On 28 November 2023, Ukrainian press freedom groups Institute of Mass Information (IMI) and Detector Media said they had been targeted in a discreditation campaign launched by several anonymous Telegram channels popular in Ukraine. The channels, which have between 160 thousand and 2.5 million subscribers each, reportedly accused the press freedom groups of “sponsoring the war” and of “paying rubles” to Russian companies. Additionally, one of the channels, which has over one million subscribers, published a survey in which it asked its subscribers to “choose a way to deal with” IMI and Detector Media. In comments under the channel’s post, some users proposed to liquidate the groups or burn down their offices, IMI reported, while others sided with them and accused the Telegram channels of slander.

The apparent reason for the attack against IMI and Detector Media, the groups wrote, was a recent study they had carried out together highlighting the alleged threat posed by anonymous Telegram channels, which have been gaining in popularity as news sources in Ukraine, to the country’s informational security.

In a publication on Facebook, the representation of the European Union in Ukraine condemned the attacks against IMI and Detector Media. “Discreditation and pressure on free media is an unacceptable [form of] manipulating information,” the EU office in Ukraine wrote.

2 cases
Europe: Ukraine
Verbal, online or physical attack: Hacking/DDoS attack