For the last two years, the cases of arresting people for “anti-Ukraine” propaganda on a Russian social media networks became to some extent common. As the Security Service of Ukraine reported, during 2015-2017 years there were 72 criminal proceedings registered, more than 60 people sentenced for “anti-Ukraine” propaganda on “VK.com” and “OK.ru.”
SBU refers to violations of Articles 109, 110, 258-3, 436-1 of the criminal code. Most defendants got probe sentences.
With “sanction decree” #133/2017 resulted in blocking of Russian social networks and popular sites (VK.com, OK.ru, Yandex.ru, Mail.ru, etc.), Russian services lost up to 30-60% of their audience. Yet, the sites have not prohibited in Ukraine. Using various anonymizers and VPNs Ukrainians accessing Russian social networks daily.
At the same time, arrests of users rise the questions of 1) adequacy of punishment for the crime, 2) risks for netfreedom in general.
In our last month’s highlights based on monitoring and mapping of incidents in Internet freedom for the period of September, 15 – October, 15, we indicated four major cases of arresting of “anti-Ukraine” propagandists, one in Zaporizhia, one in Lviv and two in Zhytomyr. All of them were arrested for “anti-Ukraine” propaganda, not only in Russian VK.com or OK.ru, but also on different popular media websites, often pro-russian ones. Also, on September, 29, 2017, two men were sentenced to 9 years for consulting and technical assistance for separatist-led “Novorossia TV.”
The incident of arresting of “anti-Ukraine” propagandist in Odessa on October 19, 2017, is similar to cases mentioned early. The communication of SSU regarding cases is imperfect – there are few details on the background of each case.
Read also an expert survey on internet freedom in time of military conflict conducted by our research team in period of Dec, 12, 2016 – Jan 12, 2017.