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Activists Demand Arms for Ukraine in D.C.

June 4th, 2015 Written by | Comments Off on Activists Demand Arms for Ukraine in D.C.

Washington D.C. – Over 500 Ukrainian American protestors rallied in the President Obama’s backyard on March 5th over the prolonged Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine. Activist from around the country, including New York, Pensilvania and Detroit, urged president Barack Obama to deliver the defensive lethal weapons as promised in the Freedom Support Act signed in 2014. Credit: … Continue reading Activists Demand Arms for Ukraine in D.C.

Tags: Featured · Media · recent news

Activists Demand Arms for Ukraine in D.C.

June 4th, 2015 Written by | Comments Off on Activists Demand Arms for Ukraine in D.C.

Washington D.C. – Over 500 Ukrainian American protestors rallied in the President Obama’s backyard on March 5th over the prolonged Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine. Activist from around the country, including New York, Pennsylvania and Detroit, urged president Barack Obama to deliver the defensive lethal weapons as promised in the Freedom Support Act signed in 2014. Credit: … Continue reading Activists Demand Arms for Ukraine in D.C.

Tags: Featured · Media · recent news

Art of Activism: How Young NY Documentarian Helps Rising of Ukraine

December 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Art of Activism: How Young NY Documentarian Helps Rising of Ukraine

  Back safely in NYC after the gnarliest & most grueling month of work covering the Ukrainian Crisis. Grateful for the love & growth on this journey. Work continues stateside. The conflict is not over. #StopPutin #UkraineRising #Киев #Київ #Україна #Украина #революция #Russia #kiev #Ukraine A photo posted by VANESSA BLACK | BLKFLM (@blkflm) on … Continue reading Art of Activism: How Young NY Documentarian Helps Rising of Ukraine

Tags: Featured · new york · pro peace · PRO PEACE NY · Q&A · UA · ukraine

How Young NY Documentarian Helped Rising of Ukraine

December 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on How Young NY Documentarian Helped Rising of Ukraine

“I hope that the things people are fighting for – fighting against corruption and for better lives – I hope they get those things because they lost a lot to get there.” – Vanessa Black, Filmmaker.


What compelled you to travel to Ukraine at a time of danger and violence? Did your “filmmaker’s” curiosity about Ukraine push you to go document historic moments or spreading awareness seemed more important to you?

As a filmmaker, I wanted  to tell a story about real life that was in the MTV language for the American youth to understand. My goal was to explain the revolution to a younger audience. I bought a ticket as soon as I read about the sniper attacks on February 18th and I was on a plane four days later and a few days after I arrived the crisis in Crimea broke out.  So what was going to be a revolution story turned into a war story.

I was working on a project in Egypt that was going to be geared towards young people as a way to better understand what had happened there, but I had been watching what had been going on in Kiev because I have dear friends that live there and I spent some time living there as well, and I knew that it was a city that I could go to and do this project in, so I adapted it to the Ukrainian Revolution.

Freedom for Easter #UkraineRising #BLKFLM #NewYorkCity #StreetArt

A photo posted by VANESSA BLACK (@blkflm) on

Last year’s uprising was initiated by the young people born in a post-communism and an independent country, however, restricted by the same old politics. Did those young people resonate with you in any way?

The youth in Ukraine have been faced with an extraordinary crisis so there’s a completely different mindset, they care a lot and they’re a lot more like our grandparents than we are.

They believe in patriotism and nationalism. They have to fight for their freedom and that’s not something we can relate to because we’re so privileged to have this luxury of freedom.  We don’t even really recognize it. We’re so blasé here, and so unimpassioned and it is so celebrated in our culture. It would be great if we were more passionate about anything. I think if people start caring more about their futures and their dreams, they might feel like they have a purpose. Maybe then we’d start caring about everything else.  It’s this backwards culture we keep being served in media and advertising.

While gathering material in Maidan, interviewing people from different parts of Ukraine that together represented the whole country in one location, did the overall scenario feel different compared to watching it through TV or reading about it in the news?

I was shocked to find out that the anonymous “protestors” you read about in the news are overwhelmingly normal people. Imagine the cast of characters on any subway car in New York City – that will give you an idea of who the protestors were.

