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The Fight of Our Lives - Iuliia Mendel

Last updated Feb 23, 2024


# Metadata

# Highlights



December 5, 1994: Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances. The memorandum prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States from threatening or using military force or economic coercion against Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, “except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.” (Location 26)

February 24, 2022: Russia invades Ukraine. Multipronged offensives are launched from Russia, Belarus, and the two occupied territories of Ukraine (Crimea and Donbas). (Location 48)


It endured and outlasted temporary rule by invading powers, many attempting to suppress and dominate our people. Though these empires are long gone, traces of them remain in our unique Ukrainian culture, in our proud identity as a multiethnic, multireligious European nation. (Location 59)

We are a proud people with a stubborn will to endure as a free, independent country. (Location 61)

# PREFACE “I Need Ammunition, Not a Ride”

Vladimir Putin’s “special operation to denazify Ukraine” had begun at 4: 00 a.m., reminiscent of the German invasion of Ukraine during World War II on June 22, 1941, which started at the same time. (Location 71)

Our small studio apartment was located in the leafy southern part of the city in a student area with big apartment blocks. (Location 85)

he had waited to bring me to safety in Lviv before he told me what he felt he must do. (Location 98)

Having amassed more than 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders in the previous ten months (Location 109)

little had been communicated to our citizens about what to do in the event the Russians actually invaded. (Location 116)

I had seen his courage when I had accompanied him on trips to visit soldiers on the front lines in Donbas, during the ongoing conflict there. He would insist on going to the most forward, dangerous positions, to chat with soldiers and shake their hands as the shells landed nearby. (Location 119)

The comment ricocheted around the globe, galvanized Ukrainians, and earned the world’s admiration. (Location 123)

It was a monumental achievement after seventy years of Communist rule. For me, it meant that, suddenly, overnight, I no longer had to grow up with limited choices. Instead, I could believe that anything was possible, if I was willing to work hard. (Location 160)

Holodomor, a Soviet state-sponsored famine in the 1930s that killed millions, (Location 170)

Psychologists Carol Dweck and Lauren Howe at Stanford University have written about the “trauma of the rejected”: how, after rejection, a person may question his or her own right to exist. (Location 176)

Ukrainians resemble those timid pupils. Our lack of confidence is in response to the numerous attempts to erase Ukraine as a nation. The time has come for us to have faith in ourselves. (Location 179)

David-and-Goliath struggle for freedom and democracy. (Location 191)

# CHAPTER 1 Zelenskyy’s Landslide Victory

He was wearing a tie and a light gray suit— things I knew him to almost never wear in real life. (Location 204)

perfectionism that he had shown in his past TV production work, asking his team to shoot scenes over and over again, was now evident in how he oversaw our office’s output of news, photos, and videos (Location 211)

Western partners. They always grumbled about providing the next tranche of funding to Ukraine, but they knew that they could not abandon a country of forty million people in the heart of Europe. (Location 221)

Becoming more like Europe remained beyond reach for us without European-style politicians. (Location 256)

The political elite had long since become rotten, and a change of faces changed nothing. (Location 258)

for Western observers, Ukraine was identified with the peasantry and remained in their minds a post-Soviet province. (Location 270)

It was art imitating life and life imitating art at the same time, (Location 278)

The TV show aired weekly, right up to the election, and it functioned as a showcase for Zelenskyy’s political ideas. (Location 279)

he wanted her to be there with him at those crucial moments, his partner in all things. (Location 287)

He also learned what it meant to debate in public without a teleprompter, a skill he soon mastered, thanks to his many years of stage experience. (Location 292)

I observed among my family members that Zelenskyy aroused feelings of compassion— an almost parental desire to protect him. (Location 296)

We all wanted to live better. And if not better, then at least we wanted to live with hope, not without it. (Location 317)

These social media stratagems manipulate our greatest fears and historical traumas; they elicit painful emotions and secretly inflate them with the intent of aggressively turning one group in society against another. (Location 329)

In Ukraine in 2019, the themes used to divide people were patriotism, language, and the question of whether to side with Western Europe or Russia in the continent’s ongoing conflicts. (Location 333)

In Ukraine, people were fed up with the kinds of controversies that almost all the country’s political forces had deliberately stirred up since 2002. These strategies were devastatingly familiar to us— we didn’t have a single political campaign in which attempts were not made to divide Ukrainians. (Location 340)

