“Check what you hear; doubt what you see.”
Such is the advice proffered by Ukrainian students to their Russian contemporaries in a powerful YouTube video designed to target what has been described as “rampant Kremlin propaganda”.
Students from a number of universities in Kyiv released the emotive video in an attempt to urge their counterparts in Moscow to be wary of information released by Russian state-controlled media about the Ukraine its people.
The Russia-Ukraine “information war” has escalated dramatically during recent months, with Russian television accusing Ukrainian soldiers of torturing and crucifying a three-year-old child in a public town square in Slovyansk and describing pro-European protesters in Kiev as neo-Nazis.
The man behind the YouTube video, Kiev student Yevheniy Melnik, commented that Ukrainians are tired of the way that the Russian media portrays them as victimising Russian-speakers, describing those responsible for the video as “ordinary students who are trying to somehow put an end to this information war.”
The video targets Russian students with a call to action, imploring them to take the future into their own hands rather than pointing their fingers at the West.
“A war is going on in our country. Your soldiers and our soldiers are dying in our country, civilians are dying,” the clip says. “We call on you to lift the information curtain!”
“We stand on opposite sides of the barricades, and between us lie kilometres of misunderstanding,” they continue. “Between us lie tales about Nazis and Ukrainian nationalists.”
The Ukrainian students also explain that the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv were not a US-funded coup, as Russian state media asserted, but were held to denounce the “total corruption, complete rejection of European integration, media censorship and police lawlessness” evident under the then-President Viktor Yanukovch.
Melnik confirmed to RFE/RL that the video was created entirely by students, with no involvement from the government, in an attempt to challenge misconceptions about Ukrainians, which he and many other Ukrainians feel are further pitting the two factions against each other as Kyiv struggles against a pro-Russian insurgency.
“We – or, rather, the leaders of our countries – are the only ones to blame for our problems,” the video states. “Europe and America, where human life is the most important value, are simply upholding their principles and are not trying to bring anyone to their knees.”
Additional reporting provided by RFE/RL.
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