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National information policy in the face of russian aggression regional aspect

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National information policy in the face of russian aggression regional aspect

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National information policy in the face of russian aggression regional aspect

  1. 1. 1 National information policy in the face of Russian aggression: regional aspect Analytical note on the results of the third wave of the nationwide survey The materials prepared by the “Kalmius Group” members, consisting of Oleksandr Dmitriiev, Mariia Zolkina, Oleksandr Kliuzhev, Oleksiy Matsuka and Vitaliy Syzov Kyiv, September 2018
  2. 2. 2 Introduction The information policy of Ukraine in Donetsk and Lu- hansk regions, including in uncontrolled territories, is formed on the basis of various legislative and oth- er acts; among them, in particular, is the Doctrine of Information Security of Ukraine and the Strategy of Information Reintegration of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions. An important reason for the occurrence and approval of the above-mentioned documents was the Russian encroachment into Ukraine in 2014. Russian-con- trolled media have proven to be a significant tool for influencing Ukraine’s domestic political situation. One of the methods used by Russian mass media during the preparation of information materials is the demonstration of contradictions that exist in Ukraini- an society. These contradictions have deep econom- ic, historical, cultural and other roots, and we could dedicate considerable time to their analysis, but the purpose of this document is to provide advice on how to consolidate the unity of society with the help of state instruments, taking into account the present situation and the current state of public opinion, not only in Donbas, but also throughout Ukraine, that is critically important in the face of foreign military ag- gression and the information pressure that Ukraine experiences on the part of the Russian Federation. Citizens of Ukraine have already demonstrated a high degree of unity at the beginning of the conflict, but in the course of time the minor issues as com- pared to the main one — to be or not to be an inde- pendent democratic state in Ukraine — become a source of tension in society and are used by Russian propaganda as “evidence of the absence of Ukrainian state system”. The degree of Ukrainian citizens’ trust in Ukrainian and Russian media The second stage of an all-Ukrainian sociologi- cal survey commissioned by the “Kalmius Group” on May 3–19, 2018 conducted by GfK Ukraine showed that in the territory of Ukraine, regard- less of the region, less than 1% of the respond- ents consider Russian television to be the most neutral source of information on the events in an uncontrolled territory. On the other hand, Ukrainian television is consid- ered to be the most objective source of informa- tion about the uncontrolled territory by 31,1% of the citizens. However, on the government-con- trolled part of Donbas, this ratio is twice less — almost 17%. At the same time, the national average trust in Russian television is less than 1% here. The all-Ukrainian sociological survey conducted by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology for “Detector Media” organizationonFebruary5-21,2018showedthatonlya quarteroftherespondents(27%)believethatUkrainian TV channels provide objective information about events in Ukraine and about the relations between Ukraine, Russia and Russia-controlled “Donetsk People’s Re- public” and “Luhansk People’s Republic”. The ratio of peoplewhobelievethattheinformationoftheUkrainian media is not true is a good deal more (43%). The share of those who believe in the objectivity of Ukrainian TV channels’ information is decreasing1 . Thus, the low level of credibility of Russian television among Ukrainian citizens, including in the govern- ment-controlled territory, is not converted into their trust in Ukrainian television. 1 Counteraction to Russian propaganda and media literacy: the results of the all-Ukrainian public opinion poll // https://detector.media/infospace/article/136017/2018-03-27-protidiya-rosiiskii- propagandi-ta-mediagramotnist-rezultati-vseukrainskogo-opituvannya-gromadskoi-dumki/
