Irish-Ukrainian asks for help cold calling Russians over Putin’s propaganda

An Irish citizen of Ukrainian descent calls on the 21,000 Russian speakers living here to join an international campaign to cold-call 40 million people in Russia with information about the war in Ukraine, in a bid to break down the wall of censorship erected by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Anton Krasun, who has worked here in the tech industry for 11 years, is part of an international group of activists who launched the Call Russia campaign this week. The group has built a database and online platform at, which uses algorithms to retrieve 40 million private phone numbers in Russia from publicly available sources, sorting them into a database. data.

Russian speakers abroad are invited to log in to the site, which will randomly give them a verified Russian phone number. They can then cold call the person on the other end of the line to convince them that the highly controlled image reported by the state-controlled media in Russia is false, and try to reason with them to get the word out. As of Thursday, more than 500,000 calls had already been made via the platform.

Mr Krasun, who helped develop the system, has brought five members of his family from Ukraine to safety in Ireland since the invasion began more than two weeks ago, although part of the family of his wife remained in the strategic southern town of Mykolaiv, which is currently surrounded by Russian troops and under intense bombardment.

“We must stop the war from inside Russia. All independent media are blocked there. Many Russians don’t know what’s really going on. So we try to appeal directly to the Russian people, to their human feelings and their empathy, so that they understand better,” he said.

The Call Russia campaign, which is headquartered in Lithuania, includes more than 60 employees from the tech industry. He received help from psychologists to write non-confrontational scripts for Russian speakers abroad who volunteer to make calls.


Mr Krasun is from the city of Lviv in western Ukraine and was educated at Oxford University before moving in 2011 to work in Dublin for Google and then Twitter, which he recently left for a new job. He lives here with his Ukrainian wife, Inga, also an Irish citizen, and their 20-month-old daughter, Erin.

Her parents, including her father, who is over 70 and in need of medical attention, fled Lviv as soon as the war broke out, arriving in Poland after a marathon 20-hour journey on foot. They flew to Ireland a few days later.

Souris and Sonya: The two dogs are the latest arrivals at Anton Krasun’s home in Dublin, along with the technician’s mother-in-law. She arrived Friday evening with her pets having fled Ukraine via Moldova and Romania

Mr Krasun’s cousin has also arrived in Dublin with her son. His wife’s family lives in Mykolaiv, between the captured city of Kherson and Odessa and is the scene of intense fighting. Her mother-in-law escaped the city this week and arrived in Dublin on Friday evening with her two dogs, having transited through Moldova. Her husband refused to leave his hometown in the face of the Russian advance.

“He’s not safe there but he wants to stay. My wife’s family sent me terrible images of the war, of burnt Russian soldiers,” Mr. Krasun said.

His mother, who is a pianist, and his father are now improving their English skills to better fit in here, while Mr. Krasun tries to arrange medical care for his father who needs an operation. Mr. Krasun is also involved in organizing aid to Ukraine through a website,, which lists the contact details of potential donors.

Telephone canvassing

Data collected from the technology platform by the Call Russia campaign suggests that more than a third of Russians who receive calls will not participate in calls, but a small percentage are willing to listen. Mr Krasun said he had so far made three “successful” calls to Russia via the platform, where he was able to discuss the war in Ukraine with someone on the other end of the line.

“Two were negative and said I was spreading bad west lies. But one call went through. The guy looked like he was about 40. I could tell he was nervous but I didn’t I didn’t try to tell him that Putin was bad. I told him that the information he was getting was not correct and I gave him sources to look up online.

The 2016 Irish census identified almost 21,707 residents here who also speak Russian at home, although the actual number of people here who speak the language is likely to be much higher. Many Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians can also speak the language, as can a large number of Ukrainians. Mr Krasun said he wanted to ask all of them, and Russians in Ireland who “know the truth”, to log on and make calls.

“I know cold calling is tough; I worked in sales and I got used to it. But we give guidelines on what to say and how to talk to people. When the war broke out, I intended to settle into my new job. Now I’m still here and I have three families in Ireland instead of one. We need everyone’s help.

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