# CHAPTER 2 The Poorest Country in Europe

This will be morally complicated. This will be uncomfortable for me, I will not hide that; it will depress me. But depression and discomfort will not influence my decisions. I will bury all of that inside me; there must be reforms. We have a chance. (Location 351)

Poverty means being unable to pay for an education, or a home, or clothing, or food, or to travel to other places and experience the world. To be poor is to be trapped in your confined world without the ability to learn something new or develop as a person. (Location 355)

Every person has two wings; one is physical, the other is spiritual. If a person is not utilizing the first, the physical, by working, the second, too, will be unable to function. Without the second wing, you won’t fly far on just one. (Location 361)

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, there were no organized sports, so there was little else to do but fight other adolescents. (Location 366)

Even as an adult, and now as president, he still felt the need to prove to them that he was doing the right thing. (Location 377)

To some degree, their opposition to material goods was part of an intergenerational conflict that was widespread in post-Soviet families. (Location 382)

He was a meritocrat by nature and relentless about proving himself. (Location 392)

Olena had to browbeat acquaintances to come to those first student performances (Location 398)

He was a perfectionist during rehearsals, making the actors repeat their lines over and over again until they were flawless. (Location 404)

The deck was stacked against up-and-comers from the provinces, even though, after the fall of the Soviet Union, these provinces were no longer provinces but independent nations. (Location 419)

he could not imagine abandoning his team. He returned with them to Ukraine to build his production company there. (Location 428)

he worked as a producer for Inter, the biggest TV channel in Ukraine; created many movies and TV series; and became the beloved voice of Paddington Bear in the films, musicals, and cartoons. (Location 436)

Zelenskyy won accolades as a dancer in pairs competitions. (Location 437)

Zelenskyy’s humor always included a frontal attack on corrupt politicians and on social injustice. (Location 441)

Zelenskyy’s humor was targeted to a popular audience. In fact, Kvartal 95 relied on burlesque and often on raunchy humor. (Location 446)

The songs Zelenskyy and his troupe sang at the end of their show usually made people tear up with feelings of love for their homeland and pride in their nationality. (Location 453)

And right after that line, Zelenskyy assumed the role of Kabaeva herself, dressed all in pink and angry at the Russian president for coming home late. (Location 457)

Kvartal 95 made Zelenskyy a star. But it also gave him the opportunity to grow as a leader and a manager (Location 463)

Zelenskyy was also regularly invited to perform for private audiences— it was a way to earn money in the entertainment industry— and in doing that, he met a lot of powerful people, including politicians and tycoons. (Location 464)

It was true he had learned how to make a decent living for himself and his family, but could he help all Ukrainians do the same? (Location 475)

Honcharuk’s technocratic nature made it difficult for him to connect with people. (Location 487)

Zelenskyy drank endless cups of coffee and didn’t seem to need much sleep. Rising very early, he was in the habit of making work calls between 6: 00 and 7: 00 a.m. (Location 504)

One thing Zelenskyy did every day, everywhere he went, almost without exception was exercise. (Location 508)

In Ukraine, there are many religions, though Christianity has the largest number of adherents. (Location 526)

President Zelenskyy asked the minister of health at the time, Zoryana Skaletska, if she would quarantine herself in the resort for two weeks with the returnees from China (Location 539)

As a political manager, he had yet to learn to walk the line between making excuses and explaining what was happening. (Location 558)

One of Zelenskyy’s biggest problems was the lack of people with the necessary expertise and experience. (Location 560)

a crucial vote in late March to lift the moratorium on buying and selling farmland in Ukraine, which up till then could only be inherited (Location 591)

By the end of 2020, there was not a single politician in Ukraine anywhere close to Zelenskyy in terms of popularity. (Location 639)

# CHAPTER 3 Becoming Press Secretary to the President

in our part of the world it is often considered a sign of narcissism or, worse, an act of political provocation. That is how my post-Soviet generation was brought up for decades, still under the influence of the values of the USSR (Location 642)

Fear, obedience, monotony— but it was something that I naturally and intuitively could not accept. (Location 658)

I would recommend visiting the regional hospital, where my mom and dad work, and grabbing five at a time. (Location 663)

In the spring of 2022, I planned to go to Kherson with the intention of feeding these tart cakes to my fiancé, Pavlo, as part of an introduction to my childhood. (Location 664)

