Axel Ludwig Jacob, a co-founder of the MriyaReport, discussed the broadcasting work he has been doing to support Ukraine. Analogous to a modern-day radio call-in show, the MriyaReport, broadcasting 24/7 since Feb. 24, focuses solely on getting information about the war in Ukraine to the global English-speaking population.
The MriyaReport is managed by volunteers from around the world who provide around-the-clock news and commentary so that the situation on the ground is known and accessible to all. For months, Mriya report has ranked as one of the top ten Spaces (Twitter-version of a radio show) at any time, globally, across all languages. The Kyiv Post chatted with him Sept. 22.
Full disclosure: The Kyiv Post is collaborating with the MriyaReport to conduct some of its interviews with experts for articles, via the MriyaReport’s platform, so that a wider audience can hear the interview being conducted, and submit their own questions of the interviewees and our journalists.
What is the MriyaReport?
Since the start of the full-scale invasion, the team behind MriyaReport has been broadcasting live, 24/7, on Twitter Spaces so that everyone in the world can learn about the situation in Ukraine.
How did it start?
Starting from the first night of the invasion, Yehuda, an Orthodox Jewish businessman from Canada (we later found out he is an officer in the Canadian Army) spoke on the Space for nights on end. His dedication to speaking out against this violence and genocide inspired dozens of us to engage.
Under his stewardship, we grew from a handful of volunteers to 35, including an IT team, a talent cell that finds the best voices to speak with, in addition to the moderators who run the space 24/7. His only conditions have been no soliciting for personal funds, and to be committed to justice and freedom for all peoples. As a result he built a diverse community from all over the world and of different backgrounds. We are all different, but we share a love of freedom and support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and democracy.
Does MriyaReport do charity work to support Ukraine?
Collectively, we at MriyaReport support Mriya Aid, a not-for-profit organization that has dozens of volunteers and is chaired by Canadian Lt Col Melanie Lake. As you know, Lt Col Lake was previously the commander of Operation Unifier, the Canadian Armed Forces mission to Ukraine training Ukrainian military officers, NCOs (noncommissioned officers) and specialists.
So that people have context: What kind of speakers do you typically have?
We attract a lot of people who share our mission, and thus volunteer their time and talents to help the world keep its eyes on Ukraine.
Beyond discussing the military and humanitarian aspects of the war – its accompanying genocide – we also cover topics across economics, logistics, history and culture. We have had on folks such as Lt Gen Ben Hodges and Lt Gen Mark Hertling (both former commanders of US Army in Europe); Maj Gen Mick Ryan AM (Commander of the Australian Defense College) and Maj Gen Pekka Toveri (former Chief of Finnish Military Intelligence); Lt Col Alexander Vindman, and a wide number of other experts – including foreign policy researchers, elected officials, energy policy experts, and even an astronaut (Cdr Scott Kelly).
We have also promoted a number of Ukrainian voices, including human rights advocate Taras Ratushnyy; Dariia Tsykunova (partner of Ilya, an Azovstal defender imprisoned by Russians and now released); Alexander Kamyshin, the CEO of Ukrainian Railway; Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who formerly Headed the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and is now a Member of the Verkhovna Rada; Ministers; Journalists – really a very long list.
How much has the Mriya Report fundraised? What kind of projects has it done with that money?
Combined fundraising efforts with a focus on Mriya Aid are approaching an estimated $1M. MriyaReport has helped raise money for ear protection, winter gear, body armor, tactical medicine, drones, and night vision gear – covering nearly the full span of the kit required for Ukrainians to win this war. With close collaboration with UAVTek, United With Ukraine, and Mriya Aid, the Fury Drone drive is approaching $350K as a project on its own. The efforts of our volunteers have a cascading effect and many listeners have donated to other donation runs and causes presented on and inspired by the MriyaReport. Just yesterday a regular speaker and Norwegian member of parliament, with his crew, finalized the logistics for a delivery of 12 drones donated by Norwegian citizens to the Ukrainian Armed Forces this coming Sunday. We have many examples like it and MriyaReport is the Space to highlight and promote such action.
