To the average Russian, Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine might be just a “special military operation” designed to liberate an oppressed Russian minority from evil Ukrainian Nazis. And thanks to Russia’s recently beefed-up censorship, a new law with a 15-year jail term against contradicting official stories about the war, and another new Russian Internet Law designed to help Russia disconnect from the wider global internet, who’s to tell them different?

You are.

Yes, you.

That’s thanks to a new website by Polish programmers that lets you send text messages to random Russians with accurate information about Putin’s war.

 

It’s called 1920.in, after a World War II unit of Polish pilots who joined Britain’s Royal Air Force to continue the fight against Hitler even after their country was conquered. And here’s how to use it:

  1. Go to 1920.in.
  2. Wait while Cloudflare passes you through anti -DDOS (distributed denial of service) protection. This is necessary since Russian hackers may try to flood the website with traffic, making it inaccessible.
  3. Enter the number you see at the top of your screen into your texting app. (Note: this is easier if you’ve enabled text on your computer, in which case you can simple click to copy the phone number and paste it in your computer’s messaging app.)
  4. Click the Copy Text button to copy the already-translated-into-Russian message you’re going to send. Open a new browser window, navigate to translate.google.com, and paste it in. Read the English translation and ensure you’re in agreement with the message. (This is optional, but I always would like to know what I’m going to send someone.)
  5. Now, if you’re on your laptop, paste the Russian-language message into your messaging app, and hit Send. If you’re not, use AirDrop (on iPhone/Mac) or Android Nearby Share on Android (here’s how) to send the message to your phone. (You could also email it.)
  6. Rinse and repeat.

This works because Squad303, the group of programmers behind the project, “obtained some 20 million cellphone numbers and close to 140 million email addresses owned by Russian individuals and companies,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Now you can send individual, personal messages to Russians who are behind a re-emerging and newly digitalized Iron Curtain.

Suggestion: keep them positive and pleasant. Be prepared for some angry responses from people who have bought the official Russian government’s story hook, line, and sinker. (In this case, you can simply block the number in your messaging settings.)

But also be ready for real, honest, and worthwhile interactions with average Russians, many of whom do not share their government’s or Vladimir Putin’s motivations in pursing this war against Ukraine.

Thanks to LULU and