Aidar from Bellingcat: We’re tracking the Russian invasion of Ukraine using open source data
Journalist and data analyst at Bellingcat, Aiganysh Aidar, says that the war in Ukraine, caused by Russian aggression, is being followed closely.
In an interview with The Geopost, Aidar emphasized that through open source resources, maps are being created to help Ukraine.
“We’re looking at various open databases, we’re looking at mapping services, so for example we’re looking at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and for that we’re looking at the posts on the Telegram social network of what’s going on, we’re verifying it by use map services”, said Aidar.
TheGeopost: How does the Bellingcat uses the free sources to fight disinformation today?
It is open sources in 99% of the cases, basically we look what is available out there in the internet. So we are looking at different open databases, we are looking at mapping services, so for example we are looking at the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and for that we are looking at “Telegram” posts of what is happening, we are verifying it using mapping services. So basically everything that is available on the internet and that is maybe a key way of working in Bellingcat that we are only looking on what is available to everyone else.
TheGeopost: What are your biggest challenges working for Bellingcat?
I think that writing is actually one of the biggest challenges for me, because, like everyone at Bellingcat, when they joined Bellingcat, none of us had journalistic background, we were all self-taught, doing different fact checks online, but when we got in we needed to actually draft something up, and for me that was difficult.
TheGeopost: How do you comment Russian invasion in Ukraine?
Bellingcat has been looking at Russia and Ukraine since 2014. When we launched, it was one of the first projects and nowadays we are creating this map of civilian harm done in Ukraine, we are collecting incidents of civilian harm done and making it publicly available so other media can use it, international courts can use it.
TheGeopost: You are from Kirgizstan; can you tell us about Russian influence there and what do you suggest?
Kirgizstan is very economically dependent on Russia, dependent on gas, but also there is a lot of Russian propaganda in Kirgizstan, because in Kirgizstan we still have the Russian news, so most of the Kirgizstan actually believe that Russia is saving Ukraine, and that is not good. The way to combat it is actually a very difficult question for a country which is so dependent on Russia. What we are seeing is that west is trying to replace some grants that we used to have from Russia, so maybe that is helping a little bit, investing maybe in education, it is a very difficult question, I guess being a less dependent on Russia, but again it is a whole new challenge.
TheGeopost: What is your message to new journalists and media, how to better and faster find the truth?
Collaborating, and there was a good suggestion from the panelists (at the conference) google more, definitely check out the resources that are already available, because there are so many great organizations that are working on the guidelines or they have fact check data, so definitely looking at the work that has already been done, but also if you have a question, collaborating because lot of organizations are quite open for collaborations and continue doing what you do, because the work that journalists do is very important./TheGeopost