Findings of analysis of Internet blocking in Ukraine (March 2019)

Methodology of testing

Testing of Internet blocking was conducted by the NGO Digital Security Lab Ukraine with the help of Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) software. The monitors used the OONI Probe application installed on their Android or iPhone mobile devices.

OONI allows creating own list of websites for testing through OONI Run service. Three lists were created for testing. The list for the non-occupied territories of Ukraine contains 264 websites mentioned in the decrees of the President of Ukraine on sanctions. The list for the occupied parts of Donbas contains 162 Ukrainian websites, and the list for the annexed Crimea, 92 Ukrainian websites. All lists were compiled with activists and human rights defenders.

Testing was conducted in March 2019 in 24 cities on non-occupied part of Ukraine (Vinnytsia, Dnipro, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhia, Kiev, Kramatorsk, Kryvyi Rih, Kropyvnytskyi, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lutsk, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Poltava, Ternopil, Kharkiv, Kherson, Khmelnytskyi, Rivne, Sumy, Uzhhorod, Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Chernihiv). Testing in Kyiv and Chernivtsi were not taken into account in March due to technical problems and incompleteness.

On the occupied parts of Donbas, the testing was conducted in Donetsk, Luhansk, Snizhne and Torez. In the annexed Crimea, in Sevastopol, Simferopol, Kerch and Dzhankoi.

A total of 70 Internet providers were tested.

In each city, the monitors determined the popular local Internet providers. Then, once a week they tested blocked websites from the list during a month. Collected data is automatically downloaded to OONI servers and available for analysis for everyone concerned. Internet security data tests collected by Digital Security Lab are also available here.

The study is supported by Open Technology Fund.

Findings for the non-occupied territories of Ukraine

Internet providers Kyivstar, Datagroup, Volya and Mykolaiv-based provider WildPark block 240 websites included in the National Security and Defense Council’s sanction list. At the same time, 20 Ukrainian providers do not block even a half of the list.

The following websites are included in the list of resources that are blocked by all Internet providers that were tested:

https://browser.yandex.ru

https://browser.yandex.ua

https://delivery.yandex.ru

https://kassa.yandex.ru

https://market.yandex.ru

https://market.yandex.ua

https://metrika.yandex.ru

https://metrika.yandex.ua

https://money.yandex.ru

https://partner.yandex.ru

https://partner.yandex.ua

https://radio.yandex.ua

https://rasp.yandex.ru

https://site.yandex.ua

https://speechkit.yandex.ru

https://telephony.yandex.ru

https://www.kinopoisk.ru

https://xml.yandex.ru

https://xml.yandex.ua/

At the same time, not all Ukrainian Internet providers block websites of Crimea, temporarily occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and Russia. For example, less than 15 providers do not restrict access to such resources: crimea.gov.ru, sprav.yandex.ua, dnr-life.ru, WebMoney platforms, websites of the so-called “ministry of transport of the DPR,” “ministry of health of the DPR” and “council of ministers of LPR.”

According to Digital Security Lab, there are 20 Internet providers in Ukraine that do not block even a half of the sanction list.

There are also providers that blocked websites in different ways depending on the region. For example, during one of the weeks in March one of the tested providers in the city of Dnipro did not block 185 sanctioned websites, while in other cities, there were only 4–5 non-blocked websites. On the first week of March in Kherson the same provider did not block 183 websites.

In addition, some Ukrainian providers did not block popular Russian platforms Odnoklassniki, mail.ru, yandex.ru, which are among the TOP-25 most visited websites by Ukrainians. For example, in March, one provider in Odesa did not block Odnoklassniki and mail.ru. The mail.ru platform was also not blocked by one provider in Uzhhorod and Zaporizhia. Yandex.ru was not blocked during two weeks of March by seven providers in Dnipro, Cherkasy, ​​Kharkiv, Poltava, Kryvyi Rih, Rivne and Zhytomyr.

The least number of providers (less than 15) block the following websites:

https://crimea.gov.ru

http://donmintrans.ru

https://wmsc3.webmoney.ru

https://sprav.yandex.ua

https://wmsc1.webmoney.ru

https://wmsc2.webmoney.ru

https://wmsc4.webmoney.ru

http://Sovminlnr.su

https://arbitrage.webmoney.ua

http://minzdrav.govdnr.ru

http://dnr-life.ru

A complete list of blocked websites on the non-occupied territories of Ukraine is available here.

