‘Check what you hear, doubt what you see’ became the headline for news stories expanding on an impassioned video that went viral in the closing days of January.

Students from various universities in Kyiv were calling upon their Russian equivalents to help bring about the ‘information war’, described as ‘rampant Kremlin propaganda’.

Student Yevheniy Melnik, the video’s narrator, argued that Ukrainians are tired of being portrayed by the Russian media as ‘fascist child-crucifiers bent on victimizing Russian-speakers in Ukraine‘.

Melnik is referring to a report produced by Russian state-run television station Channel One, which has come under fire for fabricating an eyewitness account accusing the Ukrainian military of crucifying a three-year-old boy in a public square in Slavyansk.

The student-led video goes on to address other ‘Russian-fuelled myths’ that are likely to enhance friction between the two nations: explaining that the Maidan protests were not a US-led coup, as Russian-state media has claimed, and accuses pro-Russian separatists of holding those in Crimea ‘at gunpoint’.

Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Responds

Days after the Kyiv students’ video went viral, Russian university students based in the exclave of Kaliningrad gave out a response in a similar style video to their Ukrainian counterparts.

The students, all members of the pro-Kremlin youth group ‘Set’, gave their responses to the Kyiv video, with each statement closely following the Kremlin line.

Attacking the pro-European Maidan protests by styling them as a ‘coup’, the members defend the annexation of Crimea (now a part of the Russian Federation) and pinpoint to the amount of civilian deaths in eastern Ukraine.

‘We’ve heard you’ says the first student, ‘There is a civil war in your country. Ordinary citizens are dying – children, old people and women. You ask us to lift the information curtain. Let’s do it together so that no one has any doubt’.

The video progresses with each student commenting on specific events and combatants that have been discussed/ taken place in the country: from the fire at the Trade Union building in Odessa to claims of a strong neo-Nazi presence in Ukraine.

Even at youth level, it appears that an impasse is already set.

Both campaigns aim to challenge the levels of propaganda that both Ukraine and Russia have filtered out over the course of the nine-month conflict.

Outside observers who tune into the news to understand the latest events transpiring in the country’s eastern region question the level of crimes committed by both factions. There is little doubt that in the future, combatants from both sides will be tried and found guilty of war crimes.

Yet in the present, due to the policy of propaganda and counteroffensive moves through the medium of mass media, evidence to discredit either side is opaque.

When alleged Russian troop movements are reported, it is swiftly countered by rumoured Ukrainian forces launching counterattacks on civilian populations in separatist-held areas.

That wall of stubbornness is hard to break through. And even as youth groups from Ukraine and Russia appeal to call for an end to the propaganda being spread from their respective governments,  the conflict continues with no solid solution in sight.

 

References

http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-students-video-kremlin-propaganda/26817981.html

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/state-run-news-station-accused-of-making-up-child-crucifixion/503397.html

http://www.rferl.org/content/ukrainian-students-antipropaganda-video-russian-reply/26826540.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/28/doubt-everything-ukrainian-students-warning-to-russian-counterparts

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/29/andrei-kelin-russian-envoy-big-catastrophe-may-ens/