My mother gave all the money she had for these lessons— in the early 1990s, they cost an unbelievable amount: $ 5 an hour. (Location 682)

The war changed us, revealing our ideals and talents. (Location 723)

I don’t know about the rest of Poland, but at the end of 2014, Poles in Gdańsk viewed Ukraine as a heroic country. (Location 737)

I had never been really interested in any career for its own sake. I simply tried to do the best I could in each job I had, taking every opportunity to learn as much as possible. (Location 742)

We did live broadcasts from our phones and carried the equipment for them in little blue backpacks. (Location 760)

After the 2014 Revolution of Dignity, Yanukovych went into exile in Russia, and his house was turned into a museum of corruption. (Location 773)

The article took about two months to research, and I uncovered some interesting stuff. (Location 778)

Everyone would be better off if the system could be made more formal and transparent, so that instead of paying bribes, people [would] pay taxes and the state could fund services,” Orttung added. “Of course, few want to pay taxes because they do not trust the state to provide good services.” (Location 799)

My professor was told that if he didn’t agree to sue to “recover his honor and dignity,” he would be fired. So he sued. (Location 810)

each of us should fight for our values any way we can. (Location 813)

it still was not professional enough. So, I started reading English texts out loud, talked to foreign friends, and tried to answer my own questions in front of a mirror. (Location 818)

Thread, Yale University’s four-day storytelling workshop for professional journalists in various media, including print, video, podcasting, photography, and other hybrid forms, sponsored by the Yale Journalism Initiative. (Location 821)

I was an adult with friends and contacts, with a lot of experience and an established reputation. (Location 829)

the symbol of the Revolution of Dignity, which groups of far-right nationalists and provocateurs were now using for various purposes, mostly to discredit revolutionary values on Russian TV channels and to paint a picture of a radical, violent Ukraine. (Location 846)

a human resources company, a headhunter, called me the next day, on Saturday afternoon, and questioned me about my qualifications, my vision for the country, my motivation, and my willingness to work around the clock. (Location 904)

the next round, where I had to prepare a text and video with greetings to Ukrainians for May 8, the Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War, (Location 906)

About seven or eight people, including the president, subjected me to a stress test, playing the roles of media sharks. (Location 913)

the president, raised as a Russian speaker, spoke with me in Ukrainian and tested my English as well. (Location 916)

the team decided that it was unnecessary to tell anyone before I appeared at my first press briefing. (Location 922)

# CHAPTER 4 The President’s Team

Zelenskyy looked for people who were honest and loyal and who had a desire to make the country better. (Location 982)

Politics depended on the human factor even more than on a film set. And there was not the same level of obedience to the director. (Location 984)

he was a workaholic and was insistent on maximizing efficiency, focused on getting as much done as possible. (Location 1032)

The first year, when we did not yet have a streamlined work system, I slept only three or four hours a night. (Location 1033)

sometimes politicians or advisers paid for their own flights if their roles were not that important, but they wanted to be part of a delegation to cultivate international contacts. (Location 1045)

At age twenty-eight, Mykhailo Fedorov became the youngest minister in the history of Ukraine, taking over the Ministry of Digital Transformation and building the whole digital infrastructure of the country. (Location 1052)

the use of digitalization as a tool for fighting corruption: “Digitalisation can disrupt corruption by reducing discretion, increasing transparency, and enabling accountability by dematerialising services and limiting human interactions. Furthermore, it allows for more effective oversight by smarter accountability institutions and data-savvy civil society.” (Location 1070)

it is now possible to get married online, and registering a new business takes a few hours on the phone (Location 1073)

Three Telegram channels were particularly influential among the political elite and earned a lot of money simply on the strength of a rumor that the president was reading them. Businessmen and politicians were paying writers around $ 1,000 for an absurd one-to-two-hundred-word report in order “to be read by the president” and thus try to influence his decision-making. (Location 1092)

Ukraine is famous for having 25 to 30 percent of the world’s most fertile black soil, and 70 percent of its land is agricultural. (Location 1109)

a “one voice” policy, a practice drawn from management consulting, was instituted across the entire government. (Location 1128)

# CHAPTER 5 Seeking Peace in Donbas

frequent trips to Donbas: eighteen in 2019– 2020. He spent every military holiday in Donbas. (Location 1179)