  3. 3. 3 “Pro-Russian sentiments”, the USSR nostalgia and other factors of the influence of Russian propaganda According to the results of the third stage of the “Kalmius Group” study, almost 18,7% of respond- ents throughout Ukraine when asked about the views and beliefs of the people who support Russia’s pol- icy towards Ukraine answered that they share the views and convictions of these people themselves (8.7% of them absolutely agree and 9.9% rather agree). These average figures are almost the same in differ- ent regions of the country. For example, in the West, there are 19% of such citizens (11.8% of them ab- solutely agree and 7.3% rather agree), while in gov- ernment-controlled areas of Donbas, almost 24,4% (8.6% of them absolutely agree and 15.8% rather agree). There are interesting figures about the level of nos- talgia for the Soviet past, which is often used by the Russian Federation, positioning itself as the Soviet Union successor. 43% of the overall respondents and 51% of the residents of the government-con- trolled areas of Donbas believe that their life or the lives of their families was better in the USSR times, however those who disagree are 41,6% and 31%, respectively. Strong nostalgia for the Soviet period is typical for all regions, except for the West — but it is also noticeable there. Here the life in the past seems better for almost 30,9%, and almost 54% do not agree to this point of view. A quarter of the Ukrainian population (25,3%) and a third of government-controlled Donbas population (36,4%) would like the USSR to revive and Ukraine to be a part of it, but even more — 68,1% and 54,1% respectively, would not like this to happen. It should be recalled that despite such a high level of “pro-Russian sentiments” and nostalgia for the Soviet past, the degree of trust in the Russian media that can use these levers of influence remains ex- tremely low. At the same time, half of the polled citizens in gener- al (49%) and 37,1% of Donbas residents absolute- ly or rather support decommunization in Ukraine, while a third of Ukrainians (34,5%) and about half of Donbas population (45,9%) do not support it. The most common reasons for the failure to support decommunization are respect for the Soviet past and the belief that there are more pressing problems now than decommunization. Thus, in spite of the high degree of nostalgia, the ab- solute majority of the citizens do not support the re- vival of the USSR. The Soviet past remains a strong potential lever of influence on the consciousness of modern Ukraine citizens even after 27 years of in- dependence. At the same time, the official Ukraini- an authorities refuse to be aware of the conditional post-Soviet reflection and deliberately give the con- trol of this process into hands of the Russian author- ities, which, if we take into account Russia’s being the successor of that state, independently forms the discourse on the past, systematically using it in its own anti-state propaganda against Ukraine.
  4. 4. 4 Regional differences in relation to historical memory as part of the Russian disinformation campaign Given the results obtained on the second stage of “Kalmius Group” study, more than a third of the Ukrainian citizens polled are experiencing significant differences between different regions, in particular, in economic development (44%), traditions and cul- ture (39,8%) and the political climate (38,1%). Another 38,2% mentioned minor differences be- tween the regions in the field of economic develop- ment, 46,6% see them in traditions and culture and 34,3% — in the political climate. According to the respondents, the West is most distinguished among the other regions (this is the opinion of 48% of respondents), as well as the East (28,8%). The residents of government-controlled part of Donbas noted the difference between Donbas and other regions twice as often as overall Ukrainian population (19,1% vs. 10,3%, respectively). Two thirds of the population (64,9%) did not feel that the attitude of people to them is determined by their native region. 15,2% of the population of Ukraine and 21,5% of Donbas residents faced with the fact that people’s attitude to them is getting worse when the people become aware which region the respond- ent is from. As for the events, personalities and countries that may influence Ukraine’s integrity, the poet Taras Shevchenko (mentioned by 83,6% of the re- spondents ) and famous sportsmen such as Andrii Shevchenko, Oleksandr Usik, Yana Klochkova and others (73,6%) are considered capable of positive- ly influencing the integrity. The rating is similar for Donbas: 81,5% of Donbas residents have mentioned Taras Shevchenko, 69,9% — famous sportsmen. Zaporizhzhia Cossacks, popular performers or pop bands as well as Bohdan Khmelnytskyi appeared in 60–65,9% of the overall population’s responses and 53,3–62,9% of Donbas residents’ answers. The majority of the population as a whole refers to Russia (68,6%), about half of it — to Joseph Stalin (44%), and to the abolition of the law on region- al languages ​​(42%), as the events, individuals and countries that can separate Ukraine. Donbas residents think something different: more than half of them are sure that Ukraine is most di- vided by Euromaidan (57,3% think that it divides and 23.3% think that it unites Ukraine), the United States and Stepan Bandera (54,9% for each), the Ukraini- an Insurgent Army (51%) and Russia (48,7%). The opinion that Euromaidan has divided the country prevails in general in the East (36.4% think that it unites Ukraine vs. 44.5% who think that it divides the country) and the South (36.7% — “unites” vs. 49.4% — “divides”). The leader of the OUN, Stepan Bandera, cause controversy among the respondents of all macro-regions except the West. Ukraine’s information policy should take into ac- count