Misinformation and environmental reporting in Ukraine: Q&A with Dymtro Simonov

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Press freedom can be paramount in a war-torn country where propaganda and disinformation are common tools perpetrators use. Reporters’ ability to report the truth helps them combat misleading information and hold perpetrators accountable. Dmytro Simonov, our corps member at Ukrainska Pravda reports on climate change in Ukraine, revealing how the Russian aggression has affected the environment. He told us about the Ukrainian people’s opinion of Russian propaganda and disinformation on environmental issues.

Report for the World: How does Russia use disinformation and propaganda on environmental topics?

Dmytro Simonov: As long as I remember, Ukraine has always lived under the influence of Russian propaganda. Some here in Ukraine understood this well, but many people took Russian propaganda as the truth.

Since February 24 last year, the situation has changed a lot. Russian propaganda, at least in its classical form, has lost its power. Of course there are some people in Ukraine who believe the Russians and their mass media. But the vast majority of Ukrainians absolutely do not believe them and do not even listen to them.

To some degree the war in Ukraine affected everyone. Millions of people left for another part of the country or another country to save their lives and the lives of their families. Hundreds of thousands took up arms. Millions support the army financially from their own budget.

Thousands of people died, went missing or were captured.

What can Russian propaganda say to counter this reality? Іn any field but especially in that which concerns environmental issues?

Maybe to write that it is not because of them that Ukrainian steppes and forests are burning?

Maybe that it is not because of them that thousands of dolphins in the Black Sea died?

Or is it not because of them that our agricultural fields are strewn with bombs and mines?

In this situation, I just have to continue reporting, to show what the Russians are doing to my land.