Poroshenko’s love for the Ukrainian language was as hypocritical as his patriotism. He considered Russian-speaking Ukrainians unpatriotic and enacted a law just after he lost the 2019 election declaring that all civil servants, soldiers, doctors, and teachers must speak Ukrainian, which antagonized Russian speakers and was a particularly sensitive issue in the Russian-speaking areas of the country near Donbas. (Location 1194)

He placed all responsibility for the war in Donbas on Putin, but at the same time, he became friends with Putin’s crony and representative in Ukraine, Viktor Medvedchuk. (Location 1201)

Paradoxically, while purporting to distance himself from Russia, Poroshenko did everything possible to adopt its mindset. For the five long years of his administration, Ukraine seemed to be staring into a Russian looking glass. (Location 1204)

By deciding to introduce Russian methods of manipulation, fake news, and counterpropaganda into Ukraine to counteract Russian disinformation, Poroshenko and his government partially discredited themselves as a reliable partner in the eyes of the world. (Location 1207)

In the eight years since the first Russian invasion in 2014, Ukrainian journalists had developed many successful independent media projects that reached millions. (Location 1214)

Macron’s political ambition was to become the leader of the new Europe, (Location 1249)

history doesn’t pat you on the head, it hits you when you don’t expect it to. (Location 1265)

Zelenskyy viewed the Ukrainian people themselves as the most important ally in achieving peace. (Location 1267)

we have a “smuggling of ideologies” from neighboring Russia, which it injects into the hearts and minds of people (Location 1272)

He spoke from the heart, expressing pain for his country, where Ukrainian citizens were dying almost every day in the war in the eastern region of Donbas. (Location 1325)

concrete negotiating positions. He wouldn’t let them off the hook. As soon as he realized that they were trying to shelve some important issue for Ukraine, he took the floor and said, “Let’s do it again.” (Location 1326)

there is only one way to describe Putin: “old age.” No matter how much I looked at him and his delegation, no matter how much I listened, everything about them conveyed old age: old ideology, old principles, old behavior, old thoughts. His entire team seemed hopelessly outdated. (Location 1331)

During the negotiations, Putin kept his head down most of the time. He clearly felt uncomfortable. (Location 1335)

For a very long time, Putin had been refining his image as a KGB thug, and then as a dictator and a monster capable of the horrors of mass murder and war. (Location 1348)

Putin knew how to give orders, but he didn’t know how to negotiate. (Location 1350)

For more than two decades, no one had contradicted him, nor had anyone been willing to bring him bad news. This made Putin a weak negotiator. Instead, he used only blackmail and various instruments of war to negotiate. (Location 1352)

Peace means everything to him. Only with peace can he focus on rebuilding his nation. (Location 1354)

# CHAPTER 6 The Press vs. the President

He forced a far more experienced opponent to respond to his straightforward talk and clever pokes. (Location 1393)

For his first eight months or so in office, President Zelenskyy enjoyed the usual postelection honeymoon. (Location 1395)

It can even be said that this period led Zelenskyy to fall into the easiest trap for a novice politician: flushed with the overconfidence of victory, he developed blind spots, momentarily forgetting that any democratically elected leader can be defeated later. (Location 1397)

the old political story that the team that got you elected may not be the best team to govern the country. (Location 1404)

The higher-ups were businessmen who didn’t understand that a president whose popularity hinged on his rejection of the old political system must be accessible and accountable. And in a democracy, that accountability comes from the press. Transparency is everything. (Location 1446)

The notion that remaining strong and silent is the only route to effective leadership has become outdated since the advent of online media. (Location 1453)

The one place, however, where silence really was the best option was in the delicate diplomatic negotiations involving people’s lives. (Location 1457)

Russia is a very difficult negotiating partner. For the most part, it manipulates and pressures, demands and blackmails. (Location 1475)

Anonymous Telegram channels, a preferred method of distributing disinformation among the Russian tradecraft set (Location 1481)

Russia aimed to show how fragile our information space was and how ill-equipped our new leadership was to deal with the unconventional, digital warfare machine it had been perfecting for a decade. (Location 1486)

Disappointment did not set in at once, but it did slowly transform into public animosity toward the Office of the President. (Location 1490)

today’s world requires a full portfolio of options in response to disinformation. (Location 1503)

Zelenskyy grew fond of receiving raw data from various people within his orbit as president, gathering and analyzing that information for himself and then very often coming up with a decision that no one else had thought of. In a culture like Ukraine’s, one playing host to a generational shift from oligarchy to democracy, it was crucial to do so in order to leave behind old assumptions about our people and capabilities. (Location 1506)

