It is necessary to fight disinformation and media bullying in Ukraine, - a round table participant decided

On September 20, 2023, a round table was held in the conference hall of the National Hotel (Kyiv, Ukraine) on the topic: “Countering disinformation and media bullying as a tool for protecting human rights: external and internal threat factors during the time of Russian aggression against Ukraine.” The discussion took place on the initiative of the Assembly of Nationalities of Ukraine. Representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine, the National Police of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor's Office, the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, other government bodies, experts and journalists spoke at this scientific and practical event.

The conference was opened by the Head of the Assembly of Nationalities of Ukraine Rovshan Tagiyev, who noted that the problem of paid disinformation campaigns and media cartels today requires special attention from the public and law enforcement agencies. After all, there is no effective legal or judicial protection mechanism in Ukraine today. Dirty and often anonymous information campaigns against representatives of big business, politicians and public leaders can last for years. At the same time, law enforcement agencies do not have sufficiently effective tools, and legal disputes last for years. This leads to the fact that the Ukrainian economy loses significant financial investments, trust between people, and relations between society and the state are destroying. Regarding how these challenges can be countered, Rovshan Tagiyev proposed introducing significant financial fines for disinformation and media bullying, as well as possibly creating the position of a media ombudsman to protect human rights. The US experience can also be used.

Director of the Ukrainian Institute of Politics Ruslan Bortnik noted that any public figures are always slightly limited in their right to privacy, since the media in a free and democratic country have every right to discuss their lifestyle.

But we are talking about specially paid information campaigns, the purpose of which is not only to destroy the image of public opinion leaders, but also to create political crises, strife and conflicts within Ukrainian society. And often information leaks occur from the outside to provoke a situation of “war of all against all” and weaken society and the state.

Our enemies play a great role in the formation of such splits between different groups of elites of Ukrainian society. Therefore, it is extremely necessary to be able to competently resist such processes. In particular, unpunished information attacks on public opinion leaders sooner or later transform into state leaders (the President, ministers, deputies and heads of law enforcement agencies). Then these problems create certain state crises, forcing under pressure to make certain decisions that are not beneficial for the state.

Bortnik also proposed considering the possibility of creating a public platform for pre-trial mediation of conflicts between the media and public figures under the National Council of Ukraine on Television and Radio Broadcasting.

People's Deputy of Ukraine Sergei Taruta focused on the fact that today in the process of countering information attacks the system actually does not work. The issue needs to be resolved at the legislative level, a working group can be assembled with the involvement of journalists and legislative initiatives must be developed, which the Parliament will subsequently have to consider and adopt.

Chairman of the WI CC Foundation (“We are an international coordination center”) from the USA, Vice President of ANU Nachman (Joseph) Steinberg, spoke about examples of the use of dirty information companies in Ukraine against large foreign investors, which led to the loss of significant investments for Ukraine. Nachman Steinberg spoke in favor of strengthening the legal and judicial responsibility of customers and performers of such companies, without which it will be difficult to create a favorable investment climate in our country

Director of the Ukrteleradiopress Institute, Doctor of Pedagogical Sciences, Secretary of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, Gleb Golovchenko believes that it is also necessary to improve the qualifications of media workers. The Ukrteleradiopress Institute and the NUJU, for their part, will participate in the process of all initiatives to combat the spread of various types of disinformation and media bullying.

Advisor to the Director of the State Scientific Institution "Institute of Information, Security and Law of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine" Alexander Shamara noted that the topic of hybrid threats that arose as part of Russian aggression against Ukraine should be discussed, including at the level of national experts and experts of the European Union. In particular, he proposed holding a major scientific event with the participation of scientists and specialists from the EU and Ukraine on this issue.

The editor-in-chief of Ukrmedia, Oleg Vyacheslavsky, said that he submitted an application to the SBU, where he indicated 1,700 so-called. "dirty sites" of Ukraine, but, unfortunately, this had no practical effect. The issue is not resolved at the legislative level. In particular, in Ukraine there is no law on libel, which generally leads to negative consequences in this regard. And all the media belong to someone and defend primarily the position of the beneficiary, while the journalists themselves are practically not protected.

The head of the People's Bureau of Investigation, Vladimir Bukach spoke about the severity of the problem of existing threats to journalists when conducting investigative journalism.

Arthur Brednov, Advisor to the Head of the Odessa CAA, emphasized that the issue of effectively countering customized information attacks is also extremely important from the point of view of national security. Therefore, representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine, the Main Intelligence Directorate, as well as the National Police must certainly be represented in the working group for the development of relevant legislation.

The representative of the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting believes that any restrictions on freedom of speech to ensure national security should be based on the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. Regarding legislative initiatives to counter information attacks, as well as various kinds of distortions in the media, he noted that even in the countries of the European Union there are very few countries where these issues are legally regulated.

In general, the conference participants came to the conclusion that it is necessary to try to regulate the issue of countering information attacks and disinformation at the legislative level and make appropriate changes to the legislation of Ukraine, so that the problem of the spread of various types of disinformation and media bullying could be resolved at the first stages, and not during several years, as is happening now.

For this purpose, a special working group will be created, which will include journalists, representatives of the public and law enforcement agencies (National Council, SBU, GUR, as well as the National Police). The developed legislative initiatives can subsequently be considered and adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. It is also necessary to improve the skills of media workers.

The issue of countering information attacks and disinformation needs to be discussed at the level of experts of the European Union. It was proposed to hold a major scientific event with the participation of scientists and specialists from the EU, as well as Ukraine, on this issue (tentative date - February - March 2024)



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