With continued Russian military build-up around Ukraine’s borders, Vitalii Rubak talks about Russian disinformation and how Ukraine can tackle it.
Vitalii, who is chief analyst at Internews Ukraine, outlines his analysis based on the following questions:
- How does Russia use disinformation to undermine Ukraine’s resilience?
- How effective is this effort?
- What could be done to strengthen the resilience of Ukrainian society against aggressive information?
The video was produced by Public Interest Journalism Lab.
In Ukraine, complex and fluid internal dynamics are in motion as a result of the ongoing struggle between the system of old rules and vested interests on the one hand, and a strong demand and pressure from society and a new generation of policymakers for new rules on the other.
The Ukraine Forum brings together a dynamic group of stakeholders, including politicians, practitioners, civil society leaders, academics and journalists to examine the political situation in Ukraine.
For much of the month, the coronavirus crisis and the ongoing conflict with Russia were both temporarily overshadowed by a spate of forest fires in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone that generated lurid international headlines and plunged Kyiv into apocalyptic gloom. These blazes exposed Ukraine’s unpreparedness for such emergencies and served as a grim warning of what may lie ahead during the long summer months in a country parched by an abnormally warm winter season that saw record high temperatures and virtually no snow.
When news of forest fires in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone first started to emerge in the days following April 4, it took more than a week for it to become a hot topic on Ukrainian social media (no pun intended). With most Ukrainians already stuck at home in the fourth week of coronavirus quarantine, images began spreading of woodland blazes along with satellite maps indicating proximity to the infamous atomic energy plant. For many in nearby Kyiv, the fires brought back memories of the 1986 nuclear disaster and sparked fears of a new atomic threat as acres of radioactive woodland went up in flames.
When the wind changed direction and began blowing directly towards Kyiv, a dense and ominous smog almost completely enveloped the sprawling Ukrainian capital. With trademark gallows humor, some Ukrainians likened the grim scenes to the advent of a biblical plague and wondered whether the River Dnipro would soon turn red. The accompanying air pollution, however, was no laughing matter. By the middle of April, Kyiv had risen to first place among the world’s most polluted cities according to global air pollution ranking IQAir.
Kyiv’s scores of 380 and 429 on April 16-17 were more than double the pollution levels registered in Indian capital Delhi and other cities more traditionally associated with chronically poor air quality.
The Ukrainian Health Ministry responded to the smoky scenes by issuing somewhat redundant guidelines for Kyiv’s already quarantined residents to remain indoors and close their windows. While the smoke shrouding the city posed obvious health risks, authorities were quick to downplay fears of a radiation threat. Officials from Ukraine’s State Emergency Service assured that radiation levels remained within the normal range everywhere except for the areas closest to the fires inside the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone itself. These claims were corroborated by numerous independent third parties monitoring the situation including tour guide Kateryna Aslamova, who was taking radiation readings in Kyiv’s picturesque riverside Podil district at the height of the wildfires on April 15.
Ukrainians were quick to praise the efforts of the firefighters working in the Chornobyl Zone, but there was also concern over an apparent lack of sufficient manpower and equipment to extinguish the blazes. Since the forest fires first began, head of Chornobyl Tour Yaroslav Yemelianenko led calls for the authorities to take stronger action. He also became involved in a volunteer drive to support the firefighters, working with the Association of Chornobyl Tour Operators to deliver much-needed provisions. According to Yemelianenko, the April 2020 blazes were the largest in the history of the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. He said the severity of the wildfires underlined the need for a serious and comprehensive government response.
The global brand recognition that Chornobyl continues to enjoy meant April’s fires generated a flurry of international media coverage. Ukraine’s leaders were somewhat slower to react.
President Zelenskyy did not address the situation publicly until the tenth day of the fires following reports that the blaze was rapidly approaching the site of the former atomic energy plant. At around the same time, the Ukrainian parliament voted to significantly increase fines and penalties for anyone caught burning vegetation or breaching forest fire regulations. Meanwhile, sixteen days after the fires first began, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the launch of an operation to combat arson in the region’s woodlands.