these indicators and local peculiarities and be implemented especially sensitively and gently. In general, the citizens in Donbas would like to know more about historical events in the region. The life of Zaporizhzhia Cossacks in Donbas and the Resistance Movement in Donbas during the Second World War cause The greatest interest (the answers are “very/rather interesting” — 76,8% and 75,9% respectively). A bit less popular topics are: Donbas during the pe- riod of the Ukrainian cultural revival of the 1920s and Donbas industrialization in the 1920–30s (71,4%, 71,3% respectively) and Holodomor in Donbas in 1932–1933 (69%). The least interesting for Donbas residents is the dissi- dent movement in Donbas — the topic was the option of half the people (50%). This may be because the topic it is the least known and understandable, since the ques- tion of whether such a topic would be interesting of all thosetopicsthatmightbeinterestingtotherespondents, receivedthelargestratioof“undecided”options. According to a study by the Hybrid Warfare Analyti- cal Group2 , one third of all the news on top Russian TV channels is devoted to Ukraine. More than 90% of references to Ukraine are negative. The main ob- jects of Russian media attention are Ukrainian state institutions, which, according to the Russian media, represent a radical minority of the state. 2 Thirty percent of the news on Russian TV is dedicated to Ukraine — UCMC research http://uacrisis.org/ru/66976-grupa-z-analizu-gibridnih-zagroz-ucmc
  5. 5. 5 The problems of internal communication Communication of Ukrainian state authorities with the citizens of the eastern regions of Ukraine could play one of the key roles in the process of minimizing the influence of Russian disinformation campaigns. According to monitoring the communication of state authorities on Donbas during the first half of 2018, conducted by “Detector Media”, the Cabinet of Min- isters of Ukraine mostly referred to Donbas for the promotion of various achievements. To be precise, to interpret certain actions and events as achieve- ments3 . In many cases, communication is not built for the sake of Donbas, but around Donbas. According to the monitoring, the number of references to the issues of Donbas in their reports is the primacy in the pres- idential party “Solidarity”. However, the “Opposition block” outstripped it by the focus of the messages. The results of the recent parliamentary elections are in line with this trend — the “Opposition Bloc” has a much higher support in Donbas than a presidential party4 . At the last Donbas Media Forum, held in July 2018, a considerable part of the event was devoted to the issue of restoring Donbas’s confidence in Ukrainian media. Nataliia Likhachova, the director of “Detector Media” organization, said that journalistic standards can only keep the media from extremes and help to maintain the trust of different groups of citizens. The audience is tired of excessive politicization of the content. It’s worth mentioning that according to the researches of her organization, that if the content is qualitative, the language of content (either Russian or Ukrainian) does not affect its choice5 . The Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE Spe- cial Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Alexander Hug, who has access to an uncontrolled territory and can directly communicate with the citizens living there, believes that some media make “more of a hin- drance than a help” for their audience and readers polarizing society even deeper. They select and cover just the facts that are beneficial to their parties, thus creating vital lie. According to Hug, such media “con- tribute more to the problem, than to its solution”. The Donbas residents’ confidence can only be restored by facts, not their representations6 . 3 Communicative activity in clarifying the law on Donbas reintegration has decreased in Ukraine — “Detector Media” monitoring https://detector.media/infospace/article/139271/2018-07-12-v-ukraini- znizilas-komunikativna-aktivnist-iz-rozyasnennya-zakonu-pro-reintegratsiyu-donbasu-monitoring-detektora-media/ 4 Parties that, according to the voting results, gained 5% or more in the Ukraine region http://www.cvk.gov.ua/pls/vnd2014/wp315?PT001F01=910 5 Panel discussion “How to restore Donbas residents’ trust to the media?” https://youtu.be/vsehbi6g9jQ?t=5m55s 6 Panel discussion “How to restore Donbas residents’ trust to the media?” https://youtu.be/vsehbi6g9jQ?t=15m47s So, Russian television uses the differences and con- tradictions that exist in the Ukrainian society, and some of them were listed during the study of “Kalmi- us group”. Such processes as the formation of le- gitimate power, civil society and respect for human rights are accompanied in the Russian media by an exclusively negative connotation, which lies at the heart of Russian disinformation campaigns. As we have already noted, the problem is not a high degree of trust in Russian media or propa- ganda, the problem is that it partly reflects the existing fears and estimates of part of our society.
