Ukraine arrest
Image: Security Service of Ukraine

Ukrainian sentenced to 15 years in prison for spreading Russian propaganda

A Ukrainian man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for creating and spreading Russian propaganda, according to Ukraine’s security service (SBU).

The suspect, a resident of Ukraine’s central city of Poltava, was the head of a local nonprofit that promoted Kremlin ideology, the SBU said.

According to the investigation, he received more than $6,000 from Russian intelligence for creating over 60 social media posts in which he discredited Ukraine and its military and denied Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.

Ukraine’s authorities accused the suspect of high treason and justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its war crimes.

Earlier in April, the SBU identified another local supporter of the Kremlin who was sharing Russian propaganda on Ukrainian television even before the war and later became a supporter of the invasion, allegedly collaborating with Russian intelligence.

According to the SBU statement, he also helped the Russian military to blow up cellular towers of Ukrainian telecom operators.

In January, the SBU detained an alleged member of the pro-Kremlin hacker group known as the Cyber Army of Russia. The hacker is suspected of launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Ukrainian state websites and of leaking strategic information, like the whereabouts of Ukrainian troops, artillery, and air defense systems, to the Russian military.

The detention of Ukrainian citizens allegedly recruited by Russia to spy or spread propaganda has been a common occurrence during the war.

Many of them work as part of so-called “bot farms,” which spread online disinformation using fake or automated social media accounts.

One such farm, busted by local law enforcement last June, allegedly managed over 4,000 fraudulent accounts pretending to belong to Ukrainian citizens. These accounts were used to criticize the Ukrainian armed forces, justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and create political tension in the country, the police said.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.