Propagandists in Chatroulette: "Elderly Russians can't even be helped by doctors"

Mykhailo Medvedev, a Ukrainian originally from the Cherkassy region, has long lived in Poland and is studying internet marketing.

Propagandists in Chatroulette: "Elderly Russians can't even be helped by doctors"

Mykhailo Medvedev, a Ukrainian originally from the Cherkassy region, has long lived in Poland and is studying internet marketing. Shortly after the invasion, he volunteered and developed an unusual hobby, which he now uses to raise money for the Ukrainian army: Medvedev exposes Russian propagandists on Chatroulette and then publishes the conversations on his YouTube channel Zomboyashchik TV. He tells what he is talking about with the Russians. How did you come up with the idea of ​​exposing Russians on Chatroulette?

Mykhailo Medvedev: Above all, I wanted to know who believes in the "special operation" and who doesn't. Because when I watch the news, they say that all Russians support Putin and the "special operation". It doesn't matter whether it's Ukrainian or Polish news. There is propaganda in every country, but you can't believe everything. So I thought I'd check it out.

And how did it go?

Russian is not my mother tongue, so I have a slight accent. In the beginning I was turned away ten times because they realized I wasn't Russian. At first I didn't want to create any content for YouTube. I just wanted to know what the Russians think. Then I decided to speak Polish and put in difficult Russian words so Russians could understand me.

Russians were so happy that they understood Polish but for some reason they didn't understand that I put Russian words in and that was funny. I posted this video on TikTok. Then people wrote to me that I should do more. So I decided to change the subject and re-educate Russians: I'll give them trusted sources from which to learn the truth.

When did you shoot the first videos?

I published the first one on TikTok at the end of March. In August my main account was deleted but I restored it.

So you didn't blog before the invasion?

No, I had a normal life before that.

During the live stream you collect donations for the Ukrainian army and also in Poland you do voluntary work for Ukrainian refugees. How did that happen?

First I registered on February 24, 2022 on the website of a Polish volunteer organization in Warsaw. We received refugees in the Palace of Culture the next morning, but only for three days, because for some reason not Ukrainians, but taxi drivers or other unknown people came to eat for free. So we moved our vantage point to the train station so we could see that they really are refugees. I volunteered for two months and also sent humanitarian aid to my homeland of Cherkassy several times.

Are there already any fans of your YouTube channel? Do people come up to you and take photos?

Yes, even here in Warsaw, which is very strange. Especially when I go somewhere where there are a lot of people or where there are a lot of Ukrainians. My audience on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube is 48 percent Ukrainian, 10 percent Russian, 7 percent Polish. About 10,000 people follow me from Warsaw.

With Chatroulette, do you choose a topic for the conversation each time or do you decide spontaneously what to talk about?

That depends on the events in Ukraine. When the Russians bombed Dnipro, I spoke to them about it. I also often come across Russian propaganda bloggers. I tell them to name a topic that we are talking about. Conversations with civilians aren't that interesting because they don't know Russian laws and just believe everything the authorities tell them. That's why they often just keep quiet and switch off. Knowledgeable people or bloggers keep the conversation going longer, but when they run out of facts they just say: The whole world is against us.

What questions do you ask them?

I give bloggers the opportunity to ask their questions. Then I lead them down a blind alley where they can embarrass themselves with their own ignorance of the Constitution and commonly accepted documents. I once asked an old man about biolabs and mosquitoes. At that time, propaganda was spread in Russia that mosquitoes that attack Russians were being produced in biological laboratories in Ukraine. This old man believed in it so much. When I asked him how the mosquitoes knew who to attack, he said that they had been injected with something and that's why they don't bite Ukrainians. I've also seen with my own eyes that some people don't know how to use a kettle.

Who are these people in the chat? What do you do for a living?

Most are propaganda bloggers. I think that if they convince someone of their propaganda, they make videos like me and get paid for it. When I meet them in chat, I tell them straight away: You won't get a video from me! Then I show them some official document that Russia attacked Ukraine and they first try to prove otherwise and when they run out of arguments they shut down. Because they don't get paid for that. I also often meet doctors, entrepreneurs or construction workers.

In some videos you also talk to Russians who have been living in Germany for many years. How do they react?

If I meet such Russian Germans or German Russians, I immediately ask: "Do you support the 'special operation'?" At first they answered, but now they are afraid and remain silent. Because some have been fined for their statements, they fear they will be deported.

Where do you get the patience to talk to people who believe in Russian propaganda?

When I talk to them, I imagine I'm talking to vegetables or a wall. I don't take a word seriously. My main job is to use the videos to raise money for the guys in the armed forces and show them how stupid these Russian propagandists are - or convince someone they're wrong.

Do the Russians really not see what is going on?

Of course, there are stupid people who just blindly believe Vladimir Putin. But it is easy to convince the younger population in particular of the opposite. You can't prove anything to the elderly. They believe they came to save the Ukrainians. Even doctors can't help them, it's a morasmus [a disease caused by malnutrition].

And how many Russians have you convinced?

That is hard to say. It could be about 10 percent of the 2,000 people I spoke to. These are the people who say, "Okay, I'll do better research, maybe you're right." We will still need these people in the future because they use their heads. That's why I don't post their videos on YouTube.

You have already uploaded more than 200 videos to your channel. What do you want to do next?

I want to show the Russians they are wrong. I also want as many people as possible to see their lies, propaganda and Russian culture. Because I am watched by people from Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, but also from Russia, Georgia and Poland. Under the video there are also comments from Germans who write that they used to learn Russian. I want to show that the truth lies with Ukraine, not Russia.

What are your plans after the war?

I could keep making the same content and filming this stupidity of Russians for the rest of my life because I fear it will never end.

Mit Mykhailo Medvedev spoke to Maryna Bratchyk