Putin = War Criminal
- Apr 18, 2013
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- Political Leaning
How Ukraine Is Crowdsourcing Digital Evidence of War Crimes
The collection and use of so-called "citizen evidence" is another way that Ukraine is reinventing modern warfare
Iryna Vereshchagina films with her mobile phone destroyed Russian tanks and armoured vehicles
It all looks like a game at first. Verified users of Ukraine’s government mobile app are greeted with options illustrated by icons of military helmets and targets. An automated prompt helps you report Russian troop movements in your area, and rewards you with a flexed-arm emoji. “Remember,” the message says. “Each of your shots in this bot means one less enemy.” Another option on the menu, illustrated by a droplet of blood, prompts Ukrainians to report and submit footage of war crimes in places now associated with horrific atrocities: Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel. This chatbot, created by Ukraine’s Digital Ministry and dubbed “e-Enemy,” is one of half a dozen digital tools the government has set up to crowdsource and corroborate evidence of alleged war crimes. Since the start of the invasion, Ukrainian officials, lawyers and human-rights groups have scrambled to design new ways to catalogue and verify reams of video, photo and eyewitness accounts of criminal behavior by Russian forces. Ukraine has adapted popular government apps to allow citizens to document damage to their homes, used facial-recognition software to identify Russian military officials in photos, and rolled out new tools to guide users through the process of geo-tagging and time-stamping their footage in hopes it may help authorities hold the perpetrators responsible.
The result is a systematic effort unlike any in the history of modern warfare, experts say. Crowdsourcing digital proof of war crimes from witnesses has been done in other conflicts, but “the use of open-source information as evidence in the case of Ukraine may be at altogether a different level,” says Nadia Volkova. The apps, chatbots and websites designed by Ukrainian officials categorize different kinds of war crimes and human-rights violations and all feed into one centralized database set up by the office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General. Ukrainians are rallying to the cause. A website set up by the office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, warcrimes.gov.ua, has received more than 10,000 submissions of detailed evidence from citizens, an official told TIME. The government’s efforts are supported by a legion of outside human-rights groups, citizen sleuths, cyber-volunteers, retired military officials, journalists, and open-source analysts with experience documenting this kind of proof in previous conflicts. More than 253,000 people have sent reports and footage of Russian forces’ movements and actions through the chatbot, according to digital ministry officials. Ukrainian officials say they’ll continue ramping up their efforts to create the most comprehensive body of digital evidence ever assembled in a modern war.
I well remember that in 2020, the government of Ukraine established an interactive digital portal where citizens could easily access services from over 50 governmnet agencies.
This system is what the "e-Enemy" war-crimes program described above is tethered to. More than 40% of the population was registered pre-invasion.