In Lviv a young man was conditionally sentenced to 2.5 years for propagandizing communist ideology
In Lviv, the court found a young man, who propagated communist ideology and distributed photographs and other materials with symbols of the communist regime in Facebook social network, guilty and him to a 2.5 year imprisonment with a probation period of 1 year.
As reported by the press-service of the Prosecutor’s Office of Lviv region.
According to the press-service, the young man has committed criminal offense under Article 436-1 part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (production, distribution of communist, Nazi symbolism and propaganda of communist and national-socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes).
“For the purpose of propaganda of communist ideology, during May 2015 – April 2016, he distributed photos and other materials with symbols of the communist regime and well-known slogans of that time through the Facebook social network, which is strictly prohibited by the Law of Ukraine “On the Condemnation of the Communist and National-Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and the Prohibition of Propaganda of their Symbols”, – noted in the press-service.
The police sent the indictment to the court. Given that the young man pleaded guilty and assisted the investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office made an agreement with him on recognizing his guilt, which was approved by the court on May 4 and sentenced to 2 years 6 months of imprisonment with a probation period of 1 year.
At the same time, Roman Romanov, Director of the Human Rights and Justice Program Initiative of the Renaissance Foundation, believes that the law on which the young man was convicted does not meet the principle of legal certainty. Therefore, sanctions for certain actions described in the law are inadequately tough.
“Although the law can be considered as such that pursues legitimate aims, it is not precise and exact enough for the person with reasonable confidence to anticipate in advance the lawfulness or illegality of his actions and in order to prevent arbitrary interference of public authorities”, – said Romanov on his Facebook page.
Referring to the Venice Commission and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE, he cites recommendations aimed at improving the Law.
First, to ensure clarity and specificity, the law should contain a less extensive and exhaustive list of prohibited symbols. There must also be a clearly defined concept of propaganda, especially when it is used to criminalize certain actions.
Secondly, the relevant provisions should be linked to specific crimes, and not simply point to the “criminal nature” of the regime as a whole, which is too vague.
Thirdly, only those actions that pose a real threat to society should involve criminal responsibility, which should be proportional to the gravity of the crime committed.
“Simply demonstrating the symbolism or using the name should not be punished by imprisonment”, – emphasized Romanov.
Finally, the law should clearly state that the prohibition of any association is an extreme measure, which can only be resorted to in exceptional cases, in proportion to the gravity of the crime. This applies, first of all, to political parties in the light of their important role in a democratic society.
As a reminder, on May 15, 2015, President Petro Poroshenko signed four laws: “On the Condemnation of the Communist and National-Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and the Prohibition of Propaganda of their Symbols”, “On the Access to the Archives of Repressive Organs of the Communist and Totalitarian Regime of 1917-1991”, “On Perpetuation of the Victory over Nazism in World War II of 1939-1945” and “On the Legal Status and Honoring the Memory of Fighters for Ukraine’s Independence in the Twentieth Century”.
These documents prohibit Soviet symbols, condemn the communist regime, open archives of the Soviet special services and UPA and other organizations are recognized as fighters for Ukrainian independence.
International experts have repeatedly noted the vagueness of the wording of the Law “On the Condemnation of the Communist and National-Socialist (Nazi) Totalitarian Regimes in Ukraine and the Prohibition of Propaganda of their Symbols”. It prohibits the propaganda of communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes, and criminalized the production, distribution and public use of the symbols of these regimes. It also introduces strict responsibility for the production, distribution and public use of such symbols.