# CHAPTER 7 The Negotiator

Politics is like bad cinema— people overact, take it too far. (Location 1599)

In the years I worked for him, he regularly requested that any traces of self-pity or pathos be removed from his texts and speeches. (Location 1614)

Language, after all, is not merely a means of communication. Shared language is a sign of a shared history, a common past, and a set of common values to call upon. (Location 1625)

rather than dwell on Poroshenko’s attacks, Zelenskyy deliberately focused on the importance of institutional continuity, one of the most significant hallmarks of a strong state. (Location 1632)

He would reiterate his arguments again and again, often animatedly, using new vocabulary and introducing additional support (Location 1636)

Invincible persistence and an enterprising attitude about achieving his goals were embedded in his character. (Location 1641)

Truly strong nations value life; this alone is the secret of our indestructibility. (Location 1683)

Both Ukrainians and our president were well aware that the main negotiator in this war was the Ukrainian army and the civilians who fought alongside it. (Location 1696)

Russia understood only power. (Location 1699)

# CHAPTER 8 The Power of Language

We will not allow the Russian language to be privatized or given away. (Location 1704)

(about 76 percent of citizens speak Ukrainian as their first language and about 18 percent speak Russian as theirs, as well as a small percentage of regional languages) (Location 1708)

he wanted to deprive Russia of its claim on the Russian language. He also wanted to stop making the speaking of Russian in Ukraine a political issue. (Location 1741)

my parents’ way of speaking has the distinctive stress and phonetic elements that make it easy to recognize Khersonians when they speak in Russian. (Location 1761)

I was born when they were still students. As they had to live in a student hostel in Zaporizhzhia until they completed their degrees, I spent my first years in Oleksandrivka, a village in Kherson province, where I lived with my maternal grandparents. In Ukrainian villages, the language was so rich. There was an incredible mélange, full of energy, of freedom and wisdom, of practicality and wit. (Location 1764)

I worked on my assignments till late every night. My days off were filled with wrapping up unfinished work and planning for the new week. I began to understand that success came from working a lot, (Location 1813)

Instead of three or four exams, I was required to have only one oral interview, along with the other top graduates from other schools in Ukraine. Of the twenty high school graduates who were granted interviews instead of exams, I was the only one who passed. (Location 1817)

my teacher once said to us: “They can’t let in everyone just for money. They also need smart people to represent their university.” (Location 1826)

I was able to get a superb free education and become successful because I worked hard and my parents supported me. But it had never been easy. I could not fully process the experience until I was able to work through a certain amount of psychological trauma. (Location 1837)

Moldova had experienced its own “Donbas” in the early 1990s and had still not recovered from it. (Location 1841)

Russia incited discord over language differences in order to wrest Russian-speaking territories away from newly independent countries, turning them back into occupied territories and creating black holes in the post-Soviet space. (Location 1842)

By moving its army or its surrogates into parts of post-Soviet countries, Moscow tried to preserve its presence there, using these territories for geopolitical influence and to interfere in their domestic policies. (Location 1855)

Russia had inundated Moldova with propaganda and post-Soviet fears about “dangerous” Ukrainians from the start of the Revolution of Dignity. People heard these stories in the news and then spread them among themselves. (Location 1862)

Russia has always been adept at instilling fear, the strongest of human emotions. (Location 1877)

Such “education” was a great tool of control in this territory: it was incredibly difficult to escape from the region with nothing but the knowledge of this half-baked language. (Location 1885)

these children felt no ideological aggression toward each other. They didn’t even think about war or defending their national interests. My impression was that they had lost their ability to see how unacceptable their circumstances had become. (Location 1897)

Gazprom tried to collect the money Tiraspol owed for gas from Chişinău’s pockets. (Location 1917)

Russia is well practiced in using energy as a weapon of geopolitical influence and control. Chişinău’s debts, paid or not, remained an ever-present Russian threat to the Moldovan people. (Location 1920)

Ukraine and Moldova had four years of frozen relations, from 2016 to 2020, (Location 1926)

Olena Zelenska worked with major museums across the globe to get Ukrainian added to audio guides. (Location 1941)

Ukrainian evolved from Old East Slavic, breaking off from it over a thousand years ago. Russian is another, distinct branch of Old East Slavic. (Location 1945)