These normal people were in a real war in their hometown, and they were being tortured and killed by their own government. I am in awe of their bravery. I keep saying Kiev is a city of heroes. Grandmothers would hit the Special Forces with bats. Unbelievable.

Do you think Western media, in particular US, gives the ongoing conflict justice in the media? Does it deserves more coverage in order for US and its citizens to actually care about some crisis on the other side of the world?

Media doesn’t really convey what’s it feel like to be there so it’s hard to relate to. It’s a really big deal and it’s a huge conflict between the United States and Russia. It’s going to devalue Russia as a global superpower and it’s making NATO relevant again.

I don’t think I realized the scale of it. I mean you see pictures online and you see video clips but then when you’re actually in it it’s such a different experience because you’re in the thick of it.  You see how grand and devastating the urban battle field really is. I spent time around grenades, guns and all kinds of homemade weapons.

We live in such a globalized society that they’re not just the Ukrainians on the other side of the world, they’re in our face, they’re part of us, and we should know about that.

I was exposed to your work on Elite Daily and remember being caught by surprise on the NY streets seeing trucks with #UKRAINERISING and large photos at that time. A year later, street rallies and posters are basically out of sight, out of mind but Russia continues the war. What can NY activists do continue spreading awareness?

When I got back I immediately decided to do an urban gallery for New Yorkers about a revolution that was created by everyday people doing extraordinary things. I wanted it to be a gallery for the people, not in some sterile, white-walled gallery, it should be for everyone to see.  I also created #UkraineRising, tagging all of my posts in English, Russia and Ukrainian so that people all over the world could access the information.  I thought it’s an opportunity to use and express our voices.

I think relentlessness in activism is important. They cant stop until they get what they came out to do in the first place. Right now social media is the most powerful tool to keep going and continue talking about it. This is an unbelievable moment in history where you can have access to millions of people with the click of a button. I think it’s a tool that’s under used and I think we’re just beginning to understand how we can use it for good.

#vezzarium #ukrainerising #nyc

A photo posted by Alena Vezza aka Alya (@vezzarium) on

We met at Digital Maidan hosted by RAZOM FOR UKRAINE, an organization you’re  involved with. Tell me more about your collaboration?

BLKFLM supports RAZOM (which means “together” in Ukrainian) by raising awareness and helping promote their mission to foster Ukrainian democracy and civil society through a global network of experts and organizations supporting democracy activists and human rights advocates throughout Ukraine.

RAZOM and BLKFM use powerful social networking tools like #UKRAINERISING and organized Twitter hashtags storms. We collaborated after I arrived from Kiev and started the “public gallery.”  I reached out to pitch my documentary that was in the editing process at that point. They helped to promote my series on social platforms among the Ukrainian community while I did my part in the media like Huffington Post which picked up my posts from Elite Daily, other millennial platforms like Buzzed, Refinery 29.

Do you plan to continue working on the mission that BLKFM took on?

I continue to follow Ukraine amid my other projects. I plan to go back to Kiev when i get a chance to continue documenting the progress. Together with Razom, BLKFM plans to collaborate on the future films and active social media presence.

I want people to pay attention to what’s going on outside of their immediate world. This isn’t about some political conflict going on somewhere else in the world, it’s about our fellow mankind and what they’re struggling with right now and it’s important for all of us to be aware.

“Power to the individual. We can do insane things, believe in yourself. All of those clichés are clichés because they’re true.”






Tags: new york · pro peace · PRO PEACE NY · Q&A · UA · ukraine

Russian New Yorker Plans to Challenge Putin and Cause a Revolution

December 2nd, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Russian New Yorker Plans to Challenge Putin and Cause a Revolution

Despite an immense number of Putin supporters in New York and Russia, a few brave guys behind an NY-based group of activist “Russian Americans in Support of Ukraine” take an opposing stand against the dictator.

One of the group’s initiators Kostantine Tchourine, spent a decade in United States shaping his interests in politics while pursuing an degree from NYU. A 23 year old’s modern views led to his first step to not only show support to the protesting Ukrainians but also oppose Putin’s politics and spread awareness among Russian around the world.