The exact cause of the fires remains undetermined. Some have been quick to suggest that the fires may have been started deliberately in order to create a new front in Russia’s ongoing hybrid war against Ukraine and further destabilize the situation in the country. Others have pointed the finger at more mundane arson. The widespread practice of burning crop stubble and other vegetation is the most possible contributing factor.
While the debate continues over the causes of the wildfires, the consequences are already all too clear. Yemelianenko says the impact of the recent blazes has been disastrous for nature, history and tourism. All three are deeply intertwined. In the 34 years since the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone was largely abandoned following the April 1986 nuclear disaster, it has become home to a unique collection of wildlife and fauna. This thriving ecosystem is now in grave danger.
Denys Vyshnevskiy of the Chornobyl Biosphere Reserve says valuable plant life and many smaller species may have been lost in the recent fires, which left large areas of woodland devastated.
The fragmentary nature of the blazes gives reason to hope that some animals survived, with larger species including the zone’s rare Przewalski’s wild horses along with wolves and bears managing to flee.
The ecologist argues that fires pose an unacceptable threat to the future of the zone not only because of the physical damage done to the forest, but because of the potential to cause spikes in radiation.
The Association of Chornobyl Tour Operators is now raising money for firefighters and residents in and around the Exclusion Zone who lost their homes in the fires. With international interest in Chornobyl tourism currently at record highs thanks to the global success of HBO’s 2019 TV miniseries “Chernobyl”, it is hoped that routes can be adapted and restored to enable the continued expansion of the local tourism industry despite recent damage.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Ukraine is currently ill-equipped to deal with major forest fires. This is particularly alarming given the extremely dry conditions throughout the country. The Ukrainian authorities would be well advised to learn the lessons of April’s Chornobyl fires and prepare for more of the same during the coming months. Government officials should also follow up on recent EU offers to provide international assistance in combating future forest wildfires.
This article was first published by the Atlantic Council
On the surface, there is nothing interesting in Ukraine’s fight against coronavirus. Although we don’t know what will happen next, something in Ukraine’s reaction to the virus deserves a second look.
On the surface, there is nothing interesting in Ukraine's fight against coronavirus. At this point, the country has been hit less by the virus than many other countries in Europe have. It does not even enter the top-30 in terms of the number of cases detected; its total death toll just passed 100 (with the daily toll mostly ranging between 5 and 10), compared to over 20,000 in the US, close to 20,000 in Spain, Italy and France, or over 3,000 in Germany.
Although we don't know what will happen next, something in Ukraine's reaction to the virus deserves a second look. The key thing: the country was incredibly fast to introduce a strict quarantine. It was introduced on March 11 when only 1 (!) case was detected. Ukraine closed its borders in mid-March, when the number of reported cases was below 10, with just 1 person dead from the virus.
This early action can be explained simply: Ukrainians are afraid of threats. They are used to them, they face them too often, and understand that sometimes you need to act quickly. Ukrainians enjoy little feeling of protection, a high feeling of a security vacuum and often prefer to act too early instead of too late.
Yevhen Hlibovytskyi, one of Ukraine's most wide-thinking intellectuals, likes to repeat that Ukrainians are perhaps the world's champions in survival. Security and safety values are those which Ukrainians share regardless of their region and which cross language, identity, religion and economic discrepancies.
According to World Values Survey's regular reports, Ukraine remains high in rational values, compared to traditionalist values; but low in terms of self-expression values, and much more inclined towards survival values. This means that Ukrainians, although more rational than we think them to be, will rather choose survival than development.
This is understandable given the peculiarities of Ukraine's history. Ukraine lost about 4 million people in Stalin's artificial famine in 1932-1933; about 1 million died in both the famines of the early 1920s and 1946-47. During World War II its population was reduced by a quarter: about 10 million people, of whom 3-4 million people died as Red Army soldiers; and out of 6 million Holocaust victims, 1 million come from Ukraine. Millions were also victims of the Soviet GULAG, as the Ukrainian intelligentsia was practically annihilated in the 1930s, and many prominent dissidents were sent to the GULAG after Khrushchev's short-lived Ottepel.
Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Ukrainian Donbas in 2014, and practically everyday news about deaths on the frontline ever since, merely added to this major feeling of insecurity that penetrates Ukrainian society. Add to this not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also recent forest fires in the Chornobyl area, during which Ukrainian society lived in fear that nuclear waste stores in the area would be affected.
The security vacuum is both external and internal. From outside as Ukraine lacks a security umbrella enjoyed (at least theoretically) by NATO member states, and from inside, as a Ukrainian citizen often sees law-enforcement services as an additional threat rather than protection.
There is a Ukrainian proverb that says it is better to overestimate a threat than to underestimate it. This was the logic behind the strict quarantine that was introduced so early.
Curiously, it is religion that could provoke spiraling in the number of coronavirus cases. Even more curiously, it comes from the Russian church in Ukraine (UPC-MP). Earlier, its Archbishop Pavel, head of Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra, said that "one should not be afraid of" the epidemic and that the faithful should "hurry to church and hug one another". Not surprisingly, Lavra became one of the hot spots of the virus in Kyiv. Just recently, Metropolitan Onufriy, the head of the UPC-MP, said its churches will hold Easter Sunday services on 19 April -- contrary to quarantine measures and to calls made by other churches (including the newly-established Ukrainian autocephalous church) to stay home. If church attendance is not limited, crowds of people will go to churches on Easter Sunday and face huge risks of virus infection.
What happens this Sunday will also be a test as to how rational Ukrainians are, and whether survival instincts are strong enough to keep them at home.
However, if the security mindset succeeds, it might pose a global question for the future. Namely, should security logic dominate over liberty logic? Should "liberal" openness be victimized and blamed for the pandemic?
It is already being blamed by neo-authoritarian actors who see the pandemic as an additional argument to blame democracy and openness. It is increasingly used by Russian propaganda against the democratic world. With the coronavirus pandemic we are entering a new global debate, where liberal democracy will be brutally attacked.
In this situation, it is important that countries and communities make a clear distinction: more security does not mean less democracy. Limitations of freedom are tolerable when necessary for public health and public safety, but not as a tool to solve all other problems.
The need for a balance between security and freedom, which was stressed by many thinkers in Ukraine over recent years, needs to be real. A balance where freedom is the necessary and unavoidable pole, and security is regarded as the tool to protect our lives and our key values -- including freedom itself.
This material was first published by Ukraine Verstehen
In its fight to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country, the Ukrainian government may sacrifice one of the country’s biggest assets since the Euromaidan Revolution, its culture. While the Ministry of Finance plans to cut funding in 2020 by 7 billion hryvnias, UkraineWorld sums up why representatives of the country’s creative industries believe it might lead to a disaster.
On 27 March, thousands of Ukrainians joined an online-protest called "No To the Destruction of Culture". The initiative came as a desperate response to the government's plan to cut state budget expenditure and reallocate money to combat the spread of the coronavirus in Ukraine.
However, those working in the country's cultural sector warn: cutting vital funding for, inter alia, the cinema, books, and development of tourism will turn into a great loss, both on a personal and national scale. Here are some key thoughts from the representatives of Ukraine's cultural sphere, who oppose the decision to cut budget funding of culture:
JULIA SINKEVYCH, GENERAL PRODUCER OF THE ODESA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
We see that governments in more developed and even less developed countries are creating funds of support, instead of cutting the budget for culture. They even exceed the planned budgets, despite the situation [with coronavirus] in the world.
The UK has unveiled an emergency 160 million pounds response package for its cultural sector, Germany rolled out 50 billion euro aid to support creative industries, Italy allocated 130 million euro aid [for the film and theatre industry -ed.].
MYKOLA KNIAZHYTSKIY, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE ON HUMANITARIAN AND INFORMATION POLICY
Our Committee has stood unanimously against the budget cuts for Ukrainian culture, regardless of the party that each member belongs to. People who are quarantined should have something to watch and read, besides the fact that other essential sectors need support.
We should remember that, in addition to the virus, we have another war in the East of Ukraine.
