Ukraine extends sanctions, blocks popular Russian web services and software companies

President Poroshenko shooting on logos of Yandex and Odnoklasniki . Cartoon: Sergey Elkin for the Deutsche Welle.

President Poroshenko shooting on logos of Yandex and Odnoklasniki . Cartoon: Sergey Elkin for the Deutsche Welle. 

2017/05/16 - 21:06 • News

President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree dated 15 May 2017 enacting the decision of the NSDC (National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine) “On Application of Personal Special Economic and Other Restrictive Measures (Sanctions).” The decision extends the Ukrainian sanctions against 1228 personalities linked to the Crimea annexation, terrorist activities, illegal border crossing, and 468 Russia-based or Russia-affiliated companies, mostly providers of web services and software developers. The list of personalities also includes persons who had illegally visited occupied Crimea.

Ukraine sanctioned Russia because of the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the continuing conflict in the Donbas. Before today’s update, the Ukrainian sanctions list included more than 400 Russian entities.

Economic sanctions include the freezing of assets, ban on transactions, providing public services and other measures. The sanctions will be in force from one to three years.

A day before he signed the decree, the President said Russia would try to influence Ukraine through using cyber warfare but would fail. “Recently we have seen a cyber war when Russian used cyber warfare trying to influence the results of elections across Europe, and in the U.S. We expect that they will try to do the same thing Ukraine,” Poroshenko said.

The newly sanctioned companies include popular Russian social networks Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, email service mail.ru, the Russia’s largest internet group Yandex, software companies 1C, ABBYY, Kaspersky Lab, Dr.Web, and their Ukrainian affiliated company.

Subsidiaries of Russian banks in Ukraine were sanctioned this year. Ukraine had previously banned major Russian television channels from broadcasting including VGTRK, TV Center RTR, NTV-Plus, Zvezda, TNT, REN-TV, RT.

Read more:  ‘Censorship’ or Sanity? – Blocking Enemy Russian Agitprop on Ukrainian TV FAQ

According to data put out by the market research agency Kantar TNS for April 2017, Vkontakte was the third most visited site in Ukraine following Google and YouTube. Mail.ru mail service war the fourth most popular site, the Yandex search engine was the fifth. Odnoklasniki social network was the ninth most visited site in Ukraine, according to Kantar TNS.

The Russian social networks are actively used to spread Russian propaganda among Ukrainians.

Decree signed, no tools to implement

It remains unclear how soon the Internet providers should ban the sanctioned companies. As of 17:00, 16 May 2017, the banned sites are still accessible online in Ukraine.

Co-owner of Triolan internet service providing company Volodymyr Sydorenko said the engineers of his company are exploring the issue to find out whether the blocking can be implemented. “As of now we don’t analyze or filter any network traffic, it is like a pipe, we don’t know what flows to us,” said Sydorenko.

Ukrtelecom Internet service provider reported that it has already started to implement the NSDC decision, however, “the process is quite complicated and requires some time.”

The SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) commented on the ban of the Russian online services in Ukraine, pointing out that there is no mechanism to block access to the sanctioned services. The Cabinet of Ministers and the SBU were ordered to develop the mechanism of web blocking. The National Bank of Ukraine in also involved in the development process.

Opinions divided

The decision to block the Russian social networks faced sharply divided reactions. The polar arguments run down to: “this had to be done long ago amid Russia’s hybrid war” and “Ukraine becomes like Russia, China, and other countries restricting citizens’ right to know.”

StopFake founder Yevhen Fedchenko commented on the decree, “If it will be possible to do this, this will be the greatest contribution to the protection of information sovereignty of Ukraine ever.”

Steven Pifer considers the decision to block Russian social networks in Ukraine a mistake:

“We are turning into Russia, except we have no oil,” philosopher Michael Minakov thinks.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told that Poroshenko’s decree was “another manifestation of unfriendly, short-sighted policy toward Russia,” and said it “violates the rights of people in Ukraine to receive information.”

Russia reacted angrily, calling the presidential decree “unfriendly” and accusing Kyiv of censorship.

Interesting facts

A Russian Kremlin-controlled site blocked in Ukraine has published a guide how to bypass website blocks. Ironically, this guide can be used to bypass Kremlin blocked sites in Russia:

The president of Ukraine has official accounts on banned Odnoklasskini (38,000 followers) and Vkontakte (465,000 followers):

However, Petro Poroshenko has decided to close his official pages on Russian social networks.

 

Poll: Ukraine is going to block the Russian social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklasski. Do you support this decision?

