On January 16, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the law on amendments to Art. 297 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine with respect to responsibility for the desecration or destruction of monuments erected in memory of those, who fought against Nazism during the Second World War - the Soviet soldiers, members of the guerrilla movement, the victims of Nazi persecution, as well as soldiers-internationalists and peacekeepers. Offenders face a fine up to 200 exemption amounts, arrest or custodial restraint up to six months.

For desecration of a common grave or a grave of Unknown Soldier offenders face 3-5 years of custodial restraint or imprisonment. If a crime is committed by previous concert or by a group of individuals, the punishment provides for custodial restraint for 4-5 years or imprisonment for 4-7 years. If such actions lead to grave consequences, offenders face imprisonment for 7-12 years.  

MPs also approved the law on amendments to the Criminal Code of Ukraine with respect to responsibility for denial or justification of the crimes of fascism. The offenders face a fine of 500-1 thousand exemption amounts, custodial restraint or imprisonment up to two years.

According to Kaletnyk, adoption of the document is dictated by numerous facts of public endorsement of Nazism and fascism, with attempts to deny or justify the crimes of fascism against humanity, committed during the Second World War.

ForUm has asked MPs and experts whether such innovations can protect monuments and keep young people from devotion to Nazism.

Ihor Alekseyev, author of the draft bills, first deputy head of the parliamentary committee on international legal issues:

- The laws are appropriate and well-timed. It is a European practice, and in Germany, for example, the punishment for such crimes is no milder. The society's heart has been bleeding for desecration of our military shrines long enough. But it is time to stop watching our history and heritage being destroyed, it is time to act.  

Valery Dubovyk, lawyer:

- In fact, the law provides for punishment for destruction of monuments to WWII heroes - up to five years of imprisonment. But we already have the law on protection of cultural heritage, which includes these very monuments, the punishment is milder though - up to three years. It turns out that monuments to the Great Patriotic War are given an advantage over other monuments. I have no doubts that such monuments are very important, but still they must be equalized with the others. I believe offenders must bear equal responsibility for destruction of both monument to Shevchenko and monument to Lenin.

As for propaganda of Nazism and fascism, it is a relative notion. It is practically impossible to prove in court that such propaganda took place. One may pounce on every word.

Volodymyr Oliynyk, MP from the Party of Regions, deputy head of the parliamentary committee on legal provision of law enforcement activity:

- There have been wars with monuments in Ukraine recently, and if monuments get destroyed deliberately and for stirring up national hatred, such actions must be legally evaluated. This draft bill concerns already erected and registered monuments.

Oleksandr Holub, MP from Communist party:

- Of course these draft bills will not immediately stop Ukrainian youth from desecrating monuments, but they will stop those who pay for such actions, provoke the society and carry out neo-Nazi policy under the state policy. Now MPs can be held responsible for their actions. We all know the names of those involved into similar crimes. And deputy immunity will no longer protect them.

Yevhen Leshan, political expert:

- It is hard to take a neutral position on this issue, the same as hard to understand how an adult and reasonable person can feel hostility towards war heroes, who saved the world from fascism. We speak about times when people sacrificed their lives for us to live free. Denial of this is manifestation of civil infantilism, similar to childish disobedience. But those who desecrate military monuments are evil "children", who must be punished.     

Vladyslav Lukianov, first deputy head of the parliamentary committee on entrepreneurship, regulatory and anti-monopoly policy:

- Presentation of the problem is correct. Everybody is tired of that any lumpen or drinker can come and muck up a monument to our soldiers or chant "Heil Hitler" on the central square fearing no responsibility just because we have democracy. In Germany, for example, such actions are followed by imprisonment, while in our country it is considered a manifestation of national consciousness and civil culture. It would be funny if it weren't so sad. It is time to put an end to this.

Oles Doniy, member of the parliamentary committee on culture and spirituality:

- Promoting such laws the authorities seem to act to spite the national democratic wing, which fights for recognition of UPA and other nationalistic movements. However, I admit that a part of the society is indeed unhappy with attacks on sacred images of heroes of the World War II. Moreover, fascism is not what we have to strive for. At the same time, we must clearly differentiate between fascism and fight for independence. Soviet authorities paltered with many facts, and now all political parties speculate on this issue as well.

Volodymyr Yavoryvski, MP from "Batkivshchyna":

- These are pure political laws, adopted for the specific segment of the parliament. In fact, the biggest problem of Ukraine is that many of its laws have been adopted either for a specific person or a specific political situation, like now.

Ihor Shvaika, MP from "Svoboda" faction:

- To comment on these bills we need to study them first, but nobody never set eyes on these laws.


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