US Denies Role In Ukrainian NGO’s Research On Those Opposing Aid For Kyiv


(RFE/RL) — The United States says the State Department played no role in a project by a Ukrainian NGO, Data Journalism Agency, which says it has come under pressure after publishing research on individuals who have campaigned to end aid to Ukraine.

Data Journalism Agency, also known as Texty, published on June 6 what it said was an analysis of the political, media, and expert environment in the United States that is “influencing decisions” on further support for Ukraine in the Russian-Ukrainian war.

The project was done “independently and solely with the support of our readers,” it said, noting Texty was supported by leading journalists and news outlets from the Ukrainian media association Mediarukh.

Since the publication of its research, the agency said it had come under “unprecedented pressure, manipulation, slander, demands to strip us of donor funding, and threats of physical violence that we have faced following the publication of our research.”

Amid the backlash, several conservative media outlets said Data Journalism Agency had created a “hate list” of U.S. citizens and that the agency was affiliated with the U.S. government.

U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (Republican-Ohio) and Representative Matt Gaetz (Republican-Florida) called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to send information about the Ukrainian NGO by June 28.

They also asked the House Appropriations Committee to end any possible U.S. support being received by the Data Journalism Agency.

A statement issued late on June 14 by the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv ruled out any role of the State Department in the project.

“The State Department did not have any role or participation in the mentioned project,” the statement given to RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service said.

The Data Journalism Agency currently has a U.S.-funded subgrant through the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The Data Journalism Agency is also currently a subcontractor under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Kingdom Agency for International Development (UKAID).

The two agencies fund the Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services (TAPAS) program, USAID told RFE/RL in an e-mail response to a question.

TAPAS is an eight-year, $53 million anti-corruption program in Ukraine to develop online tools that improve government transparency and accountability in the area of procurement of goods and public services — areas that have historically been rife with corruption.

TAPAS is the largest investor in the IT infrastructure of the e-procurement system Prozorro, an electronic public-procurement system through which state and municipal customers announce tenders to purchase goods and services, and through which businesses compete to become a state supplier.

Some U.S. Republican lawmakers have complained about corruption in Ukraine and cited that as one reason for holding back aid.

Eurasia Foundation, a partner of TAPAS, said TAPAS rapidly redesigned its project to meet wartime needs after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukaine in 2022.

The NDI said in a statement to RFE/RL it had worked with the Data Journalism Agency on projects related to Ukrainian media but was not aware of the Roller Coaster Project — the report published on June 6 — until it was published.

Paulina Chavez Alonzo, a spokeswoman for NDI, said the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that has supported democratic institutions and practices around the world “did not provide any funds or support” for the creation, development, or publication of the report.

Debate over aid to Ukraine, which has been fighting to repel invading Russian troops since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, has raged in the United States for months, with a November presidential election looming.

Republican lawmakers in Washington — most of whom are allied with former President Donald Trump, the party’s presumed nominee for the election — for months stalled the approval of a $61 billion aid package while demanding domestic security matters be addressed as well.

Data Journalism Agency said it analyzed the arguments made by organizations and individuals in the United States who oppose supporting Ukraine and compared them with common Russian disinformation narratives, and “debunked these narratives with evidence and source references.”

“We do not label the subjects of this research as enemies of Ukraine, nor do we dispute or condemn their right to freedom of expression. We merely state the fact that they oppose support for Ukraine and that many of their arguments resonate with Russian propaganda narratives about Ukraine,” Data Journalism Agency said.

“We value and respect freedom of speech, a prerequisite for a democratic society. We reserve the right to present evidence, state facts, debunk false arguments, and compare them with those propagated by Russian propaganda worldwide.”

Popular right-wing American political commentator Glenn Beck, who was one of those mentioned in the research, alleged that Data Journalism Agency co-founder Anatoliy Bondarenko had attended a State Department public diplomacy program “to foment” revolutions in other countries and has ties to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), an independent agency of the U.S. government that administers civilian foreign aid and development assistance.

The Data Journalism Agency defended its right to analyze information that is in the public domain.

“We view this campaign as an attack on freedom of speech and a display of chauvinism against the citizens of Ukraine,” the agency said.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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