Opinion makers

Social media are the most important platform through which Ukrainian influencers communicate with their audience. Mustafa Nayyem, former journalist and currently 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.

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. 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.

There are also many oppositional influencers. The most notable one is Anatoliy Shariy, an investigative 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 1,8 million subscribers. He mostly promotes pro-Russian messages, mocks Ukrainian authorities and maintains an opinion that Ukraine is a failed state.

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, including Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s PM Volodymyr Groysman and the speaker of Ukraine’s parliament Andriy Parubiy. 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.