Year Report 2018

Upholding Democratic Values in the Era of Deep Fakes

“We're entering an era in which our enemies can make anyone say anything at any point in time.” That’s what Barack Obama said in a video released in 2018 - or so it appeared. In fact, the video was fake.

Over the past year machine learning technologies have made major breakthroughs in creating so-called ‘deep fakes’. Neural networks have learned to accurately simulate people’s gestures, facial expressions and voices. It’s getting easier and cheaper to produce such fakes, and increasingly difficult to identify them.

Such dangers of the digital world - and its opportunities - are the focus of attention of the experts at Digital Security School 380, on their Facebook page and in their digital security trainings. In 2018, six such trainings were held for journalists, human rights activists and representatives of women's organizations.

Phishing, firewalls, password management, device encryption, cloud storage, VPN, two-factor authentication – all of these terms are now familiar to the training’s roughly 100 participants. Most importantly, after the training they are now able to protect themselves from cyber security threats. DSS380 experts also supported five Ukrainian editorial offices with digital auditing and advanced consultations.

The specialists of the Internet Freedom project have kept abreast of issues related to online freedoms and have written about them regularly on a dedicated website. In addition, the team provided legal support services for three cases in which digital rights and Internet freedom were violated in Ukraine.

Disinformation has become a powerful tool of Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine. In 2018 we have made significant efforts to counter the Kremlin's propaganda.

  • Ukrainian veterans of the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine presented their book ‘Voice of War’ in Kyiv at the Book Arsenal fair and in Paris at Salon du Livre, the most popular book event in France. This gave Europeans the opportunity to hear the voices of 22 veterans who defended Ukraine from Russian aggression and who expressed their painful experience through literary essays.
  • The Ukrainian documentary ‘The Limits of Waiting’ won ‘Best Director of a Foreign Language Documentary’ at the 2018 Madrid International Film Festival. Thanks to the screening in Madrid, a large audience abroad learned about Ukrainians who were held captive or went missing as a result of the military conflict in the east of Ukraine.
  • The book ‘Words and Wars: Ukraine Facing Russian Propaganda’ was presented in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and European institutions in Brussels. The book also was recognized as one of ‘the best summer books’ in the Ukrainian literary contest ‘Book of the Year 2018’ (sociology and political science category).
  • The policy paper ‘Taming the Hydra: How to Resist Kremlin’s Information Aggression?’ was published and presented for Ukrainian and international audiences (Kyiv, Brussels, Berlin).

What else made 2018 memorable? The world's first AI news anchor was unveiled in China. He is able to report news from anywhere in the country and work around the clock. Our human Internews Ukraine team does not have such a superpower, but in 2018 we successfully did things which robots are still not capable of.

Created viral videos to inspire Ukrainians to share European values

Europe begins with you. We communicated this powerful message to Ukrainians through creative videos in social networks:

Wrote about Ukraine for international audience

How are things going with Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia? What are the Kremlin’s plans in the Black Sea region? What is known about the candidates for the President of Ukraine? Why is Ukraine’s IT sector thriving? How has Ukrainian music become a world-class phenomenon? The answers to these and many other questions were sought by the UkraineWorld team, which created and published 75 articles, 14 videos and 6 podcasts for western audiences in 2018.

An open letter to MEPs and special publications on UkraineWorld made significant contributions to a diplomatic victory by Ukraine – Russia lost battle for PACE in October 2018.

The articles by our analysts were disseminated in leading Ukrainian and foreign media sources including openDemocracy, EUObserver, Euractiv, Euromaidan Press, KyivPost, Atlantic Council, Ukraine Verstehen, Emerging Europe, Hromadske, and the Ukrainian Think Tank Liaison Office in Brussels. The article on Ukrainian oligarchs at the Atlantic Council was included in their top 10 publications of 2018.

Supported Reform of Public Administration in Ukraine

Our strategic communication efforts in support of public administration reform reached 3.5 million Ukrainians, who are now aware of the civil service renewal. We developed a logo, a brandbook, and a PA Reform Communication strategy till 2020 for government. More than 29 thousand applicants sent their CVs and about 500 professionals joined a brand-new team of Ukrainian civil servants.

Enhanced NGO Communication Efforts

We provided mentorship for 20 NGOs that work in the field of communications for governance reforms. 200 consultation sessions with expert advisors, 20 opinion surveys for each organization, 20 developed communication manuals and 4 training sessions – all of this will help NGOs to communicate clearly and more efficiently.

Met you offline and online

68,935 users visited our website in 2018, and 2307 people joined our Facebook community – we have almost reached 11000 fans there! Just as enjoyable as virtual were our real meetings: 7,778 representatives of media and the public sector participated in 133 events held by Internews Ukraine. In addition, we issued 230 small grants for Ukrainian editorial offices.

Thank you 2018 for new challenges, gained experience and important victories. "When you firmly follow the path that you began to go, then, in my opinion, you are happy," wrote Ukrainian philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda. We are happy that with your support we build the country of our dreams: peaceful, successful, European. Victory will surely be ours: 2019, please don’t let us down!