Tchourine had stuck out of the Ukrainian diaspora of activists with a desire to stop Putin’s strategic politics. With his connection to the suppressed but aspirational Russian opposition in the Duma, he operates with an-anti-propaganda mission to spread informative news through Russian communities and ultimately be a part of a Russia’s own revolutionary Maidan.

What the focus of your group?

One of our goals is to show to the world and to Ukrainians in particular that many Russians are on their side and take an active stance against Putin. I personally focus on getting relevant information from Russian – and Ukrainian-speaking internet out to the English-speaking world. For example, if a video that shows Russian troops in Ukraine or Putin’s government’s abuses against Russians goes viral in the Russian/Ukrainian internet, I often put subtitles to it, reupload it, and share it through the Facebook page. A lot of this stuff often doesn’t even make it to the Western informational space. Thus, the primary focus of the group is to get the Western audience involved and to make sure they get exposed as much primary sources as possible, instead of reading large newspapers and watching TV to get their information.

What inspired your work? You must have heard about Ukrainians protests in Kiev and Crimean annexation. What had sparked your supporting ambitions? I mean you aren’t Ukrainian after all.

The biggest inspiration is a negative one. Something along the lines of almost shame for my own country and for the fact that they continue having support for Putin. That’s what happened when they annexed Crimea. And I just felt really guilty. I’ve never supported Putin and have taken some steps before to voice the truth through social network on my own with videos and news. But clearly my joined efforts with likeminded Russians couldn’t take Putin out of power and stop from him becoming a monster he is. I became an active supporter at the begging of Crimean protest. One of the guys I met at a Ukrainian bar on LES one night invited me to join a rally after I shared my views on the unfortunate situation.

So i thought if this could happen in Ukraine, it could happen in Russia. However, i did not think Putin would start a war. 

I don’t know how much influence can Facebook have as a hardheaded community  Russian. Have you been involved in any protest that would effectively express your positions?

To this end, I have personally and as a part of the group helped organize demonstrations across North America against Spivakov’s concerts in May and against Putin’s aggression on September 21 which was done simultaneously with many cities in Russia, where people gathered to support Ukraine and to demand an end of Putin’s aggression. There is also a Boston-based group Music Lovers Against Aggression (or Arts Against Aggression), which I’m also a part of and which consists of many Russian ex-pats, and who did a lot of work to make the protests against Spivakov happen. This I see as a measure to build an international bridge between Russians and Ukrainians, and also Russians and the West. I hope the Russian community’s show of support for Ukrainians will help prevent ethnic tensions that Putin is counting on for continuing his war.

Have you come across Russian propaganda in the United States while working on your mission?

Our group also focuses on the Russian information war happening on American soil, too. From the Facebook page, I posted some investigations which I don’t want to take credit for, but my researching definitely added something to them. The main goal was to get English-speaking population to notice this. The posts alone got a few thousand views and about a hundred shares on “Syria, Ukraine, who’s next?”, and about the Washington DC-based think tank “Center for Global Interest”. A bunch of my Ukrainian, Russian, and Georgian friends and I also staged a protest at a shop that was selling Putin t-shirts.

Many Russian American in New York or United States for that matter have kept silent or simply disregard the Russina-Ukrainian agression. How do you plan to sway their opinion?

I want to engage the Russian-speaking community here to make any sort of positive change. As American citizens, we do possess a lot of power. For example, I’ve been urging people to contact their congressman and senator and vote for S2828, a bill that would let the American government provide defensive help for Ukraine. I think this bill is very important if we want to contain Putin’s aggression and if we want his imminent downfall, which I think would be a positive change for Russian, Ukrainian, and American people.

What is your ultimate goal?

