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Posted on Apr 13, 2023
Dr. Svitlana Chukut, (pronounced Chewkoo) currently living in Kingston, is a professor and researcher at the Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute and former chair of National Academy of Public Administration office of the President of Ukraine feels strongly that social media and e-messaging are the real weapons in the war in the Ukraine and even holds that Russia uses information as a weapon in such a way that Russia is not just fighting the Ukraine, it is fighting an electronic battle around the world.
Dr Chukut began by illustrating the incredible volume of users of electronic media.  Of a world population of 8.1 billion people, 5.4B (68%) are unique mobile phone users, 5.2B (64%) are internet users, and 4.8B (59%) are active social media users.

For those who would use information as a weapon, these numbers represent a huge audience.  This "audience" is the target of Russian youth organizations, experts, human rights defenders, religious organizations, scientists, and trolls. 

Much of this traffic is legitimate, but a lot is not.  For example Russian trolls are designed to infiltrate and steal information, disseminate misinformation such as claim that Ukrainians are mostly ethnic Russians, sway public opinion and/or sow fear, and even influence election outcomes such as the 2016 US Presidential election.

Chukut claims, one of the largest groupings of trolls is called the "Saint Petersburg Troll Factory".  Situated in St. Petersburg, it was involved in stoking anti-Islamic sentiment during BREXIT, influencing the Dutch referendum in 2016, boosting far right topics during the German elections of 2017 and influencing the American Presidential election in 2016 (this effort began in 2013 with an initial budget of $35 million).

Dr. Chukut ended her presentation listing the main reasons why Russia uses trolls in the Ukraine, but we remembered her words at the beginning of this presentation, "Russia is not just fighting the Ukraine, it is fighting the world.”

Svitlana Chukut of Kyiv, and her two sons aged 19 and 21, accepted an invitation from a friend to move to Toronto to get away from the war.  When her elder son landed a job as a software developer in Kingston, they made the move and found a month's interim accommodation with President Alicia and Barry!  They will be moving to their own apartment on May 1st.