The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, met with Annette Kroeber-Riehl, Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google, and Patrick Warning, Vice President of Central and Eastern Europe, who arrived in Kyiv. The meeting focused on the long-term and fruitful partnership between Ukraine and Google in various spheres of cultural and public life.
Olena Zelenska expressed her gratitude for Google’s principled support during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Google was one of the first companies to impose sanctions against Russia. They suspended advertising in Russia and terminated cooperation with Russian advertisers. In addition, YouTube deleted more than 9,000 channels and 70,000 videos that distorted the truth about Russian aggression. Google has also suspended monetisation of Russian state media globally and blocked YouTube channels in Europe associated with Russian state media. In addition, Google provided enhanced cyber protection for Ukrainian accounts and helped Ukrainian state resources and media to protect against DDoS attacks.
The First Lady emphasised the importance of correct answers to Google searches as part of information security for the whole world. She highlighted the issue of the incorrect display of Ukraine’s territory on Google Maps, which depends on the user’s location. She called for the map of Ukraine to be displayed in accordance with the internationally recognised 1991 borders, regardless of the user’s location.
Olena Zelenska also expressed the need to de-Russify Google’s search and asked the company to change YouTube settings for Ukrainian users and provide more Ukrainian content.
“We are asking you to disassociate Ukraine from the CIS space in the YouTube settings and change the automatic delivery of Russian-language content for users from Ukraine and from Ukrainian IP addresses, as well as change the automatic delivery of recommended and popular content for Ukrainians from Russian to Ukrainian and European content,” the President’s wife said.
Mental health was an important issue discussed at the meeting. Olena Zelenska stressed the need for cooperation with Google in the field of mental health, especially among young people. She called for continued cooperation on children’s safety on the Internet and suggested creating a library of quality content on mental health.
Olena Zelenska also suggested putting psychological help points on Google maps and creating a barrier-free environment for Ukrainians, including people with disabilities and people with limited mobility.
In addition, they discussed cooperation in the digitalisation of Ukrainian cultural heritage and museums, including the creation of immersive exhibitions to spread Ukrainian culture and knowledge about it around the world.
At the end of the meeting, Olena Zelenska expressed her hope for further cooperation with Google and the use of their technologies for a positive impact on the world. She emphasised the importance of ensuring that a Google search always means finding a quick and objective answer to any vital question.