15 July 2016
Jessikka Aro is an investigative reporter with YLE Kioski, the social media forum run by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. Aro specializes in Russia, information warfare, security and extremism.
Back in 2014, she started a crowdsourced investigation of pro-Russia info war trolls and a St. Petersburg troll factory. She then became the target of serious harassment by pro-Kremlin propagandists. Now, she is working on a brand new investigative book on the information warfare waged by the Putin regime.
Q: How did you become interested in covering media and power, in your case Russian propaganda?
Jessikka Aro: As a child I was already interested in Russia and Soviet Union because my grandmother told me about her experiences of having to evacuate herself from her home in Karelia, when the Soviet Union started to occupy Finland in her youth. Later, I befriended people who had lived in the Soviet Union, not so far from Finland, and [saw] how their society had been totally different from Western society.
I found their stories extremely interesting - as well as a bit scary - so I started to study Russian and study more about Finland’s big neighbor.