Ukrainian citizens today include ethnic Romanians, Belarusians, Crimean Tatars, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Poles, Jews, Armenians, and Russians. (Location 1950)

In cyberspace, many Russian-speaking influencers in Ukraine have deliberately switched to Ukrainian, because they now associate Russian with the language of terrorism and Ukrainian with the language of freedom and democracy. (Location 1961)

# CHAPTER 9 Oligarchs and Fake News

Merkel was distinguished by her exceptional simplicity and grace. People talked about her composure in delivering public speeches, where she always spoke plainly, which was true, but I think the most important of all her qualities was the ability to remain a real person. (Location 1989)

offering a handshake to every delegation member at high-level meetings, bestowing the gift of respect with her gaze. (Location 1995)

She had a lively interest in every detail and had mastered her brief. She did not hide her surprise if something was mentioned that she did not already know, and while always maintaining the professional demeanor of a politician, she expressed a certain kindness to individuals she liked. (Location 2000)

She quickly went around the room and shook everyone’s hand and looked them in the eye, (Location 2007)

no honor, position, amount of money, or accomplishment can prompt a real leader to forget how to treat another person respectfully. (Location 2010)

Looking over our team with an experienced eye, she could see that Zelenskyy was telling the truth and decided to trust him. (Location 2021)

I wrote to the president, urging him to issue a single, simple statement (Location 2036)

Because they had a monopoly on most businesses, the oligarchs were responsible for creating the majority of jobs in Ukraine, and they employed and cultivated relationships with the country’s professional elites. (Location 2051)

The oligarchs, in response to any attempts to curb them or what they viewed as unsatisfactory decisions on the part of the authorities, would unleash floods of negative or even fake news through the most popular media platforms they controlled. They would also shut down their own enterprises in retaliatory fashion, with resulting job losses. (Location 2053)

Zelenskyy wanted to implement sorely needed business-based methods of efficiency and flexibility in the public sector. (Location 2061)

those who were able to meet the rigorous new standards were soon promoted to positions with more responsibility. Suddenly, it became clear that hardworking, smart people with no connections could make it to the top. (Location 2067)

In 2018, the independent Ukrainian media outlet Novoe Vremya observed that the richest one hundred Ukrainians grew their wealth “12 times faster than the country’s GDP is growing. (Location 2096)

When Zelenskyy was sworn in, he had to make more than one political compromise to ensure that the oligarchs would not cut his presidency off at the root. (Location 2105)

the first legal definition of an oligarch: a major monopolist with a fortune of over $ 80 million who has influence over politics and the media. (Location 2127)

It is not just a decision of law enforcement officers to imprison someone. I am not against imprisoning anyone who breaks the law. But others will come instead of these. Therefore, it is necessary to change this process at the legislative level. (Location 2170)

They pretend to be open to other opinions by inviting someone on the air, but then they simply hound the person. (Location 2185)

When she began to speak, she was interrupted by the other “experts” onstage. At times the hosts and engineers even muffled her microphone to prevent her from presenting her perspectives or defending herself against accusations. She was silenced so that her arguments would not be heard and outweigh the propaganda. After the broadcast, the hosts became nice again and invited her to dinner, then smilingly asked her not to get angry, saying, “We’re just doing our job, you know.” (Location 2188)

The story bore all the hallmarks of everyday Russian disinformation: chauvinistic, below-the-belt, personal innuendo with not a sliver of evidence or truth. (Location 2195)

Once the 2022 war started, many oligarchs, including Akhmetov, Pinchuk, and Kolomoyskyy, among others, at least publicly threw their support behind the president. (Location 2239)

# CHAPTER 10 Learning to Live in a Democracy

The old men looked at the videographer with surprise and indignation, but the president walked over to the broken object, bent down, and picked up the fragments. It was one of those moments when we saw the president’s common decency and simplicity— very important aspects of his character. (Location 2257)

he wanted to insert his own vision and his own side of the story into an information space that was immature, unregulated, and without rules or boundaries. (Location 2276)

It was easy, we found, to create a convincing picture when the people who orchestrated the protests had their own television channels and were able to cover the events from an angle that would best advance their agenda. (Location 2278)

