Kyiv, July 29, 2014. Speaking at a press conference at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv today, Kateryna Kotenko, a member of the National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine, reminded Ukrainians that the Russian government is waging an information war against their country. “For the first time we are protecting ourselves” against the information war, she said. In this environment, she explained, restrictions are needed on the ability of Russia to disseminate propaganda on Ukrainian territory.
Kotenko referenced a particularly fictitious story about Ukraine, debunked by independent journalists, that was aired on Russia’s Channel One TV and was widely disseminated throughout the country. According to the Russian report, Ukrainian troops crucified a child in the recently re-captured city of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine. “This is not a myth, this is a cruel fantasy,” explained Kotenko. In this environment, Kotenko thinks that appropriate measures should be taken in order to protect Ukraine against harmful Russian propaganda.
Kotenko acknowledges that “some accuse us of not being very democratic.” However, she says that measures must be taken to ensure that censorship is prohibited. “We are talking not about the talk that we might dislike because we are irritated as patriots and citizens,” but instead falsified propaganda. The National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council of Ukraine reminds the media to follow Ukrainian law, which prohibits advocating separatism or terrorism. Several Russian media sources have been banned from broadcasting in Ukraine because of their role in disseminating falsified propaganda to Ukrainian viewers. The cases are presently in the Ukrainian court system, which will resolve whether these media companies will be able to broadcast again in Ukraine.
Kotenko claims that Ukrainian efforts have been successful at changing the behavior of Russian media and in countering Russian propaganda. For example, Russian media no longer “says junta” to refer to the Ukrainian government, but instead “they say Kyiv authorities.” Media sources have also stopped referring to fighter-controlled territory as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and now refer to the territory as the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Kotenko explained that most broadcasters have been responsive when issued warnings about violating Ukrainian law.