August 9, 2019

UPDATED: ICDS Statement on Summer School in Ukraine in August 2018 and Resilience League activities

Statement on ICDS and Resilence League activities concerning Ukraine after recent Bellingcat reporting.

In suffering five years of war, Ukraine has inescapably become a country vulnerable to hostile influence, extreme views and xenophobia. ICDS has worked to understand the situation in Ukraine, and to support and assist the country in this difficult period. Our focus has been on information security and the organisation of training courses to fight extremism and strengthen resilience. In our work, we investigate propaganda and extremism, and we condemn all kinds of violence.

Our research has shown that societal divisions are one of the biggest vulnerabilities in Ukraine. De-radicalisation can only be achieved by seeking common ground between different social groups, encouraging honest and open discussion, and sharing views and values. The aim of the Resilience League autumn school in Estonia last November was thus to welcome, on neutral ground, a cross-section of different groups of Ukrainian and Baltic societies. We wanted to influence the views of young people across as wide a variety of groups as possible. We aimed for inclusiveness, not exclusiveness. A total of 50 people attended the autumn school, including members of the Muslim and LGBT communities and an Orthodox priest. Mykola Panchenko from the Ukrainian Education Assembly, whose radical views have been reported by Bellingcat, was among the participants.

We would have been available to comment this. Also, that at the end of the autumn school, all 50 participants were able to take pictures with the organisers.

In recent weeks, we have received much positive feedback on our work from Ukraine, including on social media from Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Information Policy Dmytro Zolotukhin.

Ukraine is important to us. We will certainly continue our research and the activities we undertake to strengthen Ukraine’s security and resilience in the face of hostile manipulation. To do otherwise would play into the hands of those who wish to see Ukraine divided and weak.

 

Statement on 2 August:

The International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) condemns extremism and violence. One of our research areas is extremism and propaganda and how to prevent hostile influence. In Ukraine, we have been organising training courses on strategic communication, information security and psychological resilience for five years. Feedback from many Ukrainians to our activities encourages us to continue our research and training efforts to strengthen Ukraine’s security and maintain a pro-Western stance.

The local organisers of the Resilience League summer school in Ukraine last August were two Ukrainian civic associations: the Centre for Progressive Communications and the Education Assembly. It is regrettable that we were not aware of the link between the Education Assembly and a far right movement. We agreed that the organisers can use the Resilience League visuals, while our role was to introduce Resilience League to young Ukrainian experts.

The summer school was attended by Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine, lecturers and researchers of Ukrainian and Latvian universities, a researcher at the Ukrainian Armed Forces Research Institute and other recognised experts.

The summer school 2018 was a one-off project for us, the Centre for Progressive Communications and the Education Assembly are not our cooperation partners. This year, the summer school organisers put our logo on the event without consulting us first. We have therefore asked them to remove the references to us from the event. ICDS does not attend this year’s summer school and we have not financially supported it. The event has been supported by the Ukrainian Ministry of Youth Work and Sport.

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