Ukrainians Turn to VOA and RFE/RL for Accurate Information on Developments

Ukrainians with the national flag gather in support of a united Ukraine in Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the U.S. will send nonlethal assistance to Ukraine's military in light of what he called Russia's ongoing destabilizing actions there. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)As the information war continues to rage on in Ukraine, and the realities of Russian control over resources sets in, more and more Ukrainians are turning to the networks of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for accurate and reliable information.

Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty continue to attract record digital audiences in Ukraine – VOA’s Ukrainian Service website has seen its number of visitors double since the beginning of the year.  The website for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, Radio Svoboda, had more than 4.5 million page views in the last week, with 85% of those from visitors in Ukraine.

RFE/RL’s coverage ranges from high-level interviews with Ukrainian officials, analysis of Russian propaganda and reaction to developments in the region. In a series of exclusive interviews, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma discussed Crimea’s annexation, the chaos in eastern Ukraine, and discord between Kyiv and Moscow; Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya told Radio Svoboda that evidence proves Russia’s involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine, and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko called on the Ukrainian government to impose a state of emergency in the country’s unsettled eastern provinces. Yuriy Prodan, Ukraine’s Minister of Energy and Coal Industry, announced that Ukraine is preparing to submit a claim to the Stockholm Arbitration Court over the contract between Naftogaz Ukraine and Russia’s Gazprom. The network also examined the complicated situation in which Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, finds himself.

In addition to RFE/RL’s daily Live Blog, the RFE/RL Ukrainian Service, Radio Svoboda, is providing live video streams from various events in eastern Ukraine, including the April 12 pro-Russian rally in Luhansk and April 17 pro-Ukraine rally in Donetsk, and has examined the situation on the ground in other key flashpoint cities. And in #UkraineUnspun, the network exposes Russian State TV’s disregard for the truth when it broadcast two interviews with a ”foreign mercenary” and a “pro-Russian patriot” who turned out to be the same man.

VOA’s Ukrainian Service continued wide-ranging daily television coverage to national audiences in Ukraine, including hearings at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee during which Secretary of State of State John Kerry accused Russia of stoking fresh unrest in eastern Ukraine, and at the Helsinki Commission, featuring Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, The report also featured comments by Rep. Steve Cohen, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Ukrainian Ambassador Oleksandr Motsyk. These events also were streamed live via VOA Ukrainian’s website.

VOA also provided important analysis on the financial and political effects of the new Russia-Ukraine relationship. The network featured reports on a talk to the Atlantic Council by Ambassador Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, about measures that could help Ukraine break its extreme dependence on Russian natural gas supplies within a few years; exclusive comments by author Anne Applebaum, who expressed concerns about the impact of Russian money in Europe and suggested broader sanctions were needed to stem Russia’s aggression; and an interview with Nadia Diuk, vice president of the National Endowment of Democracy. VOA Ukrainian aired an interview with former President  Jimmy Carter in which he explained how different the situation is in comparison with Moscow’s invasion of Afghanistan, which he had to deal with during his presidency. The interview has been republished by major Ukrainian media outlets, including Ukrainska Pravda.

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