If we can get more people here involved, we can make a difference in Russia. Currently, we have enough people to make a difference here according to the four points outlined above, but what the Russian opposition currently needs the most is money, and we are a small, though active, group of students, middle-class people, recent immigrants, so we don’t enough money to make a difference. So currently, I’m not looking at all into making a difference inside Russia. We are in touch with some like-minded activists in Russia, but there isn’t really a lot right now we can offer. One thing I used to do a couple of years ago is adding English subtitles to Russian videos that exposed Putin’s corruption. But this, again, is a move that is aimed more at the Western audience; you can’t really involve more people in Russia by adding English subtitles… but maybe it helped a little.
The shoes you are attempting to fill are immense. Do you believe in the your ultimate success?
The plan is to continue doing the same things, basically, and hopefully to grow in numbers and to slowly get the Russian community in America on our side. It’s a slow and painful process, because the community is so split politically, but I am already noticing that Putin supporters are becoming less vocal. Furthermore, it is possible that due to the economic decline in Russia, Putin’s positions are weakening. Even if not in the near future, eventually he will lose power, and the political forces that are currently repressed will experience gains. If we manage to build a sizeable group of people in America who sincerely care about a more prosperous, freer Russia in the future, where the government will protect the people and each individual, rather than expecting to be protected by them, we will be able to help the right group of people to gain power in Russia, and to make the best efforts to make sure it doesn’t consist of ex-kgb agents, criminals, oligarchs and far-right nationalists (like it does now), but instead consists of highly-qualified professionals, unbending activists, individuals with a strong sense of humanism and empathy, and people who are unlikely to use aggression.




Russian New Yorker Plans to Challenge Putin and Cause a Revolution

December 2nd, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Russian New Yorker Plans to Challenge Putin and Cause a Revolution

Despite an immense number of Putin supporters in New York and Russia, few brave guys behind an NY-based group of activist “Russian Americans in Support of Ukraine” take an opposing stand against the dictator.

Tags: crimea · maidan · PRO PEACE NY · RUS · russian american · russians in new york · ukraine

SM Strategy

November 24th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on SM Strategy


Today’s concept of social media for online news platforms or blogs swirls around promoting and generating audience. Publishing blog posts on social media outlets acts the primary source of a readership and building a following. Therefore, conceptualizing posts as its own entity, rather than a part of a blog, frequent updates, visually attractive content and a network of likeminded “users” that would be able to repost or share my links – a strategy for aggregating traffic.





  • RAZOM FOR UKRAINE (together for Ukraine)- FB: Razom for Ukraine, Twitter: @razomforukraine, web:
    • Based in NY, “Razom coordinates groups of volunteers around the globe working on fund-raising, delivering supplies to Maidan, media campaigning, investigating corrupt activities, providing legal assistance, and working with government representatives and human rights organizations.” Their broad network would give global exposure from NY to Europe.
  • Ukrainian Truth web: Twitter: @ukrpravda_news, FB: Українська правда(Ukrainian Truth).
    • A prominent Ukrainian newspaper agency, both print and online. Its twitter strategy is mass retweets of activists, politicians, and other media entities to a 352K of global following.
  • Mashable: Twitter @ChristopherMiller FB: Christopher Miller – Senior Correspondent ‪@Mashable. Covering Eastern Europe, Ukraine & Russia.
  • TV: FB: Mustafa Nayyem, Twitter: @memfis
    • Ukrainian journalist and public figure, Hromadske TV’s former chief editor and cofounder, former Ukrainian Truth chief editor. One of the Maidan initiators.
  • BLKFM: Twitter @BLKFM– New York based production company. Produced material on Ukraine. The founder Vanessa Black is well known among Ukrainina community of activists in NY.
  • Digital Maidan: Twitter: @digitalmaidan FB: Digital Maidan– the social media hub in the information war against Putin’s propaganda. Its weekly Twitter storms have made #Ukraine trending #1 on Twitter.
  • Euromaidan Press: web: com FB & Twitter: @euromaidanpress – EP focuses on news and events in and relating to Ukraine, and is driven by articles both from professionals and experts, as well as volunteer contributions. Specializing in translations of local Ukrainian news outlets, EP strives to be the go-to bridge between Ukraine and the English-speaking world.
  • Ukrainian Museum in New York- FB: Ukrainian Museum.


People Covered in My Stories:


  • Valentina Bardakova – from the story “Teacher Turned Activist: A Woman Behind Biggest Ukrainian Protests in NY”. FB: Valentina Bardakova and Ukraine Abroad International.
  • Olena Sydlovych-director of The Ukrainian Institute of America. FB: Ukrainian Institute of America
  • Dmytro Desiatyruk- journalist from The Day Newspaper.


