top of page

Ukraine first lady appeals for IT workers’ help

Lisbon, Portugal, November 3 ------ Ukraine’s first lady called for IT specialists to help her country by building technology that saves lives rather than ending them.

Olena Zelenska told thousands of investors, entrepreneurs and tech workers gathered for the annual Web Summit in Portugal that Russia “puts technology at the service of terror”. She showed slides of the aftermath of drone attacks in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and urged the delegates to use their skills to make a positive change instead. Her husband, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, appeared as a hologram at several tech events earlier this year to directly appeal to companies to help rebuild his country with advanced tech infrastructure.

Zelenska, who has made in-person appearances at several events recently and addressed US Congress in July, said she would not make a detailed appeal. Instead, the 44-year-old, a screenwriter by profession, highlighted the key role that technology was playing in the Russian invasion of her country. She cited a Bellingcat report that alleged Russian IT workers were playing an active part in the war effort. “Some IT specialists in Russia have made their choice to be aggressors and murderers,” she said, urging the audience to make the opposite choice. “I believe that technology should be used to create, save and help people, not destroy them.” Her 15-minute speech drew a standing ovation from the audience.

The organizers of the Web Summit had earlier become embroiled in a row over an invitation they had extended to people from Grayzone, a journalism website that regularly reflects pro-Russian conspiracy theories about the conflict. The conference cancelled the invites, provoking a huge row on social media between users who said it was an infringement of free speech and those who supported the decision.

Some 70,000 people are expected to attend the Lisbon conference over the next three days.



bottom of page