It's obvious, if we won't deliver our own cultural product, this niche will be taken by Russian products of culture.
We are aware that many cultural events will not take place due to the quarantine in Ukraine and abroad. These expenses can be cut and allocated for healthcare workers or other social needs. However, we have to support national cinematography in different ways. For example, by launching a competition through the Ukrainian Cultural Fund or the State Film Agency for people to write scripts, and give them the opportunity to prepare future movies.
Last year, the Ukrainian Book Institute allocated 100 million hryvnias for books in libraries. This year, this number was reduced to 20 million hryvnias and only for children's books. No one cares about publishing houses and bookstores.
We also have to think about our regions. Ukraine has cut funding for local budgets, and cutting expenses for culture is the first thing they do at local level.
ANNA MACHUKH, CO-FOUNDER AND THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE UKRAINIAN FILM ACADEMY
The mission of our Academy is the popularization of Ukrainian culture, but now we are talking about saving it in general.
The survival of the nation, with even a short downtime in culture, is under threat. The downtime for even a year might throw us back for a minimum of several years.
From the period of 2006-2010, we had 1-2 movies maximum. In 2011, there was no Ukrainian movie screened in the cinema. In the period of the so-called Renaissance of Ukrainian cinematography, 2010-2019, we had more than 100 movies released. We are not talking about quantity but already about quality. We showed that Ukrainian cinematography has its place on the international landscape.
More than 10,000 people, who work in the movie industry alone, will be left with no means to live without support from the government.
PAVLO SUSHKO, DEPUTY HEAD OF SERVANT OF THE PEOPLEFACTION IN PARLIAMENT
As a member of the Ukrainian Parliament and Chairman of the Cinematography and Advertising Subcommittee, I find the situation with reducing financing of the culture and film sector unacceptable.
When we have just heard about possible cuts, and we are united in the Committee. Here are some of the economic and social consequences that will come:
1) breaking of creative industry enterprises;
2) decrease in export of creative industry goods;
3) increasing unemployment in the field of film production, tourism, book publishing;
4) loss of human potential.
5) reduction of the general level of culture of the population of Ukraine > increase in crime rates and "social" diseases;
6) the lack of perception of the policultural nature of Ukrainian society and a general decline in the level of patriotism;
7) slowing down the processes of development of civil society institutions, etc.
IRMA VITOVSKA, UKRAINIAN ACTRESS
It is like a nightmare from the 90-s. I am an expert of the Ukrainian Cultural Fund, where many projects are now suspended in uncertainty. But cinematography is a difficult sphere in terms of technical assets, which we had grown.
We should look for ways to compromise. Culture creates a moral code, which is important in times of challenge like the coronavirus pandemic. This is a challenge and a marker that will detect many things in society.
We do not know what the atmosphere outside will be, so the moral code that culture gives is important so as not to allow people to fall into despair.
One year of downtime can count for ten for those people working in cinema. It is a question of information security, creativity, and competitiveness. For me, as an actress, the downtime is very critical. We might lose everything we have been acquiring for so long.
The global coronavirus pandemic is a daunting challenge for Ukraine, which has been trying to reform its healthcare system. Its civil society, volunteers and private business have stepped up as usual. UkraineWorld looked into how they are uniting their efforts against the spread of COVID-19 and supporting the country’s most vulnerable.
As Euromaidan and Russia's war against Ukraine have shown, Ukrainians know how to take on imposing adversaries, though this time the enemy is invisible. While the government is expecting humanitarian assistance from China and financial help from international funds, the country's people are doing their part. Since the start of the quarantine on 17 March, numerous private and public initiatives have sprung into action to help the country's healthcare workers, elderly people and those with disabilities.
As of the end of March, Ukrainian hospitals, together with clinics being repurposed into treatment centers, have had less than 4,000 ventilators in Ukraine, according to Ukraine's Chief Sanitary Doctor, Dr. Viktor Liashko.
The urgent need for ventilators and basic protection for medical staff has prompted the private sector to come to the rescue of the country's healthcare system.
