A Month after Signing the ‘Sanction’ Decree That Blocks Russian Websites. Drawing Conclusions

On May 15, 2017 the President of Ukraine signed into action the decision made by the National Defense and Security Council on expanding the economic sanctions, which includes blocking the Russian services. Internet Freedom followed the unfolding of the events, held public discussions in Kyiv, Lviv, and Vinnytsia, as well as consultations with experts, and summed up everything we saw and heard in our publications.

We regularly monitor incidents and violations of Internet freedom in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. The results of the monitoring and our analytics are available on our website: netfreedom.org.ua

Security vs freedom of speech. The decree on blocking websites divided the society, Internet providers, and the international community. WHAT EVENTS HAPPENED and how will the decision to block Russian websites influence the international ratings of Ukraine in the sphere of freedom of speech on the Internet?

The lack of the unified opinion on the situation with the freedom on the Internet is confirmed  by the expert poll carried out by the Internet Freedom between December 2016 and January 2017.

43% of the experts said that they accept certain limitations of the freedom on the Internet under the pretext of ensuring national security, and 35% do not agree with this.


The Decree is an answer to Russia’s aggression. How did human rights activists react and were there any alternatives to this decision? These questions were raised during a public discussion held in Kyiv with the participation of authorities, human rights activists, and civic activists. DETAILS HERE

Banned Russian websites are a source of hacker attacks that could have been fatal for Ukraine, the author of The Wall Street Journal explains. MORE

Unauthorized programs to bypass the blocking of Russian social networks are dangerous for the country. If you have seen a free service for accessing the prohibited website that is advertised on Vkontakte (VPN), stay away from it. WHICH SERVICES ARE SAFE?

Ban FreeU browser on organizational level. The cyber police analyzed FreeU browser that is not being very actively advertised on the Internet and provides RECOMMENDATIONS

How much did the banned websites lose? 92% less coverage of the Ukrainian audience by video advertising on Vkontakte, 77% less on Odnoklassniki, and 30% more on Facebook in the first week after the Decree that introduced sanctions. MORE HERE

Contrary to expectations of many experts, Ukrainians did not start using VPN services in large numbers. Traffic share from VPN stopped growing. WHY?

Was the decision to block strong in terms of information security? Read the explanation of the expert from the Internet Freedom project team HERE

3 mln UAH. This is the estimated amount of losses sustained by Wnet Internet provider due to the SSU searches. READ MORE

Unfounded accusations by the SSU? Developer of Stakhanovets software, which was discovered in Ukrgazvydobuvannia and Dragon Capital, who was declared wanted, denies allegations in submitting user information and data to the Russian secret services made by the SSU. DETAILS

Leaving Ukraine. Russian service Mail.Ru is leaving the Ukrainian market. It includes a number of well-known online resources, such as social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, and mail service Mail.ru. MORE HERE

Over a half. This is the amount of Ukrainian traffic that the Russian Internet lost after blocking. DATA


Switched to Russian traffic. In the occupied Crimea, after blocking access to Yandex, Mail.Ru, and Vkontakte on the territory of the peninsula, the operators stopped using Ukrainian Internet traffic entirely. READ MORE

Russia wants to ban VPN. A draft law prohibiting the use of technology that allows to bypass blocking of websites has been submitted to the Russian State Duma. DETAILS


The UN is trying to find blogger Stanislav Aseev (Vasin) who went missing in Donetsk. It became impossible to get in touch with Donetsk blogger and author for Radio Donbas.Realii earlier this month. MORE HERE

Following the International Trends

Could IT companies such as Facebook and Google do more to counter terrorism and xenophobia? The answer is ‘yes’. WHY?

Give police access to cloud data storages of Facebook and Google. The EU is discussing the possibilities to speed up investigation of crimes committed by terrorists. DETAILS

How does the Kremlin carry out hybrid and information aggression on post-Soviet territory? PhD and Researcher at the University of Tartu, Estonia Vladimir Sazonov explains Russia’s behavior. READ

The previous report about incidents and violations of Internet freedom is available here.

The overview has been written by NGO “Internews Ukraine” as part of implementing the project Internet Freedom in Ukraine: Supporting the Principles of Freedom of Speech and Security in the Time of Conflict.”


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