It seems that the news which goes beyond the borders of your country and is broadcasted by foreign media is something hot, important and relevant. Something that makes the British instead of drinking tea with milk still read about Ukraine in the morning. But is it always the main thing put into the public realm? Opinion found out what mark was left by Ukraine on the pages of foreign media during August, and what an important thing was neglected.
Oleh Sentsov: the world is at your side
Ukraine is Sentsov. So, without any exaggeration or hurray-patriotism, the overwhelming majority of publications of foreign media can be briefly described. The unlawful imprisonment of Ukrainian citizen and his hunger strike, which has already crossed the line of a hundred days, really shook the whole civilized world. If at first, news about Oleh was written carefully and with a modest air, as if with a fear to say too much, and was limited by small informational messages, the last month set the record straight: the world really cares.
The American-French writer Jonathan Littell published a letter to Sentsov on the pages of The Guardian British edition, in which he emphasized: Oleh is not alone, since cinematographers, writers, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens from around the world constantly think about him and support, wishing to see him free as soon as possible.
The letter itself is a kind of insight for each reader. Turning to Sentsov, the writer at the same time retells the entire story of the Ukrainian director, describes in detail the actions of the Russian authorities and constantly emphasizes: the world admires courageous Oleh.
“The only thing I can tell you, expecting your dismissal, – this fight is not for nothing. Your protests against the illegal annexation of the homeland, against gross violations of international rights by Russia, against inhumane violence and repression of its regime, against lies, propaganda and misinformation – all this makes a big difference. Not only for your friends, not only for Ukrainians. But for a large number of people unfamiliar to you, for their right to live in a world free from Russian aggression and manipulation. We are at your side”, is said in a letter.
The support of Oleh was also written by Deutsche Welle. “Oleh Sentsov, an imprisoned film director”, under this title, German journalists briefly told about the creative achievements of Sentsov, gradually moving to the list of those, who had already spoken in support of the Ukrainian. Writer Stephen King, German filmmakers Wim Wenders and Volker Schlondorf, actor Johnny Depp, British directors Mike Lee and Ken Loach, numerous public activists from all over the world are just a part of those, who seek for Oleh’s freedom.
Representatives of Czech Republic also support Oleh. According to the radio station “Radio Prague”, activists from the Czech organization “People in Trouble” launched an action similar to those, that are constantly happening in Ukraine: users of the network are invited to take pictures with the “Oleh in trouble” hashtag and publish the photo on their own page. According to the activist Zuzana Hruberova, for a rather short period of time, he managed to collect more than 200 photographs, and not only the Czechs but also citizens of other countries joined the flashmob. The photos are planned to be printed and sent to Sentsov to remind him once again: he is not alone.
A tangible increase in the number of news regarding Oleh’s hunger strike took place after the terrible figures reached a hundred. To tell Sentsov’s story once again and share their own thoughts – here is the plan of foreign media. For example, the TV channel France 24, citing the chronology of events surrounding the imprisonment of the Ukrainian director, showed the thoughts of journalist Douglas Herbert, who is trying to understand: will Russian president set Oleh free, and whether Moscow’s fear of being weak?
In fact, it’s physically impossible to recount or even merely list all the texts that mention Sentsov’s surname. And probably this is exactly the case, when the number really matters, because even the smallest message, the shortest mention, is able to keep afloat simple, but very important reminder: Sentsov and other prisoners are still there. It is ridiculous to be blind optimist and to believe, that foreign media editorial teams start every morning with reminding of Ukrainian prisoners. The laws of the information market do not have a sense of regret or compassion, because it is, first and foremost, the market itself. But the fact that among thousands of news journalists from different countries still find it possible and desirable to remember Oleh’s name, only contributes to the words of Jonathan Littel: the world is at our side.
Parade on the Independence Day: eulogy to the military and critics of the new greetings
This year’s military parade on the Independence Day has shown that the Ukrainian army is capable of changing. Instead of the destroyed by world and time of Soviet machines, which could only be seen in 2013 on May 9, on the 27th birthday of the country, Ukrainians received a real reason for pride: modern cars, long-awaited aviation, and the military, that even the greatest “zradophile” couldn’t be ashamed of. Therefore, it is not surprising, that the march of the new army attracted the attention of foreign journalists.
The British Daily Mail media has marked this year’s parade as the biggest in the times of Ukrainian independence. “The audience was able to see an impressive procession: about 4,500 troops, up-to-date weapons and 250 units of modern machines” – this is only a part of the enthusiastic reviews of British journalists. However, the text also recalled the losses incurred by the Ukrainian army on the eve of the parade: four dead and seven injured defenders.