Ukraine's top private postal service, Nova Poshta, was one of the first companies to act. The company donated 25 million hryvnias (899 425 USD) to equip hospitals in Poltava Region. "Business in our country has never had ideal circumstances," the co-owner of Nova Poshta, Volodymyr Popreshniuk, stated, "But now it's about survival and saving jobs." The founders urged other businessmen to join, and many have. FC Vorskla and the mining company Ferrexpo have agreed to help financially.
Corporate charitable and social actions have become a rescue force in cities across Ukraine. In Lviv, Ukraine's tourist gem of the west, one of the biggest IT companies, SoftServe, directed 10 million hryvnias to hospitals for medicines, equipment and everything necessary in cities which host its offices. Other industry peers have followed their example, including Intellias, which created a special team to track the pandemic situation in Ukraine and pledged to buy coronavirus 10 000 test kits.
At the national level, banks, large businessmen and even oligarchs have joined the fight against the virus. PrivatBank and the founder of Monobank have raised and sent money to buy ventilators for hospitals. Many have started to provide free consultations, free online courses and discounts to ease life for those who have to work or those who are helping the situation by staying home.
In Odesa, a volunteering group called Monsters Corporation is helping local hospitals alongside business and philanthropists. The head of the organization, Kateryna Nozhevnikova, regularly reports on the situation on her Facebook. Volunteers have already supplied thousands of pieces of protective gear and basic sanitary items, and started to help the elderly people who are most at risk.
"In Odesa, there are 5 500 pensioners in need of special care. And there is no way they can leave their houses," posted Yulia Kanazirska, the coordinator of the project Kind Dinner. The anti-crisis centre in Odesa Region, Odesa vs. COVID, mobilised local businesses to supply those most vulnerable with groceries and everyday needs. This is also the main mission of organizations like Starenki [Elderly -ed.], Lifelover, the Sant'Egidio community and Help a Homeless Person.
Different groups of volunteers are also trying to counter the shortage of face masks by sewing them. Some of the initiatives started to help supply Ukrainian soldiers with clothes and equipment in the frontline in 2014 are now raising money for protective gear and ventilators, as well as sewing face masks to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
While dozens of NGOs and newly-emerged initiatives such as Solidarnist have been making every effort to counter the spread of the infectious disease, local governments around Ukraine were forced to respond to the challenge of the coronavirus.
Kyiv alone has more than 12 000 elderly people living by themselves to take care of. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitaliy Klychko, said the city has organized the delivery of groceries, medicines and hygienic necessities for lonely pensioners.
Similar steps have been taken in other regions. For instance, in Rivne Region, the administrative council decided to provide people with disabilities as well as the elderly with all they need to prevent them from coming into contact with other people. Ukraine has also tried to involve its state enterprises. The postal service UkrPoshta and Liki24.com have launched free delivery of medicines to Ukraine's remote villages and towns for the period of quarantine.
Once the quarantine began, public transport was severely limited and soon suspended due to the emergency situation. For this reason, Lviv city council even made an agreement with car services Uklon, Bolt, and Uber to provide free rides for healthcare workers at hospitals that treat patients with the coronavirus. At the end of March, Kyiv Uber Shuttle transformed into Shuttle Heroes, and is providing healthcare workers with free trips with promotional codes distributed through healthcare administrations and the state online service.
Even before the formal measures, Ukrainian car drivers had started to offer free rides for healthcare workers since the start of quarantine measures.
In Kyiv, Chernivtsi, Lviv, Rivne and other regions, they instantly created messenger channels and Facebook groups to help medical personnel get to their workplaces. Andriy Didun, a local businessman from Uzhhorod (Zakarpattia Region), was the first to take this initiative when the public transport was suspended in Uzhhorod. Today, "Pick up a Medic" (or "Help a Medic") is a common act of solidarity across Ukraine that helps healthcare workers to do their jobs.
Despite the coming financial calamity, small businesses have not stood on the sidelines. Together with other entrepreneurs, Didun, who sells mobile phone accessories, managed to raise money and buy necessary protective gear and basic things for infectious disease departments and hospitals.
