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  • UK targets Eurovision viewers to counter Russia’s ‘infowars’
    Saatchi agency hired to run range of projects, from ‘rebranding’ Ukraine to influencing Russian-speaking minorities in Baltic states

    Britain is seeking to counter a cold war-style “information war” by investing in a range of projects, from “rebranding” Ukraine to influencing Russian speakers in Baltic states.

    The UK’s efforts have included hiring M&C Saatchi – the advertising agency synonymous with Tory election campaigns – to run a project with the Foreign Office to rehabilitate Britain’s ally Ukraine, including using social media to target viewers of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was hosted by Kiev this summer.

    Related:Envoy welcomes Russian idea for UN troops in eastern Ukraine

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  • Home Match: a young Ukrainian woman torn between football and family

    One crucial year in the life of Alina Shilova, a young Ukrainian woman born and raised in the poor suburbs of Kiev, who is torn between playing football and looking after her family.

    Alina’s life has always been based around playing football and she was considered for the Ukrainian football team. Her coach knows she is talented but Alina is failing to live up to her potential. Often Alina’s mind is on other things – her alcoholic mother has long been unable to look after her young brother and sister. After tragedy strikes the family, and with no alternatives, Alina becomes the main caregiver for her siblings, responsible for paying the bills and getting them ready for a crucial new school year.

    With football having to take a back seat, will Alina give up on her dreams forever?

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  • The west must defend its values against Putin’s Russia | Vygaudas Ušackas
    The outgoing EU ambassador to Russia identifies a deep and dangerous clash of values between Moscow and the west, epitomised by the Ukraine crisis

    When I arrived in Moscow as the EU’s ambassador to Russia four years ago, relations between the two blocs were strained but functional. Within months, though, Russia would annex Crimea and intervene militarily in eastern Ukraine, plunging ties to their lowest point since the cold war. They have been in deep and acute crisis ever since and, as I leave my post, I am pessimistic that we will be able to return to a normal partnership in the near future. The differences between us are vast and hinge on principles of European security.

    Today, the entire apparatus of the Kremlin has a singular focus: ensuring smooth and “credible” 2018 presidential elections that return President Vladimir Putin to power. Over the course of the six-year presidential term that will follow, it seems probable that the current clash of world views between Moscow and the west will continue.

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