To detect, to prevent, to avoid: activists were taught security in Kyiv

Forewarned is forearmed. This is particularly true for activists’ personal safety as well as for peaceful gatherings, which could lead to clashes with those that oppose them. For this reason, UHHRU organized a seminar on security and digital hygiene on 8-9 March 2019 for activists of human rights organizations and initiative groups from all over Ukraine that specialize in protecting LGBTQI rights and combating discrimination.

On the first day of this seminar, the participants were taught how to anticipate risk factors, determine the most and least probable risks and avoid burnout by Tymur Levchuk, head of the Fulcrum NGO. After receiving advice from their coach on ensuring personal safety as well as the safety of those taking part in public events, the attendees prepared personal security plans and discussed them in groups.

No less interesting and relevant to the participants was the second part of the training, during which Vadym Hudyma and Maksym Lunochkin, experts of the Digital Security Lab, explained how to protect internet accounts of individuals, as well as organizations from external threats, how to prevent loss of data on devices and protect against spyware and viruses, and how to keep IP addresses safe. The experts also shared how to avoid phishing scams which involve the use of deception to obtain people’s personal information.

Olena Grygoriak, regional coordinator of the Insight NGO in Chernivtsi, activist, queer feminist and human rights defender, enjoyed the training greatly.

“Over two days I was given the opportunity to meet activists from other cities with whom I had a lot of common interests and professional stuff to speak about. Making new acquaintances is both interesting and useful as it can be of help in the future when it comes to resources and motivation. The most relevant subject for me was physical security – of activists as well participants of public events in general, because our organization is organizing all kinds of events, and it’s important for us to use the skills we acquired to minimize risks during these events. So I’ll be sure to share my new knowledge with my colleagues, when I return to Chernivtsi,” says Olena.

The training also received praise for being instructive and interesting from Vitaliy Tsaryuk, representative of the LGBT Association LiGA in Odessa and activist of the Nash Mir LBGT Center.

“Thanks to the advice of experienced coaches I was once again reminded of the importance to protect your accounts if you’re an activist. It was handy to be shown what settings should be used to prevent break-ins. It also cemented the idea that we should carefully assess the smallest risks when holding certain events, since even something that seems insignificant could result in serious problems,” shares Vitaliy.

It should be noted, that the training was held as part of a project supported by the Democracy Commission of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The views of the authors do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Government.

Prepared by Anna Semenkiv

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