Ukraine Tests Technology to Block Propaganda Channels in Conflict Zone
4 August, 2017
Photo credit: NSDC

Ukraine has tested a system for blocking television and radio propaganda broadcasts on the front line of its war with Russia-backed separatists.

The country's National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) announced that it has blocked several Russian or separatist-controlled channels from broadcasting in the wartorn region.

“This system makes it possible to effectively block anti-Ukrainian TV and radio broadcasts that spread separatist and pro-Russian propaganda without disturbing Ukrainian channels' work,” said NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov.

NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov. Photo credit: NSDC

But experts say it doesn't really block the channels; it simply creates "noise" that disrupts the signal.

“The technology doesn’t entirely block the channel, but interferes with its broadcast. This, in turn, impedes [televisions and radios from] receiving the proper signal,” Alexander Gluschenko, a media specialist, told Hromadske.

According to the NSDC press service, the technology is currently being tested. Roughly four months will be needed to launch the system throughout the conflict zone, said Leonid Yevdochenko, who heads the State Special Communications and Information Protection Service.

However, broader efforts to block pro-Russian broadcasts might actually play into Russia's hands.

Moscow can appeal to the International Telecommunications Union and allege that Ukraine is unreasonably blocking their signal, said Alexander Fedienko, head of the Internet Association of Ukraine.

"And de jure they will be right, because we haven't declared a state of war with Russia," he said.

In response, Russia can block all coordination and agreements with Ukraine for violating the ITU statute, Fedienko added. The agreement obligates members "not to cause harmful interference to the radio services or communications of other Member States."

Ukrainian TV and radio signals reach 80 percent of government-controlled territories in the Donbas region. According to 2016 research by the GfK Ukraine firm, only 16 percent of television viewers in Ukrainian-controlled areas get their news from Russian channels. Meanwhile, people in the separatist-controlled areas largely watch Russian TV.

In September 2016, Ukrainian media reported that several Ukrainian television channels had been blocked in separatist-held areas.

On May 28, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree to block access to Russian social media sites "VKontakte" and "Odnoklassniki."

/by Liuda Kornievych