The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) exposed and shut down the network of Internet agitators and a sockpuppet farm in Odesa city. The offenders disseminated fake information aimed at inciting interethnic hostility and propaganda of separatism.

As the SBU press centre informs, the security officers established that five residents of Odesa were fulfilling orders from curators to film, publish, and disseminate fake information about the situation in Ukraine. It was planned that the stories would be shown in the Russian media. The perpetrators wanted to create the “needed information picture” just before and during the May holidays.

The offenders shared media materials through social networks, calling for violations of the territorial integrity and constitutional order of Ukraine and inciting interethnic hostility.

Investigators believe that the information materials would have created the preconditions for destabilising the social and political situation in the region in early May.

In addition, the SBU agents blocked the activity of a sockpuppet farm in Odesa city. It was used to disseminate anti-Ukrainian and other illegal appeals in the information space.

During the search, law enforcement officers found and confiscated computer equipment with special software installed, as well as telecommunications equipment.

Criminal proceedings were instituted over the offences, and an investigation is underway.

The day before, the press service of the President of Ukraine informed that Volodymyr Zelensky had endorsed the regulations on the Centre for Countering Disinformation (CCD) by his order.

According to the document, the Centre ensures counteraction to both current and projected threats to national security and national interests in the information sphere, detection and counteraction to misinformation, propaganda, destructive information influences and campaigns, as well as prevention of attempts to manipulate public opinion.

The CCD would also identify and study current and projected threats to Ukraine’s information security, the factors influencing their formation, and predict the consequences for national interests.

The Centre will provide the National Security and Defence Council with information and analytical materials on information security of Ukraine.

In addition, the Centre will participate in the development and implementation of the Information Security Strategy, analysis of the progress of its implementation, in particular the issues of combating disinformation.

Bohdan Marusyak

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