The level of the Ukrainian parade was also assessed on the pages of the Turkish daily Daily Sabah media. “Ukraine celebrates the 27th anniversary of independence with the largest military parade in Kyiv, the war against Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country continues”, the article said. The Turkish journalists didn’t ignore the speech of the Ukrainian president, emphasizing that he “took the opportunity to discuss the important role, that Ukraine plays in protecting the borders of Europe”.
Another central subject of the text was the new greetings of the Ukrainian military. But, the Turkish edition calls the greetings of “Glory to Ukraine” a “controversial slogan of EuroMaydan, which in 2014 displaced Viktor Yanukovych, who supported Moscow”. But the true story of such a greeting in the text is not mentioned at all.
In more details, the German Deutsche Welle media tried to sort out the new military greetings. But it is not that clear: according to the authors of the text, the new slogan hints at ties to “nationalist groups of the Second World War”. Therefore, according to the text of the article, it leads to a number of discussions about how the country should deal with its history.
At the end of the article, the authors conclude: Ukraine needs to learn to separate the slogans, like “Glory to Ukraine” from their roots in the past. For a long time, according to the German historian, presented in the text as an expert, there were two antagonistic narratives in the Ukrainian discourse: Soviet and nationalist. The latter just supposedly forms the state policy of Ukraine from 2014.
Irish Daily The Irish Times instead paid attention to the Ukrainian ambitions for joining the European Union and NATO. The promise of Ukraine to stop all ties with Russia in the context of the desire to join the EU and NATO as soon as possible, journalists have for some reason linked to the presence of American officials on the parade.
Namely, the desire for the Irish is nothing more than the results of the “anti-corruption pro-Western revolution” (that is, the Revolution of Dignity), which pushed the Kremlin-supported leaders away. In light of this, according to The Irish Times, Kyiv is trying to deepen its diplomatic, economic and defence ties with European countries.
By the way, far from all the references to the march of the new army were isolated in the separate material. For example, one of the photos of Ukrainian photographer Mykhailo Palinchak, which depicts the march of our military, was included in the selection of the best photos of the day according to the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph. Other texts regarding the military parade in Kyiv were not published.
Probably it is worth being realists: the war in eastern Ukraine no longer occupies the place of “top” themes for the vast majority of foreign mass media. They turn to it in case of politicians’ meetings, someone else’s statements or tragic anniversaries of those or other events. One way or another the war is remembered, when they write about Sentsov. It seems that it is gradually becoming an add-on to other informational reasons. However, this does not mean that we have forgotten the war in our country. And moreover, it does not mean that they stop writing about it.
In early August, on the pages of The Japan Times was stated: in the war with Ukraine, Russia uses the experience and lessons of the war in Georgia. In accordance with the picture of events depicted by Japanese journalists, Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in response to the election of pro-Western politicians in Ukraine. After that, Moscow began to support pro-Russian separatist rebellions in the east of our country. But saying the truth, in the text itself, the authors explain: as in the case of Georgia, the Kremlin’s authorities tried to stop Ukraine’s re-orientation towards NATO, they say, for Russia, such actions of neighboring states are inconceivable.
Using the help of experts, journalists conclude that the Russian-Georgian war was something like rehearsals, “the first attempt”, which formed the Kremlin’s further policy. Moreover, the text clearly emphasizes: if there was no war in Georgia, there would be no annexation. One of the lessons that Russia has learnt is not to officially recognize the territories occupied by their own army as independent since this does not always work. At the same time, Japanese emphasize: Georgia demonstrated Russia’s weaknesses in the context of the information war, which in turn pushed Moscow to create new propaganda media. However, trying to gain some recognition in view of its military power, Russia instead damaged all relations with the western countries. Even more, everything was ruined all after the invasion to Ukraine, since after the war in Georgia, according to experts, Russia still had a chance for forgiveness. It did not use the last one.
Demining of the east of Ukraine can last for decades. The podcast with such a thesis was published on its website by the German media of Deutsche Welle. Journalists reported, that the demining of the territories is already taking place, even though the battles are still going. However, according to the opinion of the experts, the delousing of one of the richest regions of the world can last for decades. By the way, Opinion already wrote about the prospects of mine clearance of Ukraine, that time our author also came to the conclusion, that the process can take… half a century.
