The Kremlin’s harsh media control over the Ukraine war has prompted hackers and volunteers from around the world to send messages directly to Russian citizens’ phones to inform them of the situation in Ukraine.
Some are calling it the “Digital Iron Curtain.”
Since the beginning of the attack in Ukraine, the Russian government has increased its control over the news that the Russian media gives to its citizens. It has blocked most social media in the country and censored independent media through a new law criminalizing war reporting.
“We do not need to buy weapons. “Our weapons are smartphones.”
Using a database stolen from millions of Russian phone numbers, a group of Polish-based cyber activists has created a simple way for anyone to send war news directly to Russian citizens.
“Thanks to all these people, we were able to send more than 40 million text messages, emails, and the WhatsApp app to the Russians,” said Jan Zumbach, founder of Squad303.
Using a nickname in honor of Polish war hero Jan Zumbach, the group’s founder says he was inspired by similar efforts during the Cold War.
“I remember when my parents and I listened to Radio Free Europe, because it was the only source of real information about the world,” he said.
The website 1920.in offers a phone number and message in Russian. Sending a message only takes a few seconds.
“It’s a tragedy for Russia and for Ukraine.”
She includes in her messages headlines and photos from a variety of media.
“I sent 95 or 96 messages and received responses from about 12 people.”
Some Russians question the veracity of the news.
“She replied, ‘I’m sorry you believe this information. It’s far from reality. ”
I hope through these messages to provide news that would make them think twice about what is happening.
19-year-old Anis Jerbi from Tunisia, who publishes his artwork on social media, has sent over a hundred messages.
“I think there is hope to convince them to understand what is really going on. “So I honestly trust the Russian people,” he said.
“It’s horrible not to have access to information from the West and the rest of the globe. Basically, this is a burden. “So, I believe that one day more people will engage in this dialogue,” he said.