"The infectious clinics had nothing -- neither gloves, nor masks, nor special clothes," he shared with UkraineWorld. He found the situation with protective clothing difficult because there was a lot of speculatory purchasing on the Internet. "This gear protects against chemicals, not viruses. But we can use it if there are no other options. I have friends in regional hospitals, and the situation is catastrophic there," Didun added.
The personal urge to help is where corporate solidarity started. Khrystyna Zhuk from Lviv decided to hang an announcement in her neighborhood. "I wrote that I could go to the grocery store or the pharmacy, that I would walk dogs and cats for people in high-risk groups, pregnant women, or those suffering from coronary artery disease." Not many asked for her help. "Since the situation is not critical yet," Zhuk assumes, "probably not many people are taking it seriously".
Nevertheless, as the head of the marketing department of La Piec pizzeria, Zhuk started her company's free pizza deliveries to infectious disease clinics and emergency hospitals in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk and Vinnytsia. "When I saw that they were delivering pizza to doctors for free in Italy, I thought it was a brilliant idea!" she recalled to UkraineWorld. "And that's what we're doing now".
Internews Ukraine experts have prepared a comprehensive overview of Ukrainian media sphere (https://medialandscapes.org/country/ukraine) for the Media Landscapes project launched by the European Journalism Centre (EJC), in partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW). We have selected ten key facts from the research.
1. Television is the most popular medium in Ukraine. According to a research by InMind for Internews Network, 77 percent of Ukrainians watch television at least once per month, while 74percent use TV channels as their weekly source of news.
Online media are the second most popular in Ukraine, as 60 percent of Ukrainians visit news websites at least once per month and 57 percent use the Internet as their daily source of news.
Radio is the second least popular medium in Ukraine. Only 26 percent of Ukrainians listen to the radio at least once per month, and 25 percent use it as their daily source of news.
Print media are dragging behind all other media in terms of audience. Only 21 percent of Ukrainians read print media at least once per month - this figure has declined by 10 percent since 2016. Only 16 percent of Ukrainians use print media as their weekly source of news.
2. The landscape of trust across the country heavily reflects the current political and security situation of Ukraine. According to recent polls, 66.7 percent of Ukrainians trust voluntary organisations, 64.4percent trust the Church, and 57.3 percent trust Ukraine's armed forces and other military and paramilitary formations. The level of trust in the media equals 48.3 percent.
TV is the most trusted medium - 56 percent of Ukrainians trust regional TV channels and 61percent trust national TV channels. Online media are almost as trusted as TV: 52 percent of Ukrainians trust in regional news websites, while 58 percent trust in national websites.
Radio is the second least-trusted medium, with 34 percent of Ukrainians trusting national radio stations and 39 percent thinking local radio stations tell the truth. Print media are the least trusted in Ukraine. Only 35 percent of Ukrainians trust regional print outlets, while 33 percent trust the national newspapers.
3. The most popular Ukrainian media have clear links to politicians and political parties, as they belong to oligarchs who are often involved in politics directly or indirectly. These links are the strongest in the TV sphere.
All top TV channels belong to different oligarchs: Ihor Kolomoyskyi controls 1+1, Rinat Akhmetovowns Ukrayina (Ukraine), while STB, ICTV and Novyi Kanal (New Channel) belong to Victor Pinchuk, son-in-law of former Ukraine's President Leonid Kuchma. Inter TV channel is a part of Inter Media Group which belongs to Dmytro Firtash and Serhiy Liovochkin. Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk, who is closely linked to Russia's President Vladimir Putin (his daughter's godfather), allegedly controls 112 and NewsOne TV channels, the most popular news channels in Ukraine.
4. Since 2014, the Ukrainian TV sphere has developed mainly in the information direction. New channels such as Hromadske (Civic), Espreso, 112, NewsOne and Priamyi (Direct) are focusing exclusively on news and talk-shows about politics, economy and society. However, all these channels, except for crowd-funded and grant-funded Hromadske (Civic), are private and have a non-transparent ownership structure. Meanwhile, independent outlets, like said Hromadske(Civic) or Hromadske radio (Civic radio), or more niche are influential in their segments, although they still cannot compete for massive audiences with oligarchic TV channels.