Putin, Merkel, Ukraine – is someone a fifth wheel?
On the eve of a meeting between the Russian president and German chancellor, Deutsche Welle tried to figure out what to expect from this conversation. It is interesting, that the section devoted to the Ukrainian issue was called “Ukrainian migraine” by German journalists. According to the text, Germany, as well as France, is trying to become a mediator in the issue of ceasing fire between the Ukrainian army and the separatists, which, in theory, may in the future be controlled by the UN blue helmets.
However, how exactly this issue will be implemented – is still a mystery. After all, according to the authors of the DW, Putin, last year, suggested that the UN is… only a “protective force” for the OSCE, which is engaged in monitoring the fire in the area of fighting in eastern Ukraine. According to experts, such ideas increase the level and intensity of negotiations, but the willingness to speak is not yet capable of finding real compromises on the part of Moscow.
In the end, according to the British newspaper the Independent, the agreement during the meeting between Volodymyr Putin and Angela Merkel has never been achieved. A columnist for the China Information Internet Center says the same. According to him, the issue of Ukraine was actively discussed, but both leaders have opposite views on the annexation of the Crimea. At the same time, both Putin and Merkel favored the continuation of a joint dialogue.
Rock star as the President of Ukraine?
And if for us the discussion about the potential participation of the leader of the group “Okean Elzy” in the presidential election has become something routine and irrelevant, the foreign press, on the contrary, is trying to understand: whether the rock star can become the next ruler of the country. In particular, this issue worried the German Deutsche Welle media.
The journalists point out: even though the singer himself denied the presidential ambitions, at the same time he did a lot to ensure, that all these rumors appeared. These are lectures for students, and courses at Stanford University, as well as a concert dedicated to the Independence Day of Ukraine. The last, according to German journalists, was a moment of waiting for many Vakarchuk fans: everyone was hoping to finally hear an official statement. However, even despite the silent intrigue of the rock star, the bookmakers are supposedly making the first books on the singer, and in sociological polls, the singer of “OE” outstrips even the current president.
But which election goes without a suitable competition? The main opponent of Vakarchuk is the comedian Volodymyr Zelenskyi. According to the authors of the text, the actor already has a presidential experience, though exclusively on a television screen, and his rating makes it possible to get close to Sviatoslav Vakarchuk. The journalists did not make any predictions about the political mantle of Ukrainian stars but summed up: if one of them still joins the race, the other, the “traditional”, candidates will have to invent new PR strategies to stay in their places.
+1 to the Lomachenko’s piggy bank
TV viewers of the UK’s most popular sports channel, SkySports, have recognized Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko as the best boxer in the world. “Numerous victories, main awards in three weight divisions (and that’s only after 12 battles), Olympic gold” – so, the authors’ response to the rating of our athlete was quite decent. We must say, that for Vasyl voted 30 and a half thousand spectators.
Gods, poets and the roads
What can combine all these words in one sentence? So that all this would concern Ukraine? Unexpectedly, but so, the material from the BBC. “God and the poets return traffic safety to Ukraine” – the text with that title was made public on the site of the British company in early August.
This is a series of attempts by the Ukrainian police and authorities in certain areas to increase road safety. For example, in the framework of the frontline police project, with the support of the Government of Canada, five animated videos were created in which God calls on Ukrainians not to fool on the road.
It is interesting, that in the text itself the author of the material calls Ukraine “a deeply Christian country”, which engaged in this action of the Lord himself, in order to at least somehow deal with a record number of deaths as a result of accidents.
But not God alone. “In the Lviv region, the stronghold of the Ukrainian-speaking culture took a new course to publish on the network images of classical writers Taras Shevchenko and Ivan Franko, who offer their own management tips, as well as decorated with traditional embroidery”, BBC writes. The review of the salvation for Ukrainian drivers ends with the author’s conviction, that “nobody has yet to argue with these tips”.
The August media publications report, that Ukraine is still considered on the international arena, its issues are relevant beyond the borders, and the media of other countries may be interested in the most unexpected news. However, at the same time as the reflections on Vakarchuk’s presidency and (not) successful social advertisements journalists from other countries didn’t notice more important and up-to-date problems: attempted assassination of Kateryna Handzyuk and other activists, the release of the Ukrainian captive Oleksandr Kostenko, an epic with a film about Vasyl Stus, etc. It’s not about guides or tips for foreign colleagues. It’s about the fact, that we have to deal with our own country first of all independently, without waiting for additional help.
Text by Dmytro Zhuravel