Roman Burko started his personal war against the Russian aggression during the occupation of Crimea. This war continues to this day. Roman founded InformNapalm, the international volunteer intelligence community. Today, intelligence staff from NATO member-states read its reports. Yet, Roman keeps quiet and doesn't attend TV shows. Therefore, his name is barely known in Ukraine.
All Roman had at the beginning was a Facebook account, little experience in journalism, computer skills and a strong desire to fight for what is fair. His posts on real life in Crimea were gaining more and more popularity. He was later joined by an ex-Georgian military Irakli Komakhidze who helped Roman co-found InformNapalm. The two activists barely slept or ate as they collected data on the “little green men”, revealed their secrets and identified the
servicemen from specific Russian military units involved in Ukraine.
The Russian military weren't very happy with this. One day, Roman almost got shot by one of Putin's “polite men” as he was trying to film a takeover of a Ukrainian military unite in Crimea. Later, the FSB started a hunt for him.
Roman fled the Russian services with a backpack of Tshirts and a laptop in 2014. He had no idea at that time that he would soon become a pain in the neck for the Russians and someone to be proud of for Ukraine.
Roman settled down in Lviv. That's where the name InformNapalm was born and the group's key priorities outlined. Eventually, the website developed into Ukraine's first open source intelligence system, OSINT. An average blog grew into a powerful information source that reveals Russia's military and security secrets in over 30 languages. InformNapalm members include people from all over the world, from Georgia to South Africa, from Canada to Germany. Its major accomplishments include the identification of more than 75 units of the Russian Armed Forces in Crimea and the Donbas; the discovery of the Kremlin's agents in European countries; the collection of proofs for illegal transfer of armaments to Iran; and the discovery of organisations in Western Europe that conduct the Russian World propaganda and recruit people to fight on Russia's side in Ukraine. At one point, InformNapalm published personal data of 116 crew members of the Russian Air Force in Syria. The Russians referred to this as a “leak of super-secret and dangerous information”, even though it was collected from various video reports done by the Russian media, as well as from other open sources.
In 2016, InformNapalm's databases and video clips with specific proofs of the Russian aggression in the Donbas were officially presented at the latest PACE session and NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Istanbul. This data was transferred directly to the representatives of various governments. Roman says jokingly that the best recognition of his work is threats from the Russian President's press-secretary Igor Peskov and ongoing attacks against InformNapalm's websites by Russian hackers.
Despite this success, InformNapalm remains a volunteer-based network. Unlike most other communities, it never joined any law enforcement agency in order to preserve its agility outside of the bureaucratic machine and independence in decision-making. Today, it's a network that is not burdened by red tape or formal hierarchy, and comprised of volunteers who do the open source intelligence, as well as translators and insiders from the occupied territories. In 2016, it formed a powerful cooperation net with the Ukrainian CyberAlliance (UCA) known for #SurkovLeaks and many other massive hacktivist operations against Russia. Roman's dream is to win the war and return to the Ukrainian Crimea. But above all he dreams of turning Ukraine into one of the most beautiful, powerful and developed countries in the world. A country that could be proudly handed over to the next generations. This may seem idealistic, but Roman has done enough to deserve such dreams.