Opinion makers

Social media are the most important platform through which Ukrainian influencers communicate with their audience. Mustafa Nayyem, a former journalist and former MP, is one of the most important influencers - his post in Facebook kicked off the Euromaidan. Nowadays Nayyem poses himself as a reformer and writes a lot about political and societal issues on the agenda. He is also rather active on Twitter and on Instagram. As of May 2020, Mustafa Nayyem worked in the state concern Ukroboronprom and was responsible for GR there.

However, the most popular influencer in Ukraine is Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the leader of Okean Elzy (Ocean of Elza) rock-band. Since Euromaidan, Vakarchuk has been writing a lot about politics and society and has some 2,000,000 followers on Twitter. Vakarchuk has also been one of the top-polling candidates for Ukraine’s president, until the moment when he announced that he would not be running. In 2019, he led Golos party and held 20 deputies in the Ukrainian parliament (out of 424 seats, another 26 seats have remained empty since 2015 - there should be representatives of Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia).

Another unexpected influencer is Volodymyr Zelenskyi, a Ukrainian comedian and producer and the leader of Kvartal 95 (District 95) comedic group which does a satiric show about politics and society hosted by 1+1 TV channel. All their products resonate with a wide public, which results in support for Zelenskiy.In 2019, Ukrainians elected Zelensky as president of Ukraine, he was also able to hold 248 of his supporters from the party “Servant of the People” in the parliament and form the so-called “mono-majority”. His party appointed the government. For the first time in the 28-year history of Ukraine, the president, the majority in parliament, and the government were representatives of one political group.

There are also many oppositional influencers. The most notable one is Anatoliy Shariy, a contradictory journalist turned video blogger. He has sought asylum in the European Union claiming persecution by Ukrainian law enforcement bodies in 2012. His YouTube channel has 2,33 million subscribers. He mostly promotes pro-Russian messages, mocks Ukrainian authorities and maintains an opinion that Ukraine is a failed state. In 2019, Shariy’s party took part in the elections in Ukraine for the first time, it gained 2.23% of the vote and thus it did not overcome the 5% barrier to parliament.

The government and politicians try to be influencers as well. Each ministry and top officials have social media representation, mainly on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. These social media pages are often a preferred way to publish statements on issues of public concern, and they make it into the information space being quoted by media.