President signs law allowing jail time for cooperation with Russia – Ukraine official
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a law that allows for the jailing of anyone helping Russia amid its ongoing military offensive against Ukraine, the deputy speaker of Ukraine’s parliament said.
Speaking to Ukraina 24 on Tuesday, Alexander Kornienko argued that the punishment should also apply to around 20 “unpatriotic” MPs, who he said have fled the country in the face of the Russian attack that began on February 24.
The law, which was passed by parliament in early March, provides for up to 15 years in jail for anyone helping “an aggressor state,” including making public statements in its support. This also includes voluntarily holding leadership positions in “illegal government bodies” on “temporarily occupied territories.”
Those found guilty of helping the enemy can be jailed for life if their actions lead to deaths or “other severe consequences.”
Ukraine’s State Investigative Bureau said last week that 38 high treason cases were opened against officials and police officers who defected to or worked with Russian troops.
Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to regularize the status of the breakaway regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two rebellious republics by force.
Several rounds of talks have been held, with the sides agreeing on evacuation routes from embattled cities. Alexey Arestovich, an adviser to Zelensky, said on Monday there was the possibility of a peace deal in the coming weeks.