In the fall of 2013, I became a friend with a guy from Ukraine. The first things that connected us were cultural and traditional similarities because I am from Russia. We would always support each other at taking different tasks in school and even cheer for both national teams during a sports events. I remember how my friend and I were cheering for Russian national hockey team when they played against the United States during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Unfortunately, it was the last time when we watched Russian team playing together.
In the winter of 2014 Russian Federation occupied Crimea, which used to be a part of Ukraine, and then created a war conflict in the south-east of Ukraine starting in the spring of 2014. Occupation of Crimea peninsula was enough to change my friend’s opinion about my country. He, indeed, was against Russian intervention and angry at Russian government and people, who supported it. However, the most important thing in this story is how these events changed my views about politics and especially my government.
I used to support the Russian government before the conflict in Ukraine. I believed that my government works for the sake of own people. However, their actions just proved me wrong. They only cared about their own interests, and in order to make people more supportive of the government decisions, they started using highly effective propaganda. I was lucky that I was living in the United States, and my Ukrainian friend was able to show me the other side of the conflict. Therefore, I did not become a brainwashed by media, and I could analyze the whole conflict as an open-minded person.
Propaganda in a mass media is a tool used by the government to make people believe in what the government wants. This Ukrainian conflict showed me that friends, relatives, coworkers can become enemies. I mentioned how hate and anger were rising between people due to propaganda produced by media. Fortunately, I and my friend from Ukraine remained as best friends although we still have some different opinions about the Ukrainian conflict.
It is important to be able to stay away from the fake news and double check an information that you receive from any media. Before the conflict in Ukraine, I used to watch the Russia Today media channel, but as soon as the war started I could see that there are many things that are considered biased and even fake. Nowadays, I understand that a state media such as Russia Today is sponsored by the Russian government, and therefore it keeps introducing information, which is relevant to their order.
I believe that people should always be aware of their government’s actions. One of the things that helped me to understand the Ukrainian conflict, was the ability to be open-minded. My Ukrainian friend and location (I was in the United States when Crimea was occupied) influenced me, so I would not fall on the “dark” side, but it could become just a temporary effect if I would not start looking for other people’s opinions and facts. In the end, I made my own decision, who to trust, and the Russian government was not the one, which I could trust.
I am glad that politics did not take me apart from my best friend. I was able to make a right choice for me and stop following the fake news. Media, journalism, and politics changed for me forever. I keep reading the news every day, but I am aware that I can become a target for political propaganda. I try to teach others too, so they understand a danger of certain news media. In addition, I want people to know the truth about their government and the world.