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The Ukraine War Archive: annual summaries

23 February 2023

The unified database of media materials about the war in Ukraine, a project by NGO Docudays and Infoscope, has been functioning and developing for almost a year now. Using the simplest means of documentation, the Ukraine War Archive (UWA) creates a chronicle of events which records our history and helps to punish the perpetrators of war crimes. Time to look back, share the results, and outline the future perspectives.


During the past period, the Ukraine War Archive team managed to build an innovative data collection and processing system from scratch, and to form a professional team. The areas of its work were expanded, and stable relationships with partner organizations have been established. The project has a bilingual website and a Telegram bot which allow anyone to upload their testimony. The total volume of the material collected has reached about 3,100 hours. In particular, the project has successfully collected 2,500 videos and 795,000 photos and documents from open sources. The calculations are approximate, since the database is being constantly updated.


Over time, new areas of work have been added, and the team has grown to meet the tasks and challenges. The project involves a data sorting and uploading department, as well as analysts who examine and categorize the collected materials using thematic tags. In total, the Ukraine War Archive employs 38 specialists, including its head, a project manager, tech support, a communications manager, a designer, a lawyer, partnership and interviewing coordinators.


The staff of Infoscope, co-founders of the Ukraine War Archive, are also involved in the project. Around 17 professionals in total, who work either full-time and as consultants: database developers and analysts, software developers, an IT administrator, a UX/UI designer, the user support department, and project managers. The team is currently looking for an editor, an archive manager who will study the database and process individual requests.


In summer, the interviewing department began its work. Since then, the team has talked to 230 people from different Ukrainian regions. To prepare for this work, the team members working in this area participated in psychological training and learned about the characteristics of collecting oral testimony as well as interactions in the field of traumatic experience. As a reminder, you can apply for an interview and tell your wartime story directly on the project website.


Today, the project is intensifying its collaboration with regional media by collecting video recordings. Another significant area of work is partnership with international organizations investigating war crimes and doing OSINT research.


“At the very start, we made the decision that this is a long-term and strategic project, so that’s how we are moving. This year, we plan to involve OSINT investigators to collect materials about the enemy side. This will help us in future criminal investigations. Our partners, Infoscope, are already developing an algorithm which will allow us to make assumptions about the involvement of certain military units in the commitment of war crimes,” says Maria Buchelnikova, coordinator of the Ukraine War Archive.


At this stage, the UWA provides limited access to its materials, since the database is very big, technically complex, and has a lot of functions. Project team members constantly collect feedback on using the database and work to improve user experience.


The project team has collected a large volume of exclusive material from various regions of Ukraine, including occupied and liberated areas, thanks to project partners such as the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Centre for Civil Liberties, Kharkiv Human Rights Group, VGORU Media Platform, Charity and Health Fund, Ukraїner, Ukrainian Witness Media Project, Educational House for Human Rights in Chernihiv, Suspilne, Hromadske, Nakypilo Media Group, National Museum of the Holodomor Genocide, Kinodopomoha Association, Vostok SOS, Cukr online magazine.


Maria Buchelnikova, Ukraine War Archive coordinator, emphasizes:

“We are preparing the platform for a high number of users, both Ukrainian and international. We are interested in making the project a useful tool for defending Ukraine’s interests in every possible area: human rights, political, cultural, etc. Because the processes of achieving justice and destroying Russian imperialist narratives are very long-term, so we must be prepared for this.”


We express our gratitude to the national and private foundations, non-governmental organizations that have been supporting the Ukraine War Archive: the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine, USAID/ENGAGE, the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine and the House of Europe,  ISAR Ednannia, Prague Civil Society Center, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, Razom for Ukraine, People in Need.

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The opinions, conclusions or recommendations belong to the authors and editors of this publication and do not necessarily reflect the views of the governments or charities of the countries supporting the project. The responsibility for the content of the publication is borne exclusively by the authors and editors of the publication.

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