Ukraine to jail people over Russian passports
A law proposed by the government in Kiev on Friday would see some Ukrainians who obtain Russian passports punished with lengthy prison terms. Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk insisted the measure is not aimed at ordinary Ukrainians, but officials who work with the “enemy state.”
The draft calls for a sentence of 10-15 years for any local or regional government employees who accept an “enemy” passport. Engaging in “propaganda for an enemy state” would carry a sentence of 5-8 years, while “compelling” Ukrainian citizens to accept an “enemy” passport would be punishable by 8-12 years behind bars.
Any Russian citizens engaging in “illegal passportization on the territory of Ukraine” would also be subject to these penalties, said Vereshchuk, whose portfolio is “reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories.”
She added that this type of law “should have been passed in 2014.” After the US-backed coup in Kiev in February that year, Crimea voted to rejoin Russia, while the Donbass regions of Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence. Kiev brutally suppressed protests in the Kharkov and Odessa regions, while sending the army into Donbass.
Ukraine has been working on the draft since July, after blasting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to implement a fast-track citizenship procedure for any citizen of Ukraine. Many residents of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions have since availed themselves of the opportunity.
Earlier this month, Vereshchuk threatened anyone who would organize or participate in a vote to join Russia in the “occupied territories” with up to 12 years in prison and a confiscation of property, under the existing “collaboration” statute.
Last week, after Ukrainian troops moved into several cities in the Kharkov Region, following a “redeployment” of Russian forces, Vereshchuk announced that any teachers who had used the Russian curriculum would also face criminal charges. Meanwhile, Ukrainian state police said that “a reckoning” was coming for any civilians suspected of “collaboration” and set up “filtration” operations in the northeastern region.