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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

On wartime satire

Roman SHRIKE: “Dear Ukrainians, take care of your karma. Leave the mental field of Russia…”
11 August, 2014 - 17:42

Roman Shrike, a well-known satirist and blogger, founder of the website durdom.in.ua, regularly “blows up” the Ukrainian Internet with his witty satirical phrases, photo and video parodies. Thousands of Web users quote and repost his jokes in Facebook. The Day asked the blogger about the particularities of wartime satire and the mood of Ukrainians in social networking sites.

Political satire is always a sharp weapon. But is there a place for humor today, when there is a war going on in Ukraine?

“Any war is an awful tragedy. But victories are often won in wars thanks to the mood of both soldiers and the people they are defending. And there can be no right mood if people are extremely strained for a long time. So, I think there should be a place for joking. There can be various satires in wartime, but practice shows that people prefer making fun of the enemy and showing confidence in their defenders.”

Russia has drawn Ukraine into an information war now. What do you, a well-known blogger, think about the role of social networking sites and the blogosphere in combating Russian propaganda?

“Like never before, social networking sites are extremely important now because they have turned into volunteer networks that help supply our soldiers with all they need. And, as we can see, these initiatives are far more effective than the clumsy and inert governmental organizations. Likewise, when information was in short supply, there appeared people who furnished the latest verified information – such as, for example, Dmytro Tymchuk’s group Informational Resistance. In this case, social networking sites play the role of one big media resource that gives people important information. These websites are also important for the shaping and spreading of current ideas and meanings.”

But there is such a well-known thing as paid Internet trolls who can hackney any important topic…

“If it is about website comments, either they should be moderated or, if you are unable to do this skillfully, you should deny the possibility of commenting. On some sites, comments are a breeding-ground for bots. Who stands to gain? If it is about social networking sites, paid commentators and those stupefied by Russian propaganda must be mercilessly banned. For there can be no constructive chat with them in any case. If there were no war in Ukraine now, there could be softer measures, but now only harsh ones.”

Active Internet users are worried today that there is open access in social networking sites to the pages of terrorists and leaders of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. What do you think of this?

“If international organizations officially pronounce the DNR and the LNR as terrorists, there will be no problem. They will be closed. But so far, let me remind you that the Ukrainian segment of Facebook is administered by… a Moscow office. So, there may be complications here. In reality, their pages on social websites are not so harmful, as far as spread of information is concerned, because grogs will always find a swamp. But they must be closed to show that terrorism is inadmissible in a civilized society.”

A campaign is now underway in the Ukrainian Internet against Russian social networking sites. In particular, there are calls not to use VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, etc. Do you support these calls?

“I cannot support this practically and begin to ignore Russian social websites because I never use them – I made a civilizational choice in favor of Facebook long ago. I can only call upon the Ukrainians to leave the mental field of Russia. Take care of your karma!”

By Vadym LUBCHAK, The Day