Ukraine Blocks Russian Social Networks and Expands Economic Sanctions Against Russian Companies

Update: 26 Sep 2017 State replied
Year 23 May 2017 Country Ukraine Category E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
23 May 2017 Ukraine E. Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State Article 19 , CPJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2

On 15 May 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko issued Presidential Decree 133 which imposes sanctions on 1228 individuals and 468 legal entities based in Russia, the occupied Crimea, and non-government controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Among the entities affected are some of the largest Russian-owned Internet companies and social networks, including Yandex, Mail.ru, Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki. According to the decree, Ukrainian internet service providers will be required to block access to these sites for a period of three years. The websites blocked by the Presidential decree are in the top ten most popular websites in Ukraine. According to statistics provided by SimilarWeb, 17.55% of unique visits to VKontakte and 15.15% to Odnoklassniki come from within Ukraine. Yandex.ua, a search provider and e-mail client and the fifth largest website in Ukraine, received 215 million visits over the past six months. The statistics also show that more than 50% of Ukrainians use Vkontakte. The decree also lists and updates the sanctions, asset freezes and broadcast bans imposed on the Russian TV channels and adds the Russian-based RBC TV to the sanctions list. A number of human rights organisations called the decree a disproportionate measure restricting access to information but Ukrainian officials have defended the measure as a matter of national security, given that the country is a victim of disinformation, propaganda campaigns and cyber-attacks, which use the data on Ukrainian users stored on the Russian social networks.

State replies

17 Jul 2017 : Reply from the Government of Ukraine

Follow-ups

26 Sep 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights recalls that any restrictions on access to Internet content should be based on a clear and predictable framework affording guarantee of judicial oversight to prevent possible abuses.
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