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Project April 17, 2019

Ukraine's 2019 Elections: Disinformation and Divides

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Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky. Image by Sergei Chuzavkov / Shutterstock. Ukraine, 2019.
Ukrainian presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelensky. Image by Sergei Chuzavkov / Shutterstock. Ukraine, 2019.

Ukraine: the home of Europe's hot war, and the Petri dish where Russian information operations are tested before being unleashed on the West. In spring 2019, Ukraine holds presidential elections as the euphoria of its 2014 revolution wanes. The government is entering the fifth year of occupation and language politics, grappling with single-digit approval ratings while citizens endure rising prices and stagnant salaries, watching as corruption seems to continue virtually unabated—all complaints weaponized by Russian propagandists.

Despite its role as Russia's laboratory and the lessons its journey holds for the West, Ukraine has fallen out of the headlines. Ahead of the election, Ukraine is implementing counter-disinformation measures, ranging from the democratic, including increased media literacy and fact-checking, to the flirtatiously authoritarian, such as banning Russian news outlets. Jankowicz covers Ukraine's walk along the fine line between defending democratic discourse and trampling freedom of speech.

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