  6. 6. 6 Strategy of informational reintegration of Donetsk and Luhansk regions By order of July 26, 2018, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the Strategy of Informational Re- integration of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions7 . According to the document for the process of rein- tegration to be successful, “communication with cit- izens of Ukraine residing in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions should be based on the follow- ing arguments: Ukraine is a sustainable perspective state, which despite the complexity of the current situation, pro- vides a decent standard of living and security for its citizens, and also offers opportunities for the devel- opment; Ukraine is a fair state, in which not only the rule of law, but also the moral principle of justice prevails: the Ukrainian state takes into account and under- stands the circumstances, in which the residents of the uncontrolled territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions found themselves as a result of the conflict.” The ministry has limited capacity to implement these “arguments” in their entirety without interacting with other ministries and institutions. The “arguments” represented should have a real basis, without which any strategy will do any good to the degree of confi- dence in Ukrainian media and the state, but will fur- ther deteriorate it. According to a qualitative study on the peculiarities of horizontal communication between the residents of the government-controlled part of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the citizens residing in the uncontrolled territory, held by the Democratic Ini- tiatives Foundation in February 2018 (80 respond- ents in 8 settlements)8 , people are fully aware of the benefits of life in the government-controlled territories of Donbas. In particular, the residents of uncontrolled areas see the benefits in “peaceful life and well-being in the territories, which were liberated”. “However, the lack of compelling positive changes in comparison with 2014, the decline in personal well-being and the constant threat of the resumption of active hos- tilities undermine the citizens’ confidence in possible changes for the better in the foreseeable future,” the study says. In the researchers’ opinion, “low public confidence in state institutions is due to the lack of positive expe- rience as to respecting their basic rights ... respond- ents express their surprise and indignation at the inaction and indifference of the state and authorized bodies that slowly respond to specific requirements to improve certain services or living environment (pension payments, quality of social and transport infrastructure, simplification of the entry and exit re- gime on the checkpoints)”. This means, that for a person who is deprived of pension payments and who has problems crossing the entry-exit checkpoints it is very difficult to prove the point of an informational strategy that “Ukraine is a fair state, in which not only the rule of law, but also the moral principle of justice prevails: the Ukrainian state takes into account and understands the circumstances, in which the residents of the un- controlled territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions found themselves as a result of the conflict”9 . It is also difficult to prove it to the residents of the liberated area, who are aware of the problems faced by the citizens crossing the demarcation line. The re- searchers assume that “in such a situation, people’s lack of acceptance of the authorities’ symbolic steps, such as ukrainization and decommunisation policy, is intensifying”. 7 On the approval of the Strategy of informational reintegration of Donetsk and Luhansk regions https://www.kmu.gov.ua/ua/npas/pro-shvalennya-strategiyi-informacijnoyi-reintegraciyi-doneckoyi- ta-luganskoyi-oblastej 8 How the temporarily uncontrolled territories of Donbas live? Peculiarities of horizontal communication of the divided region residents //https://dif.org.ua/uploads/pdf/19679939795b4f51 df073308.46033529.pdf 9 Strategy of informational reintegration of Donbas https://mip.gov.ua/files/pdf/%D0%A1%D1%82%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%B3%D1%96%D1%8F%20%D0%94%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%B 1%D0%B0%D1%81.pdf
