Ukraine

[UA] Limiting freedom of information in times of war

IRIS 2022-3:1/2

Andrei Richter

Center for Media, Data and Society, School of Public Policy, Central European University (Budapest)

On 3 March 2022, Ukraine’s parliament, the Supreme Rada, adopted a set of 14 laws that aim to counteract Russian aggression. They include two laws that envision amendments and additions to the current legislation on information activity. The laws are currently with the President of Ukraine to be published and enforced by him.

Among the envisioned changes is the ban on print and broadcast mass media justifying or legitimising a denial of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine which began in 2014, in particular through its representation as “an internal conflict”, “civilian conflict”, or “civil war”, or the denial of Russian occupation in parts of Ukraine. The ban extends to the glorification of people who have taken part in the armed aggression in particular through their representation as “insurgents”, “civil militiamen”, or “polite armed men,” as well as of those taking part in the de facto administration of the occupied territories.

The Criminal Code of Ukraine now has two new articles. Article 435-1 introduces liability for threats to and insult of military servicemen and their families, as well as for the production and dissemination of relevant information materials. Article 436-2 introduces liability for the justification or denial of Russian military aggression, in particular by presenting it as a civil conflict; justification or denial of the occupation of Ukrainian territories; glorification of those who have taken part in the aggression by Russian Army personnel or irregular armed formations, and those who take part in the administration of the occupied territories. Prohibited also is the production and dissemination of relevant information materials.

The penalty for the above crimes – depending on the circumstances of the case – is an arrest for up to 6 months or imprisonment for up to 8 years.


References

  • Закон про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України (щодо заборони виготовлення та поширення інформаційної продукції, спрямованої на пропагування дій держави-агресора
  • http://www.golos.com.ua/article/357226
  • The Statute on amendments to certain legal acts of Ukraine – as to production and dissemination of information products that aims to promote actions of the aggressor State, bill of 18.02.2021 adopted 3 March 2022 (2109-IX)

  • Закон про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України (щодо посилення кримінальної відповідальності за виготовлення та поширення забороненої інформаційної продукції
  • http://www.golos.com.ua/article/357227
  • The Statute on amendments to certain legal acts of Ukraine – as to strengthening criminal liability for the production and dissemination of the banned information), adopted 3 March 2022, (2110-IX)

This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.