Misinformation, propaganda, diversity of public opinion, manipulation, psychological and psychotropic pressure, and rumors are the instruments which have accompanied Russia’s actions on the other “frontline” in the information war against Ukraine.
We still don’t have the instruments to counter the spread of propaganda narratives and influence the perception of Ukrainians in this hybrid war. Because of this, we are virtually unable to defend ourselves in the information space, and do not have clearly defined principles based on international practices and standards.
Back in 2014, the Government of Ukraine reacted by banning some Russian nationalist and/or state controlled media, workers, and potential destabilization agents in Ukraine. Such actions were supported by most Ukrainians but criticized by Russia and some of its supporters in the international community. This has led to the accusations of attempts to limit the right to freedom speech in the country.
Therefore, the lack of legal standards and policies appropriate to the circumstances in which Ukraine found itself became a critical challenge for the country. To this end, a team of international and Ukrainian law and freedom of speech experts began their work in 2017, and started analyzing current international law to create new principles for the protection of freedom of speech and the press, which take into account the issue of national security in the context of an informational war.
The production of this document is currently approaching the finish line. There recently was a roundtable with the participation of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports of Ukraine, and international experts on law and freedom of speech at the Kyiv Mohyla School of Journalism with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation.
Hopefully, these developments will prove useful not only in concrete attempts to counteract Russian propaganda and misinformation, but also in forming a legislative framework that will regulate this field.