We recall that the President enacted three decisions of the National Security and Defense Council on sanctions (#133/2017, #126/2018, and #82/2019) that inter alia contain “prohibition of Internet service providers to provide access to certain web-resources.”

In the fall of 2018, the representatives of FreeNET Ukraine Coalition tried to find out what criteria are used to ban certain websites. However, both the National Security and Defense Council and the SBU then refused to provide such information. The District Administrative Court of Kyiv is currently investigating a lawsuit concerning violation of the right to access public information.

Earlier, FreeNET Ukraine Coalition published the legal analysis of economic sanctions related to introduction of “a ban on Internet service providers to provide Internet users with access to certain Internet resources/services, including subdomains.” It was confirmed that this practice is not in line with Ukrainian and international legislation.

Findings by regions of Ukraine

Vinnytsia

In Vinnytsa, the largest number of websites listed by the National Security and Defense Council are banned by Internet providers Volya and Datagroup. Popular Russian platforms VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and others are blocked by all local providers that were tested.

A total of six main Internet providers in the city were tested. They block 67, 88, 139, 207, 244 and 245 sanctioned websites, respectively.

Dnipro

In Dnipro, it is the Internet provider Volya that bans the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council. At the same time, two local providers did not ban yandex.ru.

It is interesting that in one of the weeks, the Internet provider Kyivstar did not block 185 sanctioned websites in Dnipro, while in other cities, there were only 4–5 resources not blocked by Kyivstar.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, VKontakte, Mail.ru, Kinopoisk are blocked by all Internet providers of the city of Dnipro that were tested.

A total of four main Internet providers of the city were tested.

Zhytomyr

In Zhytomyr, the largest number of websites listed by the National Security and Defense Council are blocked by the Internet providers FreeNet (239), Datagroup (243) and Kyivstar (246). At the same time, on certain weeks in March, yandex.ru and social network VKontakte was accessible to users.

Popular Russian platforms Odnoklassniki, Mail.ru, Kinopoisk were blocked by all Internet providers of Zhytomyr that were tested.

A total of five main Internet providers were tested there.

Zaporizhia

In Zaporozhia, Internet providers do not block even a half of the websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council. One local provider did not block mail.ru in March.

Popular Russian platforms Odnoklassniki, Mail.ru, Kinopoisk were blocked by all Internet providers of Zaporizhia that were tested.

A total of four Internet providers of the city were tested. They block 68, 76, 94 and 96 websites respectively.

Ivano-Frankivsk

In Ivano-Frankivsk, it is FreeNet provider that bans the largest number of websites listed by the National Security and Defense Council.

Popular Russian platforms Odnoklassniki, mail.ru, Kinopoisk are blocked by all Internet providers in Ivano-Frankivsk that were tested. In the first week of March one of the providers allowed users to access VKontakte. Other providers blocked this social network.

A total of three main Internet providers of the city were tested. They block 110, 113 and 243 websites respectively.

Kryvyi Rih

In Kryvyi Rih, the largest number of websites from the National Security and Defense Council’s list are blocked by Internet providers Datagroup and Volya. However, one local provider did not block yandex.ru in March.

A total of four main Internet providers of the city were tested. They block 53, 140, 249 and 250 websites respectively.

Popular Russian platforms Odnoklassniki, mail.ru, Kinopoisk were blocked by all Internet providers in Kryvyi Rih that were tested.

Kropyvnytskyi

In Kropyvnytskyi, it is the Internet provider Volya that bans the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council. Popular Russian platforms Odnoklassniki, Vkontakte, mail.ru, Kinopoisk, yander.ru were blocked by all Internet providers in the city that were tested.

A total of four main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 138, 214, 214 and 244 sanctioned websites, respectively.

Lutsk

In Lutsk, the largest number of the websites listed by the National Security and Defense Council are banned the Internet providers Volya (249), Datagroup (249) and Kyivstar (252). Two other providers block 159 and 216 websites.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, VKontakte, mail.ru, Kinopoisk, yandex.ru are blocked by all Internet providers in Lutsk that were tested.

A total of five main Internet providers of the city were tested.

Lviv

In Lviv, the largest number of websites from the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet providers Volya (249) and Kyivstar (252).

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, VKontakte, mail.ru, Kinopoisk, yandex.ru are blocked by all the providers that were tested there.