  • Ukraine sanctioned Russia because of the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the continuing conflict in the Donbas
  • The most severe restrictions on the Internet are imposed in China, Syria, Iran, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain.
  • Until now the level of freedom of the Internet in Ukraine was assessed as “partially free”.
  • The Council of the European Union is eyeing an opportunity to extend the term sanctions against the Russian Federation are imposed for from six to twelve months.

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  • http://www.franksrecipes.net Frank

    Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki are NOT mentioned in the new law

    • Tony

      But it is, http://www.vk.com & http://www.ok.ru:

      11)заборона Інтернет-провайдерам надання послуг з доступукористувачам мережі Інтернет до ресурсів сервісів «Mail.ru»(www.mail.ru) та соціально-орієнтованих ресурсів«Вконтакте» (www.vk.com)та «Одноклассники» (www.ok.ru)

  • http://www.franksrecipes.net Frank
  • veth

    Well done, no fascist propaganda anymore from Hitler-Russia

  • Rafael Hernandez

    Ukraine resembles North Korea more and more each day since Maidan

    • Alex George

      In what way?

      Ukraine is successful economically, culturally, politically, diplomatically and militarily. None of which applies to North Korea, nor to that other pariah state known as Russia (and soon to be known as about a dozen different entities).

      • Andrew Chmile

        “Talking” with your own accounts you STUPID RUSKI **MOLE**? :))

        • Alex George

          HI Andrew – attacking supporters of Ukraine again? Of course you are – standard stuff for a Putin troll like you.

          • Andrew Chmile

            Go attack the UKRAINIAN language in ***UKRAINE*** again!!!

            You Ruski SCUMBAG *mole* !!!

            I see the “focusser1” faqqot has up-voted you….
            That Ruski ACCOUNT IS usually IN THE BS Ruski controlled “Disqus Channels”.

            Where you & the OTHER RUSKI scumbags belong….

      • Rafael Hernandez

        Wait, what? I mean do you seriously believe the krap you just posted? XD XD XD. Nevermind, it is a rhetorical question.

        • Alex George

          Its not a matter of believing it, but of it being objectively true. That is why you gave zero facts or arguments in support of your assertion about Ukraine resembling North Korea. It was an absurd assertion, and you knew that, so you didn’t attempt to justify it.

          Congratulations on yet again making Russia look bad, through your incompetence.

          Ukraine is successful economically, culturally, politically, diplomatically and militarily. None of which applies to North Korea, nor to that other pariah state known as Russia (and soon to be known as about a dozen different entities).

      • Bayethe

        How exactly are you measuring that military, economic, and political success etc, you refer to ?

        • Murf

          Economic:
          Ukraine’s GDP is up 2.2% for the first months of the this year. the 6th convective quarter of growth.
          The interest rate is down to 13%. from a high of 29% a year and a half ago.
          The foreign currency continues to grow and is now 17.1 Billion from a low of 8 billion.
          the Exchange rate has improved fro 27.30 USD to 26.36 in three months.
          State revenues are up 17%.
          The major companies such a Naftogaz are turning a profit of 2 million USD from a deficit of 500 million.
          Unemployment is down to 8.8%. Lower than France’s 10%.
          The IT sector contines to grow bt 25% annually.
          Politically:
          Visa free travel with the EU has been approved.
          The Association Agreement is on track now that the major issues with the Dutch have been resolved.
          Ukraine now has FTAs with China, Turkey and Canada.
          They are negotiating an FTA with Israel.
          Ukraine is a Major Non NATO Ally of the US.
          They currently have a seat at the UNSC.
          The EU AND the US have continued to affirm their support by maintaining Sanctions against Russia.
          Miltarily:
          The Novo Rossiy Project was held to only 45% of Donbas.
          Russian troops in Donbas have not made a successful attack since March of 2015.
          The Army has been expanded to 250k battle hardened troops 60% of which are contract soldiers.
          The Airforce is being modernized.
          Work has recommenced on the new frigate Prince Vlodymir. Additional ships are being add to the fleet or refurbished. New modern Naval facilities are being built to replace the out dated one in Crimea.
          A new ammunition plant will be built starting this year.
          The Armor Institute of Kharkiv has been reopened.
          The first Ukraine team to participate in the Strong Europe Challenge ranked 5th out of 6 and scored 3 in tank gunnery.
          Culturally:
          Ukraine won the Eurovision 16 contest and hosted the 17.
          A Ukrainian movie was nominated for an Academe Award.
          Other movies are reaching the US market.
          Ukrainian language use is increasing as is English.

