Online army: Ukraine seeks to recruit bloggers for ‘truth-telling’ crusade

Reuters / Yannis Behrakis
Kiev authorities plan to create a coordination center for Ukrainian bloggers to present a united front in social media, said Information Policy Minister, Yury Stets, adding that popular bloggers will become Ukraine’s “truth-telling” online army.

“You don’t need trolls and bots to deliver truthful information to those communicating on the internet. It is obvious for social network veterans,” Tass news agency reported Ukraine’s Information Policy minister, Yury Stets, as saying. "To do so we need to unite people influential in social media and they will tell the truth to everyone who reads them.”

The more bloggers, the better, as they will form Ukraine’s “web army,” the minister said.

The internet warriors will distribute reliable information about the situation in the warzone in the east of the country and will refute “false news” coming from the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the minister said.

Ukraine’s Information Policy Ministry was created in late 2014 to pursue information security in the country. Journalists immediately dubbed the new institution the “Ministry of Truth” after the propaganda ministry in George Orwell's novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four.”

The proposal has prompted an international outcry from journalists alarmed by the move. Kiev’s decision to create a Ministry of Information is a clear threat to media freedom in Ukraine, said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic.

READ MORE: Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth'? OSCE lashes out at Kiev’s new ministry amid journalists’ outcry

RIA Novosti / Evgeny Kotenko

In early December, the Information Policy Ministry announced the creation of an information warfare department.

Just days ago Ukrainian MPs of the ruling political bloc, headed by the country’s President Petro Poroshenko, proposed suspending the accreditation of all Russian journalists working in Ukraine, including employees of Russian TV channels and radio stations.

On January 23, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) reported that 88 extraditions of Russian journalists and people associated with the media had been carried out. Markiyan Lubkivsky, advisor to the head of the SBU, dubbed the expelled journalists propagandists, and said that “Ukraine’s attitude toward Russian propaganda should become more radical over time.”

In late November 2014, the SBU banned 83 Russian journalists from entering Ukraine. The list of persona non grata staff consisted mainly of employees of major Russian TV channels, RT included, as well as at least three radio stations.