Volunteers must call millions of Russian families using a random number generator. The initiator of the action reveals what to do with the flood of phone calls.
One phone call can’t change the world, but millions can. This is the motto of Paulius Cenuta. A few weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he founded the platform with some friends “Call Russia”A telephone effort against Putin’s propaganda machine.
“In the first days of the war, everyone here in Lithuania did something. Our intention was to invite,” said Senata in an interview with “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. In March, along with IT, marketing and PR experts, he executed the project within five days. His goal: to use Western information to limit the influence of Russian state propaganda.
Volunteers of “Call Russia” use a random number generator to invite people in Russia to tell stories and send information from a Western perspective. By doing this, they hope to disabuse the public of disinformation from the Russian regime and dissuade them from continuing to support Putin.
“Where the front really is, what losses the Russian army is suffering, what the situation is really like in Ukraine,” the Senate reports on the lack of information in some parts of Russian society. According to him, his callers often responded angrily at first and many conversations lasted less than five minutes. Meanwhile, there are sometimes three-hour talks.
“We developed a conversational technique with psychologists,” Senata explains, but honest interest on the other end of the line is still essential. Also, callers can listen to and tolerate opposing views. “Of course I wouldn’t change a stranger’s worldview in an hour. But people are starting to think.”
More than 50,000 Lithuanians have already tried their luck on the phone and called about 180,000 numbers. Conversations arose in about 90,000 cases.
40 million Russian phone numbers
But the mountain is still high: according to “Süddeutsche”, the group has downloaded about 40 million Russian phone numbers from the Internet. Everyone should communicate. Anyone who speaks Russian can call. “That’s the only thing that really helps us: talking to each other person-to-person,” says Senuta.
Most of the volunteers come from Lithuania and other Baltic states that were part of the Soviet Union until 1990. But Russian exiles around the world are also taking part in the campaign. For more than 20 years, the image of a hostile West has been built in Russia – an enemy image that cannot be destroyed overnight. But Senate admits that most Europeans and Americans know little or nothing about the Russians. So he hopes the project will work in the other direction as well and ensure greater understanding in the West. Institutions and non-governmental organizations of the European Union have already expressed interest in the experiences and insights of voluntary convenors.
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