Mauro Voerzio during a trip to the front
Article by: Iryna Stelmakh
(This is a translation of the article Італійський активіст Майдану бореться з пропагандою Кремля: написав книжку і взявся за фільм)
Italian businessman Mauro Voerzio owns a travel agency in Kyiv. He is also a strong supporter of Ukraine, and wears his ATO zone accreditation proudly. During two months on the Maidan he accompanied Italian reporters and, as he says, shared the truth about the revolution on social media. After that he continued his trips not only to the capital of Ukraine, but also to Eastern Ukraine. Mauro Voerzio has made a series of videos from the front-lines, written articles for the Italian media, prepared the book titled “Angels of Maidan”, and he has now filmed the documentary “Maidan: 2 years after”. This is all, he says, his modest contribution into the fight against ubiquitous Russian propaganda.
– After having written the book “Angels of Maidan” you began filming a documentary. Who are your heroes and have you noticed any disappointment in the two years after those events?
– I took note of those people I spoke to to during the Maidan. Obviously, I heard both negative and positive things. It is normal to criticize in a constructive, not destructive manner. It would be madness to think that everything will change quickly and only two years after the Maidan everything would be different. You can not wipe away decades of communism at a stroke. Several generations of Ukrainians have to pass away to wipe away all the Soviet stereotypes from the nation’s DNA. However, I see great prospects for Ukraine going forward. You have very intelligent and active young people who are fighting at the front and helping here in the rear. They want to build a new country, and Ukraine will be successful with such youth.
– After Maidan you returned to Italy, but later decided to go to the front-lines? Why?
– I was in (the towns of) Pisky, Avdiyivka, Shchastya, Kurakhovo, and Maryinka. I went there to document everything that happened. I was fortunate to witness the changes that have occurred among the soldiers. At the beginning of the conflict they had great will, but do not know exactly how to act. Nowadays they have become more professional. However, it is necessary to stress that the government should seriously work on the programs for ATO veterans. I have seen very difficult conditions that warriors had to face. This can have a dramatic effect on their minds, along with the murders and deaths nearby. Now they need not only sympathy from society, but also special programs for rehabilitation and proper integration into society.
Mauro`s reportage from Pisky
– Now you are actively contributing to the Italian media and combating Russian propaganda in your country…
– Yes, because I believe that Italy is the most pro-Russian country in Europe. The main TV channels and print media outlets do not have their correspondents in Kyiv and use correspondents from Moscow. So you can imagine what a reporter based in Russia can say about Ukraine. Italy had one of the strongest communist parties in Europe, and all the leaders from that time studied in Moscow. Yet, close network of communication and relationships still exists between them, as well as significant cash flows.
Also, it is very surprising that a bunch of cultural associations with names that include one of Italy regions and the word “Russia” have appeared during the last two years in Italy. Each of these associations has one representative from the Russian Federation and also one of the most influential Italian politicians. They do not deal with cultural policy, they share propaganda. For example, president of this association in my region is Alexander Dugin. I think this fact speaks for itself.
Moreover, most of our media (almost 80%) are in the hands of pro-Russian parties. As an example I can name the popular online newspaper Limes, which published a map where Crimea was depicted as part of Russia. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Italy immediately sent a note of protest in regard of that image. However, he received an insulting reply telling him that if he does not like the image it is his problem, not the newspaper’s. I can just add that the newspaper is funded by an oil and gas company that is closely connected with the Putin regime. A few days back I published an article which described the situation and mentioned that the director of this newspaper had earlier called the Ukrainians “enemies.”
– How can you as an individual person resist this corrupt system?
– One person can not do it. Ukraine should establish and develop closer cooperation with journalists who can write about it. Cultural propaganda is an effective tool as well. You need to share your achievements and explain more about yourself. It is also important to develop tourism, because people will come here and see that there are no “Nazis” in the streets. There are just ordinary good people, great food, and beautiful nature here. Then they would return and laugh at those (Russian) propagandists. To overcome propaganda you should share more objective information about Ukraine in Europe. What propagandists fear most are informed people.
Mauro`s reportage from Mezhyhirya (a residence of former President Yanukovych)