Ukrainian MP denies link between chatbot blocking and criticism of Russian propaganda on Telegram

Rada comments on blocked chatbots on Telegram
Rada comments on blocked chatbots on Telegram

Blocking of chatbots used by Ukrainian special services on Telegram is unrelated to Kyiv's criticism of Russian propaganda on the messenger, Chair of the Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech, Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, said on Facebook on April 29.

Following the sudden blocking of official bots belonging to the Defense Intelligence (HUR) and Ukraine's SBU Security Service, numerous real accounts and bots attempted to justify this action by referencing recent critiques of Telegram.

"A strange example of the Stockholm syndrome," MP Yurchyshyn said.

“Something like explaining the deployment of Russian troops by the need to protect Russian speakers.”

Read also: Telegram to block certain content for Ukrainian users

Ukrainian authorities successfully blocked Russian propaganda on Telegram, potentially drawing ire from Russian special services, which could have pressured Telegram to "block anything related to military operations in Ukraine."

"It is logical to expect that a part of society will perceive this not as an attack by the Russian special services, but on the principle of 'you shouldn't have criticized'. It is very easy to calculate," the lawmaker added.

There are alternative channels to communicate with the HUR, the SBU and other special services. For instance, military intelligence has channels on Signal and WhatsApp messengers.

On April 28, Telegram inexplicably blocked the Main Intelligence Bot of the HUR along with several other official bots combating Russian aggression against Ukraine. Earlier, the Ministry of Digital Transformation had reported the blocking of the eVorog bot, the official SBU bot, a coordinator bot from southern Ukraine, and an air defense bot for tracking Shahed drones.

A number of unofficial bots were also suspended.

Potential Telegram ban in Ukraine

Verkhovna Rada registered a bill "On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Regarding the Regulation of Information Sharing Platforms through which Mass Information is Disseminated" on March 25.

Its initiators proposed introducing regulation of the Telegram platform.

One of the authors of the document, MP Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech, said that the legislature could ban representatives of state and local government agencies from having official accounts on social media, which are classified as non-transparent.

Read also: Ukraine's top spy Budanov advocates for Telegram regulation, not mere influence or pressure

During the Kyiv Stratcom Forum 2024 on March 27, the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Kyrylo Budanov, said that Telegram is a problem for Ukraine in terms of national security as it often has a destructive effect inside the country.

SBU spokesman Oleksandr Melnychenko said on March 28 that Telegram cooperates with Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor and the FSB. And if the FSB needs to block any channel on the territory of the Russian Federation, "Telegram executes these instructions instantly."

Telegram received a list of potentially problematic channels from Ukrainian authorities on April and is reviewing them. The Center for Countering Disinformation mentioned Ukraine's ability to influence Telegram founder Pavel Durov to limit specific channels in Ukraine.

Telegram founder Pavel Durov stated on April 24 that Telegram received a request from Apple to block certain channels for Ukrainian users. The messenger team agreed to comply.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron!

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine