Axel Ludwig Jacob, co-founder of MriyaReport, spoke about the outreach work he has done to support Ukraine. Analogous to a modern radio call-in broadcast, the MriyaReport, broadcast 24/7 since February 24, focuses solely on delivering information about the war in Ukraine to the world’s English-speaking population.
The MriyaReport is run by volunteers around the world who provide information and commentary around the clock so that the situation on the ground is known and accessible to everyone. For months, the Mriya Report has ranked among the top ten spaces (Twitter’s version of a radio show) at any time, in the world, in any language. The Kyiv Post chatted with him on September 22.
Full disclosure: The Kyiv Post is collaborating with the MriyaReport to conduct some of its expert interviews for stories, through MriyaReport’s platform, so that a wider audience can hear the interview in progress and submit their own questions to people interviewees and to 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 around the world can learn more about the situation in Ukraine .
How did it start?
From the first night of the invasion, Yehuda, an Orthodox Jewish businessman from Canada (we later found out he was an officer in the Canadian army) spoke on Space for entire nights. His dedication to exposing this violence and genocide has inspired dozens of us to take action.
Under his leadership, we have grown from a handful of volunteers to 35, including an IT team, a talent cell that finds the best voices to speak, plus moderators who manage the space 24/7. . His only conditions were not to seek personal funds and to commit himself to justice and freedom for all peoples. As a result, he has built a diverse community from around the world and from 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, at MriyaReport, we support Mriya Aid, a non-profit organization that has dozens of volunteers and is chaired by Canadian Lt. Col. Melanie Lake. As you know, Lieutenant-Colonel Lake was previously the Commander of Operation Unifier, the Canadian Armed Forces mission in Ukraine training Ukrainian military officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and specialists.
So that people have the context: what kind of speakers do you typically have?
We attract many like-minded people who volunteer their time and talents to help the world keep eyes on Ukraine.
As well as discussing the military and humanitarian aspects of the war – the genocide that accompanies it – we also cover topics touching on economics, logistics, history and culture. We’ve had people like Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges and Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling (both former US Army Europe commanders); Major General Mick Ryan AM (commander of the Australian Defense College) and Major General Pekka Toveri (former head of Finnish military intelligence); Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and a slew of other experts – including foreign policy researchers, elected officials, energy policy experts and even an astronaut (Cdr Scott Kelly).
We also promoted a number of Ukrainian voices, including human rights lawyer Taras Ratushnyy; Dariia Tsykunova (Ilya’s partner, an Azovstal defender imprisoned by the Russians and now freed); Alexander Kamyshin, CEO of Ukrainian Railway; Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who previously 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 money did the Mriya report raise? What kind of projects did he do with that money?
The combined Mriya Aid-focused fundraising efforts are approaching around $1 million. MriyaReport helped raise funds for hearing protection, winter clothing, bulletproof vests, tactical medicine, drones and night vision equipment – covering almost the entire length of kit needed for Ukrainians to win this war. Working closely with UAVTek, United With Ukraine, and Mriya Aid, the Fury Drone player is approaching $350,000 as a project on its own. The efforts of our volunteers are having a cascading effect and many listeners have donated to other giving races and causes featured and inspired by the MriyaReport. Just yesterday, a regular speaker and member of the Norwegian parliament, together with his crew, finalized the logistics for a delivery of 12 drones donated by Norwegian citizens to the Ukrainian Armed Forces next Sunday. We have many examples like this and MriyaReport is the space to highlight and promote such action.
What is a project you did that went well?
A member of the public from MriyaReport chose to volunteer with MriyaAid, which led to close collaboration with a defense contractor in the UK, which then led to close collaboration with Aerorozvidka (an aerial reconnaissance team and drone warfare). An initial project to deliver 10 drones has turned into a close collaboration between Mriya Aid, MriyaReport and Aerorozvidka units that provide impactful technology to the Ukrainian frontline.
Another listener, an amazing neurologist from the United States, was able to get his hospital group on board to pay for a 20-hour operation, costing millions – a reconstructive operation for a particular injured Ukrainian. Alas, the operation did not take place as the soldier had to be treated immediately due to a surprisingly rapid deterioration in his condition and could not be transported to the United States.
How do you find people to make it work 24/7? Can you / do you plan to maintain it until the end of the war?
Some listeners become our moderators. There is a singular mission: Ukraine must win. We are all here to support his mission and counter Russian misinformation, bad actors, and narratives that destroy understanding of this war. We are directly inspired by the Ukrainian people. They continue to fight for their survival, and we are with them in this fight. Yehuda was also instrumental in building the team which now operates autonomously as a decentralized team with a high level of confidence and body of mind. His composure and ability to find the good in people has motivated the team of people around the world to continue supporting and managing MriyaReport.
The Kyiv Post is now collaborating with the MriyaReport on certain aspects. Could you describe that?
Sure. The idea is that the Kyiv Post regularly interviews key decision makers. We thought it would be great for our listeners to be able to hear Post reporters interview some of these experts and also allow listeners to pose their own questions to these interviewees. It turned into a successful formula and aroused great interest. It was awesome.
Among the regulars in our space are Kyiv Post special correspondents Chuck Pfarrer (a former Navy Seal), Ivana Stradner (a Russian disinformation expert) and yourself.
How do you manage to keep up with a normal life and day job while managing all of this?
Wartime is not normal time, so we cannot maintain normal life. We do it just as much as our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. What is normal in genocide? Nothing is normal, is the answer, and it requires each of us to step up and rise to the occasion. Luckily, there are nearly 40 million people to show us the exact example of how it’s done, so we’re following their leaps and bounds. Ukraine is fighting for all of us so that we can continue to live a free life, with a basic public and common good shared by all.
Do you think this can really affect Ukraine’s foreign policy or actions?
We had a huge buy-in from government guys behind the scenes. They asked for details, information and contacts. We gladly provide them with all the information we have, but yes, we have a significant number of listeners who work in high political positions in Western Europe and the Americas.
What challenges did you encounter in this information space?
We have always been very careful not to 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 weeded out.
What do you expect someone who comes to your space to leave? Or do otherwise?
Our main hope is that people who join our space on Twitter @mriyareport will be inspired as we have to do the rightest thing of our century. There is clarity in the pure evil that follows the Russian occupation. We see these results. We encounter the horrors on every road, neighborhood, community, village, town and city liberated from occupation. Listeners will experience the depth, compassion and spirit of the Ukrainian people. Their culture, their global impact, will no longer be hidden and whitewashed by Russia. Their contribution to the world will be understood. We are here to amplify its people, its culture and the absolute and clear good that Ukraine brings to this world. The Spotify account serves as a repository of 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 reclaim all of its sovereign territory. The darkest hour may yet come, but it’s also darkest before sunrise.
MriyaReport broadcasts 24/7 on Twitter and some broadcasts are featured on Spotify. To listen on Twitter, search @MriyaReport