26 Sep 2017 Lvl. 2
State replied
Alert created on: 23 May 2017 Ukraine

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

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
Partner Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
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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