Why Ukraine Needs to Change its Approach to Punishing Russian Propagandists for Incitement to Genocide

Thursday, 30 November 2023

Russia's crime is an integral part of genocide and can be proven.

They made incitement to genocide against Ukrainians public.

The problem is that Ukrainian legislation does not provide simple and effective tools for holding accountable those Russians who call for the extermination of the Ukrainian nation. Although we all witness such genocide propaganda coming from Russia.

Read more on what needs to be changed to condemn this crime and why it is important in the article by Anna Vishniakova, the international criminal law specialist and the head of the NGO LingvaLexa – Ideologues of Genocide: How to Punish Russian Propagandists for Calls to Exterminate Ukrainians.

The horrific events of the Russian-Ukrainian war leave crimes related to anti-Ukrainian propaganda behind compared to murders, other violent actions, or collaboration.

Propaganda has created and sustains an environment where crimes against the Ukrainian people in Russia are not only tolerated but encouraged.

Because propaganda is a weapon.

Calls for extermination of the Ukrainian nation are a weapon that can realistically lead to genocide.

The crime of genocide was defined in 1948. Members of the newly formed UN then made a written agreement that a tragedy like the Holocaust should never happen again. So, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was born.

This document clearly states that calls for genocide are a separate crime and also entail punishment.

Armen Gasparian, Timofey Sergeyevtsev, Alexander Dugin, Sergey Mardan are just a few names of those who, through their speeches, books, and articles, not only justify the killings of Ukrainians but also call for their extermination.

Ukraine supposedly does not tolerate such statements.

These propagandists have been informed of suspicion. There are at least two verdicts on incitement to genocide: Russian propagandists Anton Krasovsky (who suggested drowning Ukrainian children in the river) and Yevgeny Pavlov (who called for killing all Ukrainian "nationalist-Banderites").

The quality of both verdicts, issued in absentia, is questionable.

The level of argumentation of these rulings does not meet international standards. But if Ukraine wants its ruling on the "crime of crimes" to be recognised worldwide, then the approach to should be different. Ukraine needs a thorough legislative basis where there is no need to break the law to prove obvious things.

So, are there effective tools now to punish propagandists?

The Criminal Code of Ukraine allows for the prosecution of calls for genocide, but there is a restriction on the prosecution of foreigners who do not reside in Ukraine and have committed a crime outside its borders. They are held accountable only if they have committed serious or the most serious crimes.

According to Ukraine's legislation, calls for genocide are considered a non-serious crime, which sounds absurd from the perspective of international standards and from the standpoint that calls for the extermination of Ukrainians are a form of weapon used by Russia in the war.

The first and simplest step should be the immediate consideration of a draft law to increase the penalty for incitement to genocide, which would classify it as the most serious crime.

And reasoned rulings issued in Ukraine will draw attention to this crime internationally.

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