Wag the Bear: How a Danish NGO is helping to deliver the truth to Russians via YouTube

Ben Hamilton
March 13th, 2023

The WHY Foundation intends to broadcast ‘the truth’ in 50 documentaries dubbed into Russian. Reach ‘a few good men’ and who knows what might happen

“You want answers/I want the truth!/You can’t handle the truth!”

Only in the 2023 version of ‘A Few Good Men’, Jack Nicholson’s portraying the Russian state and a Danish NGO, The WHY Foundation, is being played by Tom Cruise. 

That leaves the jury as the people of Russia, who courtesy of the NGO can now access a wide range of Russian language documentaries concerning subjects pertinent to their current situation – primarily as the aggressors in the War in Ukraine.

Delivering reliable facts
Described as “fact-based” and “reliable”, The WHY Foundation has picked 50 documentaries – focusing on themes such as war, democracy, diversity, corruption, slavery, and children’s, women’s and LGBTQ+ issues rights – to dub into Russian and broadcast on its YouTube channel

Since March 1, the WHY Foundation has been releasing five new documentaries every Wednesday. The first five were ‘Putin’s Kiss’, ‘Albino Boy in Africa’, ‘Leaving the Cult’, ‘Please Vote For Me’ and ‘My Afghanistan’.

Furthermore, the rights to show them have also been granted to some of Russia’s neighbours, including Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Mongolia.

Crucial timing
“It is absolutely crucial that we bring this information to Russian speakers now, as we watch Ukraine still battling for freedom one year on from the invasion,” contended Mette Hoffmann Meyer, the CEO of The WHY Foundation.

“Human-focused documentaries have the power to initiate dialogue and counter the ‘us and them’ narrative currently being perpetuated in Russian media. It can evoke a powerful emotional response from viewers and inform them about issues they never knew existed – especially if they can watch the films in their native language.”

The WHY Foundation cited a 2021 survey that claims Russians are among the most active social media users in Europe, averaging just under 150 minutes per day.

YouTube is one of the country’s most popular platforms and, despite media crackdowns, is reachable by 80 percent of Russian internet users.


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