A total of six main Internet providers of the city were tested.

Mykolaiv

In Mykolaiv, the largest number of websites listed by the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet providers Kyivstar (252) and Wild Park (243).

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, mail.ru, yandex.ru, Kinopoisk that are among the top-websited visited by Ukrainians are blocked by all Internet providers in Mykolaiv that were tested. At the same time, it was documented that one provider let its users access VKontakte. Other providers blocked this social network.

A total of four main Internet providers of the city were tested.

Odesa

In Odesa, it is the Internet provider NENET that bans the largest number of websites from the National Security and Defense Council’s list.

Popular Russian platforms VKontakte, Kinopoisk, yandex.ru are blocked by all Internet providers of Odesa that were tested. At the same time, it was documented that Odnoklassniki and mail.ru were accessible through one of the providers.

A total of four main Internet providers of the city were tested, they ban 121, 159, 161 and 193 websites, respectively.

Poltava

In Poltava, the largest number of websites listed by the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet providers Volya and Kyivstar.

Popular Russian platforms VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Kinopoisk, mail.ru are blocked by all Internet providers in Poltava that were tested. At the same time, yandex.ru was accessible through one of the providers.

A total of five main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 104, 164, 229, 249 and 251 sanctioned websites, respectively.

Rivne

In Rivne, the largest number of websites are blocked by the Internet providers Volya, Kyivstar and Datagroup (248, 246 and 244, respectively).

Popular Russian platforms VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Kinopoisk, mail.ru are blocked all by all Internet providers that were tested in Rivne. At the same time, yandex.ru was accessible through one of the providers.

A total of six main Internet providers in Rivne were tested.

Sumy

In Sumy, the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet provider Volya.

Popular Russian platforms VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Kinopoisk, mail.ru, yandex.ru are blocked by all Internet providers tested in Sumy.

A total of three main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 158, 168 and 244 websites, respectively.

Ternopil

In Ternopil, the largest number of websites from the list are blocked by the Internet providers Volya (246) and Kyivstar (252). Provider Lanet blocks 226 websites.

Popular Russian platforms VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Kinopoisk, mail.ru, yandex.ru block all blocked by all Internet providers tested in Ternopil.

A total of three main Internet providers of the city were tested.

Uzhhorod

In Uzhhorod, it is the Internet provider Electron Service that blocks the largest number of websites listed by the National Security and Defense Council.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, yandex.ru, Kinopoisk, VKontakte are blocked by all Internet providers tested in the city. At the same time, it was documented that mail.ru was accessible through one of the providers. Other providers block this website.

A total of five main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 81, 119, 151, 159 and 219 websites, respectively.

Kharkiv

In Kharkiv, the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet provider Volya.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, Mail.ru, Kinopoisk, VKontakte are blocked by all Internet providers tested in the city. At the same time, it was documented that yandex.ru was accessible through one of the providers.

A total of four main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 151, 233, 245 and 235 sanctioned websites, respectively.

Kherson

In Kherson, the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet provider Kyivstar.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, Mail.ru, Kinopoisk, VKontakte, yandex.ru are blocked by all Internet providers tested in the city.

A total of three main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 48, 244 and 246 websites, respectively.

Khmelnytskyi

In Khmelnytskyi, the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet providers Volya and Datagroup.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, VKontakte, mail.ru, Kinopoisk, yandex.ru are blocked by all Internet providers tested in the city.

A total of four main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 172, 209, 244 and 242 websites, respectively.

Cherkasy

In Cherkasy, ​​ the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet provider Volya.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, VKontakte, mail.ru, Kinopoisk are blocked by all Internet providers tested in Cherkasy. However, in the last weeks of March two of the providers did not block access to yandex.ru.

A total of three main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 221, 247 and 75 websites, respectively.

Chernihiv

In Chernihiv, the largest number of websites included in the sanction list of the National Security and Defense Council is blocked by the Internet provider Kyivstar.

Popular Russian platforms Odnokassniki, VKontakte, mail.ru, Kinopoisk, yandex.ru are blocked by all Internet providers tested in Chernihiv.

A total of three main Internet providers of the city were tested, they block 247, 145 and 68 websites, respectively.

