Kiev, February, 7th, 2017 (Internews). Civilians and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Ukraine are using Vkontakte (a Russia-based network akin to Facebook) to share problems and concerns, communicate with the “opposite side” in the Ukrainian conflict and explore options for peace building, after nearly three years of conflict.

As in many parts of the world, Ukrainians on social media frequently self-organize into so-called “city groups.” City groups have become the place where people share their problems and search for solutions, ask for advice on a broad range of topics, down to looking for contacts for a local plumber or nanny. But in the conflict-affected cities of East Ukraine, where separatist-instigated Russian-supported conflict with the Ukrainian army has raged since early 2014, these groups have become the source of important and urgent information.

Internews, an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide, began studying the social media entries of IDP and city groups in conflict-affected Luhansk and Donetsk when the conflict transitioned from an active to a frozen state around the second half of 2015, in order to learn how best to reach those affected by war with useful information. According to Internews’ latest media consumption survey, up to 50% of Ukrainians use social media, and of those, most prefer Vkontakte.

City groups appear to be relevant and sustainable channels of communication for those affected by the conflict, becoming the bridges between people living on both sides of the frontline as well as between civilians and soldiers. People in city groups often share information about hostilities (when, where, any other relevant information) in city groups, but they also use the social media groups to communicate with the “opposite side civilians” — pro-Russian civilians.

To know more about Internews’analysis, [you can read the complete article on their website.
->https://medium.com/local-voices-global-change/online-communities-as-local-media-4c0c1ac8a254#.gl7jwwnsq ]