5. Ukraine has no influential broadcaster to counterweight the oligarch-owned media. Suspilne(Civic), the public broadcaster, has been launched on 19 January 2017. The aim was to provide an independent source of unbiased information, without financial or administrative influence by the state.
The issue has been pending for the last twenty years so far, although the first tangible progress in this respect was achieved in 2014, once the Law On Public Television and Radio Broadcasting was adopted. Its implementation, however, has protracted in the absence of the state authorities' political will as well as continuous underfunding.
6. As use of the Ukrainian language was hampered during Tsarist and Soviet periods, the Ukrainian government tries to provide the national language with regulatory support. Thus, it launched a campaign aimed at strengthening the role of Ukrainian language in media. To this end, language quotas have been introduced for TV channels and radio stations.
For licensed television and radio companies, the transmission of European productions, and also American and Canadian productions, should make up at least 70 percent of the total weekly broadcasting between 07:00 and 23:00. Out of these hours, at least 50 percent of the total weekly broadcasting must be of Ukrainian production.
Meanwhile, radio stations are obliged to air at least 30 percent of songs in Ukrainian language.
7. Ukrainian media sphere is designated as "partly free" by Freedom House's Freedom of the Press 2019 report.
One of the problems is that attacks on media professionals and houses are occurring. On 20 July 2016, a prominent Belarusian-Ukrainian journalist, Pavel Sheremet, was killed in a car explosion but those responsible have not been found yet.
Manipulations with media have also happened. On 29 May 2018, media reported that Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist who moved to Ukraine, was killed. The next day it turned out that Babchenko was indeed alive and his "murder" was a decoy for security services to catch a killer, allegedly linked to a broader plan by Russian security services to murder journalists and activists working in Ukraine.
8. The Internet plays a significant role in the everyday life of Ukrainians. According to the 2018 Factum Group Ukraine research, 21.35 million of Ukrainian citizens (65 percent of the country's population) are regular Internet users. 21.9 million (67 percent) have Internet connection at home.
The average Internet-user resulting from this study is female (52 percent), 25-34 years old (28percent), lives in a city with population of 100,000 and more (44 percent). As many as 27 percent of Ukraine's Internet users live in villages and 28 percent live in small cities. The only social group which does not use Internet often is people aged 65+ which constitute only 4 percent of Ukraine's Internet-users.
9. Facebook is the dominant social network in Ukraine with few real opponents. Russian social networks VKontakte (In contact) and Odnoklassniki (Classmates) used to be the most popular, but things changed dramatically in May 2017 when Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, on the basis of a decision by Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, imposed sanctions on some Russian Internet services.
According to the study conducted by InMind for Internews Network, 57 percent of Ukrainian social network users are on Facebook (37 percent back in 2016), 21 percent are on VKontakte (In contact; 49 percent in 2016), 15 percent are on Odnoklassniki (Classmates; 40 percent in 2016). Twitter is only used by 8 percent of Ukrainians who are into social networks (12 percent in 2016). Up to 42 percent use Facebook to get news, while 8 percent do this on VKontakte (In contact), 4 percent on Odnoklassniki (Classmates) and 2 percent on Twitter.
10. Given that Ukraine's legislature in the media sector is relatively vague, its practical implementation can be characterised as sporadic, multidirectional, inconsistent, unbalanced and non-transparent. Existing laws are predominantly declarative and therefore insufficient in their regulative function, which results in their failure to translate into specific, effective policies.Instead, these declarative laws often overlap and duplicate each other, leading to ineffectiveness at best and legal impasses at worst.
Most of the laws have been developed based on their Soviet prototypes, and as such they are not entirely up to date to the new trends in the sector. Legislation on online media is virtually nonexistent. As a result, there is a major gap in national law which leaves online media neither regulated nor protected.
By studying and supporting the Ukrainian media sphere, Internews Ukraine helps to build a vibrant and prosperous society. Our competencies include not only conducting media monitoring and preparing analytics, but also coordination with national and international media, developing communication or information strategies and media campaigns.