Ukraine is involved in a hybrid war, in which disinformation and fakes are one of the tools. The most dangerous fake about the South of Ukraine is the myth about the so-called “Novorossiya”. What can public organizations, territorial communities, educators, scientists oppose today? Media literacy, critical thinking and a new resource that scientifically disproves this myth.
The non-governmental organization “Ukraine-Lithuania Cultural Center” has been actively supporting archaeological research in the Kherson region for 6 years and, together with the “Legal Space” IRC, is working on the restoration of historical memory. The focus of our attention is the Tyagin territorial community and Novokakhovska territorial community, where the monuments of national importance are located – the Tyagin Fortress archaeological site and the Watchtower (Vytovt’s Tower) architectural monument. Both of them relate to the history and culture of three peoples – the Ukrainian Cossacks, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the time of Prince Vytautas, and the Crimean Tatar people. In the information space, the discoveries of scientists create a real opposition to Russian fakes and information manipulations about the history of these lands.
Now no one needs to be convinced that the restoration of historical memory is important. However, a lot of time was lost, and the history of Ukraine was successively erased and rewritten under the Russian imperial narrative for more than 200 years. You can’t fix this in a year or two, which is why the Northern Black Sea and Southern Ukraine still suffer from the echo of the mythologized story about the supposedly civilizing role of the Russian empress Catherine II in the 18th century for these “wastelands”; the idea of “Novorossiya” is actually based on this. Unfortunately, this is the kind of story about the history of Southern Ukraine that you can hear both during excursions and in communities when talking to people.
In order to counter historical fakes and, in particular, the fake about “Novorossiya”, NGO “Cultural Center Ukraine-Lithuania” has developed a new website. He talks about fakes as a tool to manipulate our consciousness and our history. Here you can find examples of historical fakes, and understand why some of them are very dangerous. A separate page of the site is devoted to the research of the Tyagin Fortress and the modern discoveries of the Southern Medieval Expedition of the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences, which completely refute the historical myth about the so-called “Novorossiya”.
In January 2022, two presentations of the new website and webinars were held for heads of territorial communities of the Kherson region, employees of local administrations, teachers and school leaders, as well as for guides. Leading specialists, historians, and public leaders talked about how to distinguish fakes and counteract manipulations, and what communities can do to restore the true history of Ukraine – Deputy Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies Serhiy Danilov, Doctor of Science, Professor, Head of the Southern Medieval expedition of the Institute of Archeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Svitlana Bilyaeva, head of the board of the “Ukraine-Lithuania Cultural Center”, director of the IRC “Legal space” Natalya Bimbiraite, architect and head of scientific research of the NGO “Novokakhov Society for the Protection of Cultural Heritage” Lisa Yevseeva, historian and Head of the Kherson regional organization of the Committee of voters of Ukraine Dementiy Bily.
In today’s world, information shapes the reality of people’s lives. By changing information, you can manipulate not only the present, but also the past, erasing the achievements of our ancestors or inventing non-existent successes. Our ability to distinguish fakes and counteract manipulations thanks to scientific knowledge and the dissemination of reliable information strengthens the borders of our state – just as the Tyagin fortress once strengthened them.
The materials were developed by the NGO “Cultural Center of Ukraine-Lithuania” as part of the grant program of the project “Study and Distinguish: Info-Media Literacy”, which is carried out by IREX (Council for Scientific Research and Exchange) with the support of the Embassies of Great Britain and the USA. The content of the materials does not necessarily reflect the opinion and does not represent the official position of IREX, nor the Governments of Great Britain and the United States. These materials are allowed to be used for educational purposes and provided that this is done free of charge to the end user. A reference to IREX and the project “Study and Differentiate: Info-Media Literacy” is mandatory.».