Halyna Padalko, a native of Lutsk, who is currently studying at the University of Waterloo in Canada, spoke about the harmful effects of Russian propaganda in Canada. She has experience in countering disinformation. This academic semester, Halyna Padalko is in Brussels on an internship at the European Parliament.
Last year, she took part in an event where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi was present online. On June 22, 2022, he met in an virtual format with all Ukrainian students who are in Canada. Halyna saw a visitor at the event who came with a poster “Stop NATO! Stop sending weapons to Ukraine! Peace with Russia!“. Halyna was shocked by what she saw. Until now, she had lived all the time in Ukraine and had never seen the propagandists live. Then came the moment when the students decided to do something. Together with the Ukrainian and Canadian students, they stood up and covered her from the camera’s view, and then one of the Canadian students took the poster away. For Halyna Padalko, this case shows that in such situations one should act, and not just stand aside.
Halyna Padalko notes that the Russian propaganda she encountered in this country is different. It spreads mainly on Twitter (now X), on Reddit and other social media sites on the Internet. Reddit is an entertainment and news online service where every user can post something.
Each pro-Russian narrative has its own goal. One of them is to quarrel Ukraine with other countries. For example, propagandists are actively spreading the idea “Why does the world help Ukraine, but other countries where there are wars supposedly not?”. In their messages, propagandists spread “hate speech”, saying that this can be explained by the fact that Ukrainians are white. The narrative that Ukrainians are “Nazis” is also actively spreading.
Halyna Padalko held 8 lectures in Canada on the topic of countering Russian propaganda:
“If you changed the opinion of one or five people, you are already did well. I try to do what depends on me. Everyone should do everything possible in order not to lose the war for minds abroad and in Ukraine.”