          • Bayethe

            So you call Poroshenko begging for a ceasefire in Debaltseve a success, you call driving around in hand me down American Humvees with canvas doors, while ISIS drive the latest models, a success. Ok then. I guess that is a success.

          • Murf

            Check your dates.Russia didn’t get their Pyrrhic victory AFTER the ceasefire. At the same time you lost 30 kms in front of Maripol and control o Pisky village.
            Since then you haven’t gained anything in multiple assaults. Except for Cargo 200s. Lots of them.
            Whats more Poroshenko has consistently out maneuvered Putin and avoided giving Putin the control over Ukraine he needed. all the while continuing to get support from the west and keeping sanctions in place.
            Last year Putin had to spend 2 billion DOLLARS supporting Donbas. At an average exchange rate of 60 to 1 that’s a 120 billion rubles.
            Now Russia can only afford a 3rd world health care system.

          • Bayethe

            You keep saying “you “. what makes you think I am Russian ?? Being an interested observer does not make me Russian just because I do not agree with you.

          • Murf

            You have been standing up for Putin and Russia for a very long time Bayethe. That makes it YOU.

          • ak47

            Ukraine is the poorest state in europe, deindustrialized and depopulated. It is also a neo-nazi dictatorship waging a war on its own people, persecuting opponents, and conducting a campaign of political repressions and media censorship. It is the sick, neo-nazi beggar of europe soon to be consigned to the scrap heap of history.

          • Murf

            yep you Troll types have been singing that song for 3 years now.
            And yet they have had GDP growth for every quarter since 1Q15.
            They grew more in the last 4 months than Russia has in the last 4 years.
            In fact Ukraine was projected to grow 2.2% by the World Bank this year. They have reached that in the first 1/3 of the year.
            They used to be the most corrupt country in Europe according to Transparency International.
            Now they are tied for that distinction; With Russia. the difference being Ukraine is improving and Russia is stagnating. Like everything else in their country.
            Speaking to beggars. How much did Russia beg from Europe in the 90s?
            About 22.6 Billions dollars. The rubble still sank 34%.
            Here is an other interesting tid bit.
            China is about to invest $250 million in modernizing Motor Sich to facilitate the co production of Ukraine designed engines in China. I guess they don’t share your gloomy view of Ukraine’s future/
            China wont be needing Russian engines anymore will they?

          • ak47

            The neo-nazi ukraine is a failed state not too dissimilar to other countries invaded and destroyed by US and their NATO lackeys. Ukraine’s ministry of health stats show alarming depopulation with the death rate exceeding the birth rate 2.5 times. Add to this a mass migration to Russia where only officially 2.8m ukranians live and unofficially over 5m call Russia home. Soon impoverished and depopulated ukrane will be a neo-nazi reserve. The oligarch in chief pan president Porosh has already moved much of his wealth to his villa in Spain with his cash safely stashed offshore as the Panama papers revealed. You can regurgitate desperately the “good” news from the front a la Hitler’s triumphant news reels but the reality is that of waste laid to a once normal a country.
            Russia is a wealth of opportunity, calm and freedom compared to the next door CIA experiment gone wrong.

          • Murf

            Except Transparency International ranksRussia and Ukraine tied. Ukraine improved 2 pts. Last year.
            Russia has been stagnate like everything else.

          • ak47

            Do not embarrass yourself and open the links I provided, lying dhead. Russia is tied with Spain and less corrupt that Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Bulgaria and 9 other countries. Your latest lie is a good example of all your diatribes – undiluted BS.

    • Tony

      Silly russian plays the victim card when his thoroughly disproved propaganda get blocked. Meanwhile in russia people get arrested for one man pickets and online comments and even mere ‘likes’, i.e zero freedom of speech.
      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37173820
      https://nypost.com/2016/05/31/russians-are-getting-years-in-jail-for-their-social-media-likes/

      • ak47

        Surely even a mind f*kd ape like you should know that the truth is the exact opposite to what the discredited propaganda mouthpeaces of bbc and nyt peddle. Humans, which you do not quality take it as read – anything coming out of western universally fake news and propaganda factories is the antithesis of fact and truth. So wipe your na zzi behind with your links, seppo.

  • zorbatheturk

    Great stuff. The derussification of Ukraine continues. The FSB maintain a monitoring station in the building in Moscow through which most RuSSian internet traffic passes. Source: The Red Web.

  • Tony

    A good serious blow to the russian world and their propaganda efforts. Once Ukrainians switch to Facebook and homegrown alternatives, they will not go back even if the ban is lifted. russian services just lost 40+ million users, ouch!