What’s a project that you guys have done that turned out well?
An audience member of MriyaReport chose to volunteer their time with MriyaAid, leading to a close collaboration with a defense contractor in the United Kingdom, which then led to close collaboration with Aerorozvidka (an aerial reconnaissance and drone warfare team). An initial project to deliver 10 drones has blossomed into a close collaboration between Mriya Aid, MriyaReport, and the Aerorozvidka units who are delivering impactful technology to Ukraine’s front line.
Another listener, an amazing neurologist from the US, was able to get buy-in from his hospital group to pay for a 20-hour surgery, costing in the millions – a reconstructive surgery for a particular wounded Ukrainian. Alas, the surgery did not happen because the soldier had to be treated immediately due to an unexpectedly swift deterioration in condition and could not undergo transport to the US.
How do you find people to keep this running 24/7? Will you be able/plan to keep it going until the war ends?
Some listeners become our moderators. There is a singular mission: Ukraine must win. We are all here to support her mission and counter Russian disinformation, bad actors, and narratives that are destructive to understanding this war. We take lead from Ukrainian people directly. They keep fighting for their survival, and we are right along with them in this fight. Yehuda has also been instrumental in building the team that now runs on its own as a decentralized crew with a high level of trust and corps d’esprit. His composure and his ability to find the good in people, has motivated the team of people from around the world to continue to support and run MriyaReport.
The Kyiv Post is now collaborating with the MriyaReport in some aspects. Could you describe that?
Sure. The idea is that the Kyiv Post regularly interviews important decision-makers. We thought it would be great for our listeners to be able to hear the Post’s journalists interviewing some of these experts and to also allow listeners to ask their own questions of those interviewees. This has turned into a successful formula and sparked a wide amount of interest. It has been great.
Some of the regular people in our Space include Kyiv Post Special Correspondents Chuck Pfarrer (a former Navy Seal), Ivana Stradner (an expert on Russian disinformation), and yourself.
How do you keep up with normal life and a day job while also running all of this?
Wartime is not a normal time, so we cannot maintain a normal life. We do so just as much as our fellow brothers and sisters in Ukraine. What is normal about genocide? There is nothing normal, is the answer, and it requires each of us to step up and rise to the occasion. Fortunately, there are nearly 40 million people to show us the exact example of how it is done, so we follow in their giant footsteps. Ukraine is fighting for us all so that we get to continue to live a free life, with basic public and common good that is shared by all.
Do you think that this is actually able to affect policy or foreign actions per Ukraine?
We have had huge buy-in from governmental types behind the scenes. They have asked for details, information, and contacts. We gladly provide them with whatever information we may have, but yes, we do have a sizable number of listeners who work in high-level policy jobs across Western Europe and the Americas.
What challenges have you faced in this informational Space?
We have always been extremely careful to not allow self-promotion – for publicity or profit – by anyone. We are committed volunteers doing this for Ukraine, and anyone who tries to steer our work in a different direction is out.
What would you hope someone who comes to your Space will leave knowing? Or doing differently?
Our central hope is that the people who join our space on Twitter @mriyareport get inspired like we did to do the most righteous thing of our century. There is clarity in the pure evil that follows Russia’s occupation. We see these results. We are met with the horrors upon each road, neighborhood, community, village, town, and city that is liberated from occupation. The listeners will learn about the depth, compassion, and spirit of Ukrainian people. Their culture, their world impact, will no longer be hidden and whitewashed by Russia. Their input to the world will be understood. We are here to amplify her people, her culture, and the very absolute, clear good that Ukraine brings to this world. The Spotify account serves as a repository of the key interviews and conversations.
How do you think the war in Ukraine will end?
Peace through victory. Supported by a global coalition, a resilient, strong, and unyielding Ukraine will fight and win all of its sovereign territory back. The darkest hour may yet come, but it is also darkest before sunrise.
MriyaReport broadcasts 24/7 on Twitter and some broadcasts are replicated on Spotify. To listen on Twitter, search for @MriyaReport
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