Cyber experts with the SBU Security Service of Ukraine have recorded an increase in the activity of Russian intelligence and their human asset networks in Ukraine.
Since the start of quarantine, the SBU has blocked over 2,300 Internet communities with a total audience of over 980,000 users, as well as exposed 323 online agitators who distributed various fake news about the COVID-19 epidemic, according to the SBU press center.
At least sixteen of the identified agitators acted on the instructions of the Russian side.
According to SBU operatives, such activities have been on the rise recently. The aggressor state is trying to apply a variety of manipulation techniques to sow chaos and panic, the SBU stresses. In particular, pro-Russian agitators spread fake news about the events marking Victory Day over Nazism in World War II, forced quarantine, and other measures related to compliance with safety rules imposed to tackle the COVID-19 spread.
Russian trolls have been widely calling on Ukrainians to ignore quarantine restrictions, urging people to take to the streets to protest bans.
With respect to 16 agitators acting on the instructions of the Russian side, the SBU launched criminal proceedings for actions aimed at infringing on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, forcibly changing or overthrowing the constitutional order or seizing state power.
The perpetrators exposed had been operating from in Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Lviv, Kherson, Poltava, Kropyvnytsky, Konotop, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Khmelnytsky.
The SBU urges netizens to remain vigilant and pay special attention to cybersecurity and online hygiene measures. Also, they call on Ukrainians to only trust information coming official sources.