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Facebook page of environmentalist, blogger hacked after a post on the risks of wind turbine construction in the Carpathians

08.04.2024, 14:56

The Facebook page of Zakarpattia scientist and blogger Oksana Stankevych-Volosyanchuk was hacked over her environmentalist advocacy and related blog posts.

Journalist investigator Olena Mudra reported this on Facebook and shared the details with the Institute of Mass Information.

Oksana Stankevych-Volosyanchuk is an environmentalist with the NGO "Ecosphere" and a professor at the Uzhhorod National University.

Her Facebook page was hacked after a post about the risks of building wind turbines on the high slopes of the Carpathians. On April 4, Stankevych-Volosyanchuk's wrote about the expediency of replacing Zakarpattia's natural ecosystems with industrial zones which are planned to accumulate large power generating capacities, including hundreds of wind turbines designed for export and profit rather than developing distributed power generation.

In half a day, the post went viral, and in the evening the blogger discovered that she no longer had access to her page despite the two-step authentication being installed. Each attempt to log in yielded an authomatic message that said the account was temporarily suspended because "the Instagram account connected to it violates the guidelines."

The system suggested logging into the Instagram account to file an appeal. Oksana Stankevych-Volosyanchuk says she has no account on Instagram.

Digital security experts joined in restoring access to her Facebook page. It has been reported that the Facebook community task force has already responded and contacted Oksana.

The message received by Oksana Stankevych-Volosyanchuk. Screenshot provided to the IMI by Oksana Stankevych-Volosyanchuk

Oksana Stankevych-Volosyanchuk believes the page hack has to do with her work and activism.

"My post spread across the platform within a few hours. My posts always feature analysis based on official and open sources, so arguments like 'you work for Gazprom and Russia' or 'the whole world is building wind power plants, yet you oppose it' are invalid. Because we do not oppose the development of wind energy, we advocate for expediency and optimal spatial planning when building such facilities, because when it comes to climate protection, protecting and preserving natural ecosystems is the main objective, and renewable energy development is the auxiliary one. I think that the audience's perception of the points made in the post and its quick popularity ultimately angered our opponents. By evening, my page was blocked," the scientist and blogger says about the incident.

As Olena Mudra points out, Zakarpattia businesses associated with former deputy Maksym Yefimov plan to build wind farms with a total capacity exceeding 500 MW on the highest ridges of the Ukrainian Carpathians: Polonyna Runa, Lyutyanska Holytsya, and the Verkhovyna Watershed Ridge, which are valuable wildlife territories and objects of Ukraine's Emerald Network. The state-owned Oshchadbank plans to provide loans for the construction of the wind power plants, in turn attracting loans from the EBRD.

In early 2024, a public campaign opposing the wind turbine construction in the high mountains has started in parallel with the procedural discussion on the urban planning documentation for the construction of 30 wind turbines on the Runa plain in Zakarpattia. The public demands that the construction projects on the ridges be abandoned and alternative locations for the wind turbines be found in areas that are already urbanized. However, the experts' warnings have been ignored by the businesses, and the government fully supports the construction in the mountains.

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