Hate Speech Threatens Peace Process In Ukraine
25 December, 2015

“We are just afraid and not ready to listen to the other side in Ukraine”, Andriy Kulykov, a prominent Ukrainian journalist and the Hromadske Radio head tells Hromadske, reacting on recent research about rising war-related hate speech in the country. According to the study, Ukrainian media are heavily involved in hate speech with xenophobic statements against Eastern/Western Ukrainians, Jews are being the most common hate speech types in Ukraine.

Kulykov is concerned with inability of Ukrainian journalists to get rid of divisive military rhetoric: “The foundation for using the term ‘terrorist’ or rather not using the term ‘terrorist’ was that for some people, this person might be a ‘terrorist’, and for some people a ‘freedom fighter’. Not going to such extremes, I would say before your pronounce a person a terrorist, you should be really, really, really sure that they have committed the acts of terrorism. Even some people who belong to terrorist organizations are not terrorists because they have never participated in terrorist acts.”

Ukrainian media must learn to not covering the war in just “black and white” perspective, Kulykov says. “We should not be afraid to show or to air the opposite point of view, even if we are deeply offended or hurt by this point of view. It is important to know how, the side that ‘we are on’, physically, is depicted by those who are on the ‘other side’. So I think that we need public dialogue, we cannot exclude almost anyone from the public dialogue. And even if the ‘recognized’ or ‘pronounced leaders’ of organizations who are fighting Ukraine are ready to take part in this dialogue, we should opt for this,” he adds.

One of the Kulykov’s recipe for combating Ukrainian hate speech in local media is paying less attention to social media statements, which he treats as not truly representative of public opinion.

Hromadske’s Alexandra Azarkhina spoke to Andriy Kulykov of Hromadske Radio on December 15th, 2015 in Kyiv.