Texty.org.ua editorial team faces pressure after publishing investigation into critics of U.S. aid to Ukraine

Дата: 13 June 2024
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The team at Ukrainian data journalism agency Texty.org.ua faces unprecedented pressure from various actors, including manipulation, defamation, demands to defund them, and threats of physical violence, after publishing a study into critics of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

The editorial office of Texty published an analysis of the political, media, and expert environment in the United States that influences decisions on further support for Ukraine in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

As part of the evidence base, the research includes a table listing organisations and individuals in the U.S. who oppose supporting Ukraine. The editorial office analysed their arguments, compared them with common Russian disinformation narratives, and debunked these narratives with evidence and source references.

Furthermore, they investigated how the individuals and organisations mentioned in the research interact in the public sphere and how some interact with Russian media and state institutions.

All published data regarding individuals and organizations are taken from the open, including official sources.

Texty.org.ua noted they do not label the subjects of this research as enemies of Ukraine, nor do they dispute or condemn their right to freedom of expression. 

The editorial office’s statement goes on to say, “We value and respect freedom of speech, a prerequisite for a democratic society. We reserve the right to present evidence, state facts, debunk false arguments, and compare them with those propagated by Russian propaganda worldwide.”

After the publication of this study, the director of the Ron Paul Institute, Daniel McAdams, initially posted on social media platform X, then wrote an article on the Institute’s website claiming that Texty.org.ua, funded by the U.S. government, created a hate list of American citizens. In this article, as evidence of outlet’s funding by the U.S. government, it is mentioned that one of its co-founders participated in the U.S. government project TechCAMP. Anatoliy Bondarenko volunteered as a data journalism trainer for this project in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

On the same day, as the editorial office reported, the manipulative information shared on the Ron Paul Institute’s website was disseminated on social media platform X by other conservative outlets, ultra-right and left-wing American activists, attacking both the Texty editorial team and the authors of the article personally, even issuing threats.

On June 11, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene called the study a list of enemies and claimed that allegedly President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was behind it. She offered no proof to corroborate this claim.

On June 12, FOX News reported that Senator J.D. Vance and Congressman Matt Gaetz called on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to send them information about the Ukrainian non-governmental organisation Texty by June 28. The letter’s authors also urged the House Appropriations Committee to halt U.S. support for Texty. On Tuesday, the committee approved the resolution.

On June 13, Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform X, who was also mentioned in our research, responded to the call from a Republican congressman to strip the outlet of any donor support by calling for the organisation to be listed as a terrorist group.

Texty.org.ua views this campaign as an attack on freedom of speech and a display of chauvinism against the citizens of Ukraine.

“Our critics believe that we do not have the right to investigate the streams of false information they produce about our country and us, simply because they are U.S. citizens, and we are not,” Ukrainian journalists concluded.

By way of background, Russian Armed Forces launched a missile strike on Kryvyi Rih in Dnipro Oblast, killing nine civilians and injuring 32 on the afternoon of 12 June.

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