Ukraine, which is on the front lines of Russia’s international disinformation and propaganda war, was well-represented at the recent Empowering Citizenship in Our Shared Digital Future conference, hosted by American University’s Washington College of Law. Four Ukrainian experts spoke on a panel focusing on challenges faced by democratic institutions due to propaganda, misinformation and cyberthreats.  They were:  Andrii Paziuk (Vice President of the Ukrainian Academy of Cyber Security), Nataliia Kovalchuk (Ukrainian Catholic University) and Anton Korynevych and Olha Poiedynok (both of the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University).

Andrii Paziuk moderated the session, Nataliia Kovalchuk talked about Russia’s reliance on 19 th century Russian Pan Slavic ideas in its propaganda war and current official discourse, Anton Korynevych addressed the need for adapting international law to address cyber warfare and the use of cyber weapons, and Olha Poiedynok discussed how information warfare is used to alienate citizens from their state.  Another panel at the conference focused on issues communities and countries face related to access to information, use of media in public campaigns and digital empowerment.

Most of the conference speakers, including Andrii Paziuk and Nataliia Kovalchuk, are participants of the State Department-funded Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, which provides awardees a year of non-degree academic study and related professional experiences in the United States. Humphrey Fellows are selected based on their potential for leadership and their commitment to public service in either the public or the private sector.  The program offers fellows valuable opportunities for leadership development and professional engagement with Americans and their counterparts from many nations. Thirteen U.S. universities host Humphrey Fellows—Mr. Paziuk is at American University and Ms. Kovalchuk is at Penn State University. The conference was presented by the fellowship program.

The panel on Peace, Freedom and Security in Cyberspace, included Anton Korynevych and Olha Poiedynok of Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, and Nataliia Kovalchuk of Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv.

During a visit to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, Andrii Paziuk, Anton Korynevych and Olha Poiedynok shared their insights about the impact of Russia’s military and hybrid warfare against Ukraine.  The Friends of Ukraine Network, a coalition of experts organized by USUF, recently created a Disinformation and Cybersecurity Task Force to facilitate and support U.S. engagement with Ukraine on these issues.  In an interview with the Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service, Professor Korynevych talked about the importance of strengthening the emerging U.S.-Ukraine cybersecurity partnership.

Photo at top of page: Speakers at the conference on Empowering Citizenship in Our Shared Digital Future at American University. Andrii Paziuk, (first on the left, front row), is a Humphrey Fellow from Ukraine and was a leading organizer of the event. (Photos in this article are from Nataliia Kovalchuk’s Facebook page).

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