The taxes on a new car in Ukraine were one and a half to two times more than, for example, in the EU. To get around the taxes, many foreign-registered used cars were brought into Ukraine, supposedly for temporary use by foreigners. But in fact, the vehicles were the unregistered property of Ukrainian citizens for personal use, resale, or disassembly for parts, imported without paying customs duties. (Location 2314)

we needed to not only study literary, mathematical, and technical subjects, but also learn how to become the nation and country that, as Ukrainian citizens, we would all like to be. (Location 2327)

Freedom presents the possibility of opening up and learning, of building a just and civilized society for everyone; therefore, freedom by definition always has boundaries and precise rules. (Location 2330)

However much I, a prim young girl, did not want to admit it, the examples my teacher cited were true. (Location 2341)

we learned that democracy has to be nurtured and cherished or else it will wither and die. A country like ours needs decades to learn the rules and habits of democracy, including mutual respect for our differences as well as accepting the bonds of our commonality as Ukrainians. (Location 2344)

truth-telling binds us all together (Location 2353)

# CHAPTER 11 Disinformation Wars

We forget that information weapons have long been more powerful in the world than nuclear arms, because they are not banned. (Location 2367)

For more than a decade, former Soviet bloc countries have played an important and disturbing role in developing bot and troll farms. (Location 2373)

Many people rely on social media for all their news. (Location 2378)

For Russia, the internet has been an important source of contemporary propaganda, and its use of the internet is analogous to the methods the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels developed in the 1930s on the radio and in newspapers. (Location 2392)

Hundreds of “experts” in Japanese protocol, who were really paid political bloggers (they earn from $ 150 to $ 500 or even more sometimes for their posts), (Location 2410)

Then controlled online media outlets published short, sensationalized news pieces on this same topic, reaching a wide audience. At that point, supposedly independent media saw that the topic had gone viral and published pieces about how the first couple was being criticized. (Location 2415)

exactly the formula that I told you: bots, so-called experts, fake media, sensationalized media, respected media… (Location 2427)

it is clear that long before its recent invasion the Kremlin was already preparing its platforms for war. (Location 2467)

“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as ‘users,’ one is of course IT, the other is the illegal drug trade.” (Location 2469)

the group was told to place information “inserts” aimed at inciting ethnic hatred in mass text messages containing threats to residents of one district of the Zakarpattya region, where many ethnic Hungarians live. Not surprisingly, this helped Hungary’s authoritarian leadership justify its support of Russia in the 2022 war on Ukraine, and its pro-Putin prime minister, Viktor Orbán, won reelection by a large margin to an unprecedented fourth term in April 2022. (Location 2485)

Russian negotiators even absurdly demanded “denazification” of Ukraine during the peace talks, in perfect agreement with the bots and trolls. (Location 2500)

# CHAPTER 12 The Fight of Our Lives

Zelenskyy had continued to broadcast a video every day to raise morale and keep the people of Ukraine informed of what was happening in the war. (Location 2515)

The Russians delivered humanitarian aid several times, but almost no one took it. (Location 2529)

Mariupol’s situation was a grim reminder of 1933, when Stalin’s state-induced famine, the Holodomor, raged in Ukraine. (Location 2546)

in 1994 we had given up our nuclear arsenal— the third largest in the world— in exchange for security guarantees from the United States, the U.K., and Russia, which included the promise to respect our territorial integrity. (Location 2574)

Murderous dictators, like terrorists and hostage takers, make decisions regardless of argument or logic. (Location 2586)

The war clearly divided reality into good and evil. There were no shades of gray. (Location 2604)

It’s a tough and dangerous experience, but on the front lines all senses are heightened and all unnecessary things fall away. The voice in my head went silent, and I was very focused, with all my senses sharpened. When the danger passed and my mind calmed down, I felt good. (Location 2643)

We weren’t yet married, but that was Pavlo’s way of showing me what I meant to him. It was the most emotional moment of my life. (Location 2647)

Through intense pain and sacrifice, it has brought back our understanding of our own value, made us see the good that we can create from unwavering unity and courage and from caring for one another. We have seen the immense power that we derive from learning to work together as a people and a nation. (Location 2653)

The spirit of freedom cannot be conquered by centuries of slavery, or by decades of abuse, or by murder, or by cynicism. (Location 2658)

# Acknowledgments

Ukraine is not a country from the past. We are the future. We have broken the enchanted shackles of the post-Soviet space and have become a territory of freedom. And now the whole world knows— we are the realm of Light and Power. (Location 2672)