Findings for Crimea

In March 2019, Digital Security Lab conducted testing in Simferopol, Sevastopol, Dzhankoi and Kerch in different places, where the Internet access is provided by the providers such as Lankom, Apex Crimea, KrymInfostroy, Djankoionline, Crimea Com South LLC, Bospor-Telekom. A total of 92 websites were tested, mainly Ukrainian and Crimean news media, as well as websites of human rights and non-governmental organizations.

Crimean Internet providers block at least 20 Ukrainian websites, including six that are not included in the official list of Roskomnadzor. The largest number of Ukrainian websites is blocked in the annexed Crimea by Internet providers in Dzhankoi and Kerch.

Users of Internet provider Bospor-Telekom in Kerch have no access to at least 14 Ukrainian websites of those tested (Censor.Net, Hromadske Radio, Lb.ua, Gazeta.ua, Glavkom, Glavnoe, Sled.net.ua, Linkedin, Uainfo, Obozrevatel, RBC, Ukrainian Pravda, Segodnia, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia).

Nine Ukrainian websites are blocked in Dzhankoi by CrimeaCom provider (Information Resistance, Events, QHA, Sled.net.ua, Meridian, Gordon, website of Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR, UA:First, charitable organization Crimea_SOS). In Simferopol, CrimeaCom users do not have access to the websites Sled.net.ua, Meridian, Events and the website of the channel ATR.

At the same time, users of other Internet providers in Sevastopol, Simferopol, Dzhankoi and Kerch providers have access to much more Ukrainian websites. Lankom (Sevastopol), Crelcom-Online, Djankoionline (Dzhankoi), KrymInfostroy (Simferopol), Apex Crimea (Kerch) block only one Ukrainian website — Sled.net.ua. There is still a number of websites that are not available from different providers, but so far, we cannot say that whether it is blocking.

It should be noted that Sled.net.ua is blocked by all Crimean providers that we tested.

Also, Digital Security Lab has documented that the Crimean Internet providers block at least six websites that are not on official list of Roskomnadzor. In particular, these are the websites of the TV channel UA:First (1tv.com.ua), Ukrainian human rights organization Crimea_SOS (krymsos.com), Ukrainian news site Gordon (gordonua.com), Crimean news sites QHA (qha.com.ua) and Meridian (meridian.in.ua) and the website of the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR. All websites are blocked by the provider CrimeaCom South in Dzhankoi. CrimeaCom is blocking meridian.in.ua and atr.ua both in Dzhankoi and in Simferopol.

Also, users of this provider do not have access to the websites of STB, New Channel and ICTV channels, but the Digital Security Lab has no certainty whether it is blocking. These websites may also not be available for other reasons.

We remind that in 2018, Internet providers of Crimea blocked at least eight websites (1tv.com.ua, ictv.ua, novy.tv, stb.ua, gordonua.com, qha.com.ua and meridian.in.ua and krymsos.com) that are not listed by the Roskomnadzor.

A complete list of blocked websites can be found here.

Findings for the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts

In March 2019, Digital Security Lab conducted testing in Donetsk, Lugansk, Snizhne and Torez (the territories temporarily not controlled by Ukraine) where the Internet access is provided by the providers such as DKT, Donbass Electronic Communications, Phoenix (Prima-Yug Service), Luhansk Home Networks, Telenet LLC, Luhanet, Mageal, Orion, Terra-line Torez, Triniti and Komtel. A total of 162 websites were tested, mainly of Ukrainian news media/

The largest number of Ukrainian websites are blocked by three providers of the so-called “LPR.” Mageal, Luhansk Home Networks and Luhanet block 132, 124 and 111 websites, respectively. All other providers block five times less websites (approximately 20–30).

On the occupied territories, it is the news website 62.ua that is blocked the most. It was banned by all nine providers that were tested — DKT, Donbass Electronic Communications, Phoenix (Prima-Yug Service), Luhansk Home Networks, Telenet LLC, Luhanet, Mageal, Orion, Terra-line Torez). The second most banned is the website of the 5th Channel. It was only Orion that did not block it.

News websites Donbas News, Censor.net, Obozrevatel, Radio Svoboda, Segodnya, Ostrov are blocked by all the providers except for Luhanet and Orion.

It is also worth noting that in the so-called “DPR,” there are two providers that do not block the Ukrainian websites that were tested.

A complete list of blocked websites in the occupied territory of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts is available here.

Digital Security Lab Ukraine will continue to test and track the dynamics of Internet banning in May, July, September, October and November 2019 with the support from the Open Technology Fund.

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