  7. 7. 7 Unavoidable steps: 1. Auditing the content produced at the expense of the national budget for compliance with the rules of conflict-sensitive journalism and the principles of non-use of hate speech through the introduction of national monitoring. 2. Abandoning excessive politicization of the content (not words but deeds propaganda), produced by all media market actors through holding industry events for media workers and implementation of the principles of journalists’ self-regulation. 3. Taking into account local and regional peculiarities and traditions when developing of both media content and public officials’ rhetoric. 4. Building of state-citizen communications according to the available opinion surveys data considering the public opinion, and not “a party expediency”. 5. Building a media “message” on the national unity based on social services, civic activism and good governance, as the main principles of democracy. What should we do? Despite such rather controversial indicators, there are still prerequisites for strengthening national integrity and noticeable trends denoting this process. The study of the Social Cohesion and Reconciliation (SCORE) Index conducted in 2016 and 2018 shows that over 2 years, there are actually no polarized pro-Russian position among the citizens of Ukraine. In 2016, there were 15% of the people with such po- sition, while the number of “tolerant reformers” in- creased significantly from 15% to 31% (those who support changes and reforms in Ukraine and share such values as social cohesion and diversity). The number of “outsiders” has increased signifi- cantly: from 35% to 45% (those who take ever less part in the social and political life and are economi- cally unsecured. Many of them have earlier strongly supported Russia). At the same time, the number of “polarized Eu- rope-orientated” still remains at the 15% level (those who strongly support the European future, but does not share all the democratic values, such as pluralism, for instance. It is highly nationalistic group and is more prone to political violence). The support of “pluralistic Ukrainian identity” has increased with- in 2 years, especially in the East and South. The researchers believe that for different groups of citizens in the country there is “a possibility of unit- ing around a national idea based on social services, civic activism and good governance, as are the main Western values.” Now the Ministry of Information Policy has six months to submit to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine a plan of measures for the implementation of the strategy already approved. It is important that this plan considers the peculiarities of public opin- ion in every region of the country, is based on real achievements and will not become a tool of influ- ence for solving political problems in the run-up to the elections.
  8. 8. 8 “Kalmius Group” is an informal association of Ukrainian analysts whose goal is to promote the restoration of the country’s sovereignty in the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Motivation of our Group’s activities is clear and transparent — to contribute eff ectively and professionally to the restoration of the territorial integrity of the country. The name of the coalition comes from the Kalmius River, which unites the free and temporarily occupied districts of the region and symbolizes the hope of citizens on both sides of the demarcation line to peace-making by stopping the interstate confl ict and restoring the unity of Ukraine, the rule of law and order in the territories aff ected by the armed confrontation. More: www.kalmiusgroup.org This study was presented by the “Kalmius Group” initiative under “Ukraine Confi dence Building Initiative” (UCBI ІІ) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The study was made possible thanks to the generous support of the American people through USAID. The product content is the sole responsibility of the “Kalmius Group” and does not necessarily refl ect the views of USAID or the US Government. Third wave of the survey of the “Kalmius group” The survey was conducted by GfK Ukraine. Survey method is telephone interviews with calls to phones. Survey period: from June 04 to June 20, 2018. 1966 respondents, 540 of them from Donetsk and Luhansk regions (territories controlled by the Ukrainian government). Weighted data for the total population (real sample of 1966 respondents) corresponds to the population distribution by age/gender/settlement type and macro region according to State Statistics Service of Ukraine data as of January 1, 2017; weighted data for the population of Donetska and Luhanska oblast corresponds with the oblasts’ population distribution by age/ gender/settlement type. The data in the tables is given as weighted, and the total weighted sample of 1,500 respondents is displayed for convenience. The survey was conducted in all regions of Ukraine, except for the uncontrolled part of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. The sampling error for the whole of Ukraine does not exceed 2.5%, for Donetsk and Luhansk regions — does not exceed 4.9%.