Active Social Media Individuals:

  • Anders Östlund – Tiwtter: @andersostlund
    • Swede living in Ukraine since 2009. Owner and founder of Fryday, an international network of professionals. Believe in democracy.
  • Andrea Chalupa: Twitter&FB: Andrea Chapula. Journalist, Author, volunteer, organizer of “Global Maidan” hosted prominent journalistic panels of humorists and filmmakers, for activists to learn more information about successful campaigning and spread of awareness about Ukraine in US.


Social Networks:


Facebook: About page same the blog.

Each blog post will be immediately shared in Facebook. The post will contain an excerpt summing up the blog post (About the person I profiled, or a covered event-who was there etc). The attached link will have a feature image pre-embedded so no picture inserts will be necessary. However, whether I cover an event or interview an activist, I will be posting a gallery from the meet up. It will work as a visual extension to the written story. Apart from my own blog links, I will promote other organization covering the distant or general news and events from Ukraine, while I’m based in NY.

The FB page will be connected to NY organization like Digital Maidan, Razom for Ukraine, Ukrainian Museum, the Ukrainian Institute of America.

After each profiling story I will continue following the person and its activity in NY. I will promote their meets up and events.


Twitter: For Twitter I will use the retweet and endorsement strategy of the accounts listed above. Interesting people, breaking news, events etc…

I will tweet out pictures and observations from events I plan to cover on my blog.

After tweeting a link to the new post with a featured image and appropriate hashtags, I will continue promoting the post daily with interesting facts from an interview with a profiled person, quotes, and pictures up until the next post. The account will be active 7 days a week with scheduled tweets on a software that allows automatic push of tweets at scheduled times.



This account will be updated with pictures only at events or if I want to let my followers in behind the scenes of the blog on topics relating to Ukraine. The aim will be more personal take. Audience tends to give its attention to open personas, showing personality and making the content entertaining once in a while.

I will use relevant hashtags and tags, short videos etc.





NY hosts a controversial exhibition on Ukrainian Maidan and Syria”Material Evidence: Ukraine Reacts” via @ConcordUA








2.A woman behind #Ukrainian protests talks volunteering and her journey from #Maidan to activism in NY via @concordUA


3.Another look at #Putin #Russia and #Ukrainian crisis from a Russian immigrant living in diverse New York via @concordUA



4.@UkrInstitute continues to spread awareness in New York at the time of unrest in #Ukraine via @concordUA



New Headlines:


  1. Opening of “Material Evidence Syria, Ukraine” aggravated New Yorkers.
  2. “Teacher Turned Activist: A Woman Behind Biggest Ukrainian Protests in NY”
  3. RUS NY: Russian Invasion Confirms the Obvious for One Russian

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News Up To Date

November 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on News Up To Date

FROM AROUND THE WEB On Monday, news agencies including The New York Times reported that  E.U. aimed the latest sanctions at Putin’s backed rebells in the Eastern Ukraine this time; not Kremlin. [NY Times]  Eastern Ukraine experienced an uneasy start of the week. Number of casualties reportedly escalated since the beginning of the September cease-fire, as Russia resumed … Continue reading News Up To Date

Tags: recent news


November 19th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on NEWS UP TO DATE


  • On Monday, news agencies reported on latest E.U. sanctions aimed at Putins separatists friends in the Eastern Ukraine; this time not Kremlin. [NY Times]
  • On November 17, Easters Ukraine experienced escalation of casualties since the beginning of the September cease-fire, as Russia resumes heavier supply of troops and artillery to the rebells. (Kiev Post)
  • During the NATO Summit today, Ukraine’s President Mr. Poroshenko ignored Russia’s attempts to keep the nation out of NATO, stating that Russia has no right to decide the future of Ukraine [Ukraine Today]
  •  Ukraine implemented a new national celebration Day of Dignity and Freedom on November 21 to remember the anniversary of the country’s historic break from corruption. [Mirror Weekly]


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Ukrainian Institute of America

November 10th, 2014 Written by | Comments Off on Ukrainian Institute of America

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