Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

tel. +38 (044) 287 52 58

In the seventh year of the war, Ukraine finally began to actively regain its own information space

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues a consistent policy aimed at combating the Russian hybrid war in the Ukrainian information space. Last month, February 2, Zelenskyy after putting his signature immediately enacted the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) «On the application of personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)» - and as a result at the same day, three national channels stopped their broadcasting: 112, News One and ZIK. The next step in the struggle for the Ukrainian information space was the creation of a «Center for Countering Disinformation» on the basis of the National Security and Defense Council. The start of this center was scheduled for March 16. According to Zelenskyy, in the future the center should become an «international hub in the fight against Russian propaganda and fakes around the world». The President reminded that Ukraine is now at the forefront, in particular, of the fight against Russian propaganda and mentioned the fakes of the aggressor-state about the «crucified boy», «train of fascist punishers» and «we are not there». [1]

Previously, the fight against Russian fakes in Ukraine was mainly carried out by representatives of non-governmental organizations, quite successfully exposing the fakes of the aggressor-state. However, their activities covered quite limited audience. At the same time, the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine has shown its inability to fight Kremlin propaganda. As a result, a large number of the population of Ukraine during all the years of the war, and still lives in the paradigm of the Russian information agenda. Therefore, the creation of a state institution that will be able to cooperate with public organizations and coordinate its work with similar institutions of European states is an important step in countering Russian propaganda. According to the Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko, the center will create a joint platform in cooperation with fact-checking organizations so it will allow not only to reveal the facts of fakes and manipulations, but also to provide true positive information about Ukraine. The main areas of work of the Center will be detection, response, counteraction, education and communication projects. Oleksandr Olshanskyi, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Committee for Reforms, said that the Center for Countering Disinformation would coordinate the activities of various branches of government, including the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, the National Institute for Strategic Studies, special services and special monitoring units.[2]


In modern conditions of political pluralism in Ukraine and the absence of tools that would regulate the mass media, manipulation of the consciousness of citizens becomes a danger to state stability and the strategic course of the state. Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic vector is not an irreversible process. This is evidenced by last year's constitutional crisis and the growing rating of pro-Russian political parties at the end of last year, which openly declare their intention to change the course of the state enshrined in the Constitution. Currently, the main Ukrainian channels belong to the oligarchs and are used by political parties to promote their own ideas and form the necessary negative attitudes within the country. Since the information space is not regulated at all, media workers are accustomed to permissiveness, often manipulating the facts, disseminating inaccurate information in the interests of TV channel owners. A prime example of the detrimental effects of such a policy is a daily criticism by the opposition and pro-Russian channels of government procurement of Indian and Chinese vaccines. Viktor Medvedchuk's blocked channels, which were quite popular among the population, have been promoting the idea of ??the need to purchase the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine on a daily basis, rejecting any other options. The result of such propaganda and lobbyism is the population's distrust of the purchased vaccine and the unwillingness of 52% of the population to be vaccinated even for free, according to a January poll conducted by the «Rating» group.

Since Ukraine is in fact in a state of war, but martial law has not been declared directly, the state must create legislative protections and regulations, enabling it to defend its information space. Therefore, the next step of the Ukrainian authorities should be the adoption of a law «On Mass Media», which has been discussed for a long period of time. According to representatives of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting, resistance to the adoption of the Law «On Mass Media» aims to «consolidate the situation in which the country will not be able to resist the informational occupation. All of that is manipulatively called «the struggle for the freedom of speech».[3]

It is worth noting that even democracies have legal protections. For example, in Germany, there is no special law, but there is such a concept as operational responsibility. In other words, anyone who maintains, for example, a website is also responsible for its content. And this also applies, of course, to the mass media, Internet versions of newspapers or the pages of broadcasters. To the same extent, ordinary users who run their own website are responsible for the content of this page. And if the false information or even manipulations or, for example, incitement to illegal activities, appear on their page, then the owner of the resource is responsible for such serious violations.[4]

In addition to the German experience, we can refer to the policy of the United States of America during the Cold War. The efforts of the US government were aimed at countering the left-wing political forces, which were supported by the Soviet Union. Back then, in 1950, the Internal Security Act was passed, which obliged the American Communist Party and other organizations that could be the subject to this law to register with the Department of Justice as «agents of a foreign state», to report data on their members, officials, financial and organizational activities. Failure to comply with the law and refusal to register was punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 10,000. The actions of the US government were not aimed at fighting freedom of speech, these measures were taken to ensure the state's resilience from the Soviet threat.

In the seventh year of the war, Ukraine finally began to actively regain its own information space. The creation of the «Center for Countering Disinformation» eventually will allow Ukraine to counter hybrid threats from the Russian Federation more effectively. In the near future this initiative should be supplemented by the law «On Mass Media», which has not been adopted by the Verkhovna Rada for two years. Meanwhile the position of the speaker of the parliament Dmytro Razumkov, who is trying to distance himself from certain decisions that could harm his further political career, on this law remains unclear. There is also a danger that Russia will respond to these initiatives by further escalating of hostilities in the Donbas, due to the Kremlin's gradual loss of resources which were used to influence the Ukrainian population.