Kung Chan, founder of ANBOUND
The war in Ukraine has brought a huge audience and influence on the Russian pro-war Telegram channel. With 1.1 million followers, Rybar is one of the most popular bloggers. It is also an important source of data for Western analysts and media, and has been cited by CNN, Bloomberg, etc. In fact, Chinese news reports on the war in Ukraine also heavily use the news and content of this telegram channel.
The channel is updated daily with battlefield dynamics and a very detailed map of the war. It is also a conduit for sensitive information from Moscow: it was Rybar who first published a video of a Russian “nuclear train” that has become panic headlines in Europe.
Rybar also participated in the war. From the very beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the channel published the location of Ukrainian military units and strategic points. Sometimes the channel even boasted that the Russian army is using this information. Until now, this channel was anonymous. We found two people in charge of the channel. Interestingly, they are united by their love of fantasy novels. One of them is 44-year-old programmer Denis Shchukin. The other is Mikhail Zvinchuk, 31, Arabic military translator and former Ministry of Defense press officer.
The project started as a hobby, but then its creators began to monetize it. Sources told The Bell that Wagner Group CEO Yevgeny Prigozhin offered to fund the channel and wanted to put his expertise to use for his project in Syria — but it didn’t work out. Since the outbreak of the war, Rybar has grown rapidly and has secured some big advertising deals. This caught the attention of the intelligence services. A source told The Bell that while continuing its work, the channel is now obliged to publish material on behalf of the FSB. In other words, they have now become an important part of Russia’s propaganda war.
Therefore, now it has a new character: pro-war media.
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