Ukraine in the sphere of their geopolitical interests, to something they call “Russian world”.

 

Why was the International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda established?

The ICCRP was set up two months ago.

 

The experts of the ICCRP unite the fact that we, as servicemen or as volunteers, have stood up for Ukraine. Most of the founders, like me, are combatants. We are specialists in various fields: Dmitry Gromakov – a specialist in the field of sociology; there are experts in the field of information-psychological operations, information resistance, cyber security, psychology, communications. We are well aware of what causes the defeat in the information war – and that for that, as it may seem strange, we have to pay with real blood – because information balls, information shells, you will not see them with your eyes and what destruction they will cause as they will fall.  In fact, they destroy our consciousness and can cause more damage than a regular projectile, even 152 caliber – as strange as it may sound, believe me, ” – said the director of the ICCRP.

 

 

Yuriy Kochevenko noted that in Ukraine, during 5 years of war, many successful projects were created, including the successful information confrontation projects: “Informational Resistance”, “InformNapalm”, “StopFake”, “Texty.org”, “Voice of Donbass”, radio ” Crimea. Realities”, “HromadskeRadio”, and other. But now the enemy’s information counteraction is more like guerrilla warfare. Kochevenkostressed that one of the goals of the ICCRP is to unite all forces in one fist in order to be stronger and more effective together.

 

“We have never had an institution or project that would generally tell about current events on the information front, what operations they are doing, what they are threatening, who their initiators and executors are,” adds Dmitry Gromakov, an expert sociologist at the ICCRP. – Therefore, one of the tasks of ICCRP is to tell at least once a month what is happening in the information space, both in Ukraine and abroad. To take at least the story of this Wuhan aircraft – there are all the signs of an information operation.”

 

Regarding the ways of combating Russian propaganda, Yuri Kochevenko identified two: system-strategic and operational. To the system-strategic path, the director of the ICCRP refers to the state program for mastering the population of media literacy. According to Kochevenko, just as children are taught literature, history, mathematics, they also need to be taught what social networking algorithms work for, how to use them safely, and how to analyze the information they receive.

 

“I know that this is done at the state level, but so far locally, the enthusiasts, who include our Center. One of our media experts, Valentina Bykova, has developed a whole media literacy guide that we plan to publish. It is a long-term system work; it is not done in a day. So gradually, but inevitably, the ability of the population to defend against information influences should increase. That’s when it grows, it will be much more difficult for the enemy, though of course, it will find new ways”, – said the director of the ICCRP.

 

Yuri Kochevenko called the second way of protection against information influence an operative response to enemy special operations.

 

“It is necessary to reveal the whole process and what the enemy wants in the end. And when you reveal the secret of focus, it turns from magic to the usual trick of the fraudster. When you know what’s the secret, when you know you don’t have to look at your hands but under the table – and that’s where everything happens. Here it is the same. An example is the situation with the coronavirus, but it didn’t start yesterday. We were systematically, for two months, told the horrors about it, some unverified information was targeted. These are our media, without feeling at all in any danger – this is far from happening – they are very happy to be picked up because it is ratings, it is a clickability: the more terrible the title, the more likely they are to click on it and they will get more money for its publication. This operation has already begun. And then, when it comes to evacuation of our citizens, who, I emphasize, are not sick of the so-called coronavirus. People are just in this place, they are checked and checked, they just have to quarantine to remove all the risks. All countries have evacuated, including the aggressor country – although it has “driven” somewhere in Siberia, but all have evacuated their citizens quietly, and no questions have arisen, but it is in Ukraine (this is not because Ukrainians are wild or not tolerant) , in this particular case, it was the result of an information operation through the whole system of information discharges, which was partly played by some of our politicians and the means of our information”, – said Yuri Kochevenko.

 

Expert-sociologist of the ICCRP Dmitry Gromakov has added his opinion on this matter.

 

“In fact, this position must be immediately separated from ourselves. You do not need to evaluate yourself through the prism of that situation because it was artificially created. And to say that Ukrainians are just like that – is the exact result of this special operation. This is what the people who planned it and who are taking part in it now want to go – somewhere they walk, block roads, or panic about bringing our people. The purpose is to convince Ukrainians that they are wild, that they are divided, that the authorities cannot cope with the situation. It all fits into one narrative. So, I think the media themselves should start filtering and evaluating the information they give, what for and why they do it? Because the educational function cannot be excluded from the tasks of the media, it was and it is. Because for the sixth year of the war, including informational, but there were no courses or lectures to read our special services at universities, on media literacy, and on information operations. Although in the Baltic States, for three years the special staff has been reading at least one lecture on media literacy at all faculties of journalism. This is what Yuriy was talking about – when we show what is under the table, the focus becomes misleading. Here, too – you need to make clear what information transactions are, how they are conducted, and, depending on this, evaluate the information that comes to you. When you know that you want to be misled, that you are under attack (warned – therefore armed), you are already more critical of the information, look at the sources and think about the consequences”, – Dmitry Gromakov summarized.

 

At the end of the conversation, Yuri Kochevenko, director of the ICCRP, explained why it was necessary to create a structure that goes beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Conversation script: Julia Demidova International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda