On March 3, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) of Ukraine, in response to the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, adopted two new laws criminalizing any type of cooperation with an aggressor state. The new laws are Law No. 2108-IX on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts regarding the Establishment of Criminal Liability for Collaboration Activities (Criminal Liability for Collaboration Law), and Law No. 2107-IX on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts on Ensuring the Responsibility of Individuals Who Carry Out Collaboration Activities (Individual Responsibility for Collaboration Law).
The Criminal Liability for Collaboration Law establishes penalties for individuals under Ukraine’s jurisdiction for cooperating with an aggressor state, its occupation administrations, and its armed forces or paramilitary formations. (Criminal Liability for Collaboration Law art. 1.)
Overview of Amendments to the Criminal Code
Article 1, paragraph 4 of the Criminal Liability for Collaboration Law amends the Criminal Code of Ukraine by adding a new provision, article 111(1), on collaborationism.
The amendment includes in the definition of collaboration such activities performed by a Ukrainian citizen as public denial of the existence of armed aggression against Ukraine and of the temporary occupation of part of its territory; public calls for support of decisions and actions of the aggressor state; cooperation with the aggressor state, its armed formations, or its occupation administration; and the refusal to recognize Ukraine’s state sovereignty over the temporarily occupied territories.
These acts are punishable by deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities, and restriction of freedom (such as in house arrest) for 10–15 years, with or without confiscation of property.
Other amendments introduced by this law provide for criminal liability for the dissemination of the aggressor state’s propaganda in educational institutions and the implementation of actions aimed at promoting the aggressor state’s academic agenda (such as through history textbooks used in schools and research focused on foreign and security policies at academic institutions). The penalties for such offenses range from correctional labor for up to two years or restriction of freedom for up to six months to imprisonment for up to three years, with deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for a period of 10–15 years.
Under these amendments, it is unlawful to organize and conduct political events or take part in any information activities against Ukraine in cooperation with the aggressor state. These activities may include rallies, marches, demonstrations, conferences, and round tables. The prescribed punishment for violating these norms is the restriction of freedom for 10–12 years, with or without confiscation of property, and deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or engage in certain activities for a period of 10–15 years. (Criminal Liability for Collaboration Law art. 1, para. 4; note 2.)
The new article 111(1) of the Criminal Code, as provided for in article 1, paragraph 4 of the Criminal Liability for Collaboration Law, stipulates that supplying material resources to illegal armed units established by the aggressor in temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory and any economic activities in cooperation with the aggressor state are punishable by a fine or imprisonment for three to five years, restrictions on professional activities for 10–15 years, and confiscation of property.
In addition, citizens of Ukraine who voluntary hold a position related to the performance of organizational, administrative, or economic functions in “authorities, enacted by the occupying power” and who participate in organizing and conducting illegal elections or referendums in the temporarily occupied territory are punishable by a restriction of their freedom for five to 10 years, with or without confiscation of property.
Even harsher punishment of imprisonment for 12–15 years may be imposed on Ukrainians who cooperate with Russian judicial or law enforcement agencies, participate in illegal military formations created by Russia in Ukrainian territory, or assist in conducting combat operations against the armed forces of Ukraine.
Investigation of crimes prosecuted under article 111(1) of the Criminal Code are to be conducted by investigators of security agencies and include an extended term of pretrial investigation.
Major Provisions of the Individual Responsibility for Collaboration Law
The Individual Responsibility for Collaboration Law amends a wide range of Ukrainian laws, including laws pertaining to:
- Elections in Ukraine.
- Military duty and military service.
- State secrets.
- Political parties in Ukraine.
- Public associations.
- Freedom of conscience and religious organizations.
- Trade unions, their rights, and the guarantees on their activity.
- Participation of citizens in protecting public order and the state border, and in charitable activities and charitable organizations.
All these amendments establish the legal grounds for restricting rights of individuals convicted of collaboration with the aggressor state. According to the Individual Responsibility for Collaboration Law, such individuals will be prohibited from running for offices during elections at all levels, serving in the military, getting access to state secrets, and being formal representatives of presidential candidates and candidates in local elections. (Individual Responsibility for Collaboration Law art. 1, para. 1(1)–(3), (5)–(9).)
The amendments prescribe that individuals convicted of collaborative activities must not hold any significant positions in public offices or play meaningful roles in relevant institutions. (Art. 1, paras. 2(1)–(9).)
In addition, this law provides for the judicial procedure of liquidating legal entities whose representatives have been found guilty of collaborative cooperation with the aggressor state. (Art. 1, paras. 5, 6 & 8.)According to Ukrainian prosecutors, over 150 investigations into suspected collaboration with Russian forces have been opened since these laws came into force.