Halyna Budivska
Adrienne Warren
Paweł Lickiewicz
Paweł Purski
Maciej Zaniewicz
Jana Oparij
Tomasz Kobylański
Matteo Cazzulani
Wojciech Jakóbik
Gabriela Sieczkowska
Krzysztof Kolanowski
Nikolai Holmov
Alisa Fluhrer

Ukraine: Twist in Web War

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Hackers won with the government as media reported after Ministry of Internal Affairs – in response to web attacks against governmental sites – unblocked access to the popular file sharing service ex.au. Some are of opinion that in fact authorities are behind the commotion over the portal.

Logo serwisu Ex.ua, źródło: www.tokarskiyura.com

Ex.ua logo, source: tokarskiyura.com

On 31 January, Ukrainian militsiya closed ex.au, a popular Ukrainian portal, on the grounds of illegal distribution of files and computer programmes. Internet users stroked back and paralyzed websites of governmental institutions. This scenario resembles the shutdown of Megaupload, a file hosting service, in the US. But here the similarities end.

Shortly afterwards, highly placed politicians in governmental structures came to defence of the service, i.e. Nina Karpachova, member of Party of Regions and the government’s human rights ombudswoman, and Alexander Yanukovych, son of the President. After three days since the shutdown of the service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVS) informed on unblocking the service. This sudden “rise from the dead” brings up questions about why authorities, who had not bowed to international pressure in relation to Yulia Tymoshenko’s case, or from a massive crowd protesting against the pension reform, decided to back down this time.

According to a high-ranking civil servant of Ukrainian MVS whom Zerkalo Nedeli weekly interviewed, closing ex.au was a political gesture of Kiev towards Washington. Right before the shutdown, Ukrainian Minister of Finance Valeriy Khoroshkovsky paid a visit to Washington, with a goal of obtaining a credit from the International Monetary Fund. “If the militsiya had wanted to close the black market offering pirated content, it would have done it a long time ago, along with the Petrivka market (one of the biggest markets in Ukraine with books and record – author’s note)”.

The weekly’s source revealed the reasons for unblocking the service: “This time we can say that for MVS the protests and attacking governmental websites became an excellent excuse to listen to society’s opinion and to unblock the website”. Ukrainska Pravda, while conducting its own investigation, wrote that so far the owner of the hosting service remains unknown, and actions of authorities are similar to a “good cop, bad cop” technique, used to divert citizens’ attention. As for the cause of such behaviour Viktor Levandovsky, leader of Association for Internet Space Development in Ukraine, has no doubts: “Frequently, on the pretext of fighting against piracy, authorities launch raids on companies to take them over. The ex.au case was about replacing the owner of the service”.

Another version – a personal intervention of the Fuhrer:

Source: Zerkalo Nedeli [1], [2], Ukrainska Pravda [1], [2], [3], [4], Bussiness New EuropeDeutsche Welle

Translated by KD

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