Елліна Шнурко-Табакова Ellina Shnurko-Tabakova

* 1967

  • CHIP ( a magazine about computer technologies, communications and connection) always stood out for testing the products that were sold in Ukraine, but in the first six months, we didn't have a test lab that met all our requirements. So we would take tests from Germany or Poland with their equipment. Ukrainian distributors in 1996 told us: “What are you doing? You showed us these products, and now we have to buy and import them because there was no demand before your publications”. This meant that we were also expanding the market and developing demand for higher quality products rather than just cheap ones by featuring European test sets. Therefore, the Ukrainian IT market is an entirely Ukrainian IT story. Microsoft started its business in Ukraine, and their main office was in Munich until 1997. For a year or two, we worked with Munich. Working with Munich meant having access to trial products and testing versions as quickly as it was done in Europe, whether in the East or the West. Then in 1998 or 1999, they transferred operations to Moscow, and everything disappeared. Microsoft's marketing policy in Ukraine disappeared. They would come and tell us how to do advertising, among other things. And I had to say: “You come here and tell us something, but when we were working with Munich, everything was much better”.

  • “I was the marketing director for the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, which helped to engage youth in the first 1994 elections and led an advertising campaign throughout Ukraine with videos and promotional materials that encouraged young people to vote. It was, of course, a very unexpected experience. We had to travel all over Ukraine in four days and pay for advertising. And it was very interesting back then. In the east, to pay for advertising, you had to go to the Savings Bank, open a savings account, deposit money there, transfer it to the editorial office, and then get your placement. But in Lviv, they said “no-no-no” and accepted dollars in a cafe. And in the central part of Ukraine, coupons were used.”

  • After Kravchuk, Kuchma came to power very quickly. Chornovil was gone. The history of Ukraine went as it went. But there were many people who tried to do something non-standard. I do not think that the diaspora that helped then was something like interference in our internal affairs. Ukrainians from all over the world were very worried about us. Then a lot of people helped not only in advertising campaigns, but also in training journalists, projects to support online marathons for the dissemination of information, as elections take place. I was not very involved there, but there were many projects... what we now consider absolutely normal, like a telethon on election night with vote counting by sociologists. Then there were no such vote counts by sociologists, but such elements of a democratic society that control and understand how elections take place were already present in the 90s. They just did not have the same spread and influence that was necessary for Yanukovych to come to his senses in 2004 after all these years and realize that he didn’t need to falsify the elections. But on the other hand, some experts at the time believed that his attempt to turn ordinary 2% falsifications into 12 or 20 was a signal to society, which felt the falsifications. One may not notice 2% percentages, but it is impossible not to notice 20. He failed precisely on the scale. We remember that there were already such falsifications in Russia, as needed. There were studies of the distribution of votes according to Gauss depending on the voter turnout. In Russia, these Gauss tails were even called Churov (Volodymyr Churov – Russian politician) tails, which showed the scale of election fraud in Russia. I was with a small team... around the 2005 or subsequent elections... we conducted a mathematical analysis of the distribution of votes based on turnout and also produced materials that showed the probable percentage. And in the elections between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych, we were able to calculate about 4% of questionable votes, but we remember that these were critical percentages that, along with the percentage of indifferent “against all”, gave Yanukovych the opportunity to come to power.

  • “The project “Military Room” - a coordination center of effective technologies in service of Ukraine, was born at the beginning of March 2014. It had three directions: the first - material and technical assistance; the second - anti-propaganda activity, against the information influence of Russia, which I am professionally skilled at; and the third - such projects as deciphering, discrediting generals, analytical work with information flows. The first direction was the most necessary. There was nothing in the army then. But we didn't realize it right away. Since I was a member of the Board of the Internet Association and the head of the Association of Information Technology Enterprises, I knew everyone who had hardware, software and everything that exists in this field, I knew them all. They told me, since we were initiators... One person gave me the phone number of the border guard communication chief and the communication chief of the Armed Forces. At first, I went to the border guards, and it was the beginning of March, March 19, I went to him on the 18th - I later marked this date in my journal, I even celebrate it. I come and say: “How can I help? Internet, IT?” He says: “We need barbed wire”. I say: “Digital, printer, computer?” “No-no-no”, - he says, - “barbed wire”. Well, I'll think about it, and I left. And the border guards didn't leave the border then. They really had optics laid, and normal equipment. They needed a wall for Crimea. The next day I went to the communication chief of the Armed Forces, sat there, not just sat there, but really worked for five hours - some phone lines, computers, printers - I really started to use all my connections to satisfy their urgent needs, first for Crimea”.

  • “This was an influential agency [UNIAR - Ukrainian Independent Information Agency “Respublika”]. Every year we launched even television programs. There were UNIAR news on the “YUTAR” TV channel, an economic program “Stavka”, “Desiatka” - such an analytical weekly program. That is, there was a prototype of future television there. There was a problem with having enough money for television. That's why I came there. When we first decided to try, Naboka [Serhii Naboka - chief editor, producer of the first non-state daily program “UNIAR News” in Ukraine] said: “You know, Ellina, they say there that we take money for something in the news, but we don't. Can you figure out - what can we take money for here?” And that's how the first advertisement in the news appeared. I figured it out. And we made commercials and stories. I am not sure whether they paid off or not, but somehow compensated for these costs. Of course, it was very cheap television. Because it was filmed on semi-professional cameras, or even on HI8 [videotapes], for those who remember what it is. Nobody expected Betacam [professional video camera] at that time. But in terms of informational value and influence on the Verkhovna Rada, they were very authoritative programs. And even from a commercial point of view, when you told some foreign companies that you were the only private independent agency, there was more respect than in all future years when I was involved in publishing and media business as an owner. That is, the right values, the right positioning in relation to sources of information, the absence of sales, hidden advertising, influence, party influence control, all of this was already from the 90s. Unfortunately, it was quickly lost in Ukraine, but that's a separate story.”

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    Lviv, 25.01.2023

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We love freedom, and always fought for it

1984 - Ellina Shnurko, a photo from her high school graduation album
1984 - Ellina Shnurko, a photo from her high school graduation album
photo: family archive

Ellina Volodymyrivna Shnurko-Tabakova was born on April 28, 1967 in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine. In 1978, she moved with her family to Kyiv, where she successfully graduated from Physics and Mathematics Lyceum №145 at Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University (KNU) in 1984 and entered the Optics Department of the Faculty of Physics at KNU. After defending her diploma, she worked in her field for several years, but later chose a different professional path, combining media, entrepreneurship, and analytical work. She first accepted a job offer at the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency “Respublika”, where she worked as a general manager. She then created and headed the media holding “SoftPress”. In 2000, she was elected a member of the Board of the Internet Association of Ukraine (IAU). That same year, she initiated and for 15 years headed the IAU Committee on Freedom of Speech and Human Rights, which was responsible for preserving the independence of the Ukrainian internet. She participated in the events of the 2004 and 2013-2014 revolutions. She volunteered at the Main Communication Directorate of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: she created and headed the coordination center “Military Room”, which was responsible for providing material and technical support to military communicators and helping to counter Russian propaganda.