Ukraine: ban on propaganda of soviet symbols

President Poroshenko signs legislation to "Decommunization", condemnation of Nazism and status of resistance fighters

Ukrainian President Poroshenko yesterday signed into law laws that, according to the news service Ukrinform, condemn the rule of the "condemn the communist and Nazi regimes in Ukraine" and criminalize the dissemination of their symbols.

Poroshenko signed into law a total of four laws that had already been passed on 9.April were adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in Kiev. The fact that they provide further fuel for tensions in the country is unmistakable.

According to the law "on the condemnation of the communist and national-socialist (Nazi) regimes in Ukraine and on the ban on propaganda of their symbols", which often uses the catchphrase "Decommunization" not only statues of Lenin and other monuments from the Soviet era must be removed, but also streets, squares and companies with names referring to the Soviet Union must be renamed.

Playing the anthem of the Russian Federation, for which under Putin the anthem from Soviet times was revived with a new text, can in the future be punished with imprisonment of up to one year.

Poroshenko during his speech on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of his death. Anniversary of the victory over National Socialism. Screen shot from an official video of the speech.

The "Institute for National Remembrance"

Another law stipulates that the KGB archives from the times of the "totalitarian communist regime from 1917 to 1991" be made publicly accessible. state, according to AFP, should be made available to the institute’s Ukrainian "Institute for National Thought" its.

Critics accuse the Institute of working with a tendentious view of history. Supporters of the institute, such as Jan Tombinski, ambassador and head of the EU representation in Ukraine, speak of the need to, "to create a narrative that fits the former Ukrainian society".

Historians express concern about whether academic texts that do not examine Ukraine’s Soviet period from a condemnatory perspective will fall under the ban. Critics speak of restriction of freedom of speech and censorship.

It is clear that the Institute for National Remembrance has an important role in the communication strategy against Russian propaganda. The laws that are now coming into force, the "to prevent the revival of Soviet myths" (Ukraine Crisis Media Center), belong to this activity "in the information space":

In my opinion, if Ukraine tries to counter Russian propaganda with its own, we will turn into an authoritarian state, because propaganda works only in places where freedom of speech is fully controlled, as is currently the case in Russia. In Ukraine, which wants to be part of the EU, we must adhere to democratic values.

Vladimir Vyatrovich, Director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance.

Commemoration of the campaigners for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century. Century

The package also includes a law "on the perpetuation of the victory over Nazism in the Second World War 1939/1945" and "on the legal status and commemoration of the fighters for Ukraine’s independence in the 20th century. Century" – the translations into German are both from a report by Sputnik, which is known to serve the dissemination of Russian views.

There it is learned that according to Poroshenko a bill will be introduced before the Kyiv Rada, which would "the legal norm of responsibility for violations of the law ‘On the status of fighters for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century’. The ‘Twentieth-Century’ practice".

In any case, this was likely to become sensitive territory, because according to the above-mentioned AFP report, it concerns the status of resistance groups that cooperated with the Nazis, in particular the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the militia of right-wing nationalist "Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists" (OUN), which at times cooperated with the Nazis and fought against the Russians, but also against the Poles. The head of the OUN was Stepan Bandera.

For historian Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, the failure to come to terms with the cooperation with the Waffen-SS Galicia Division and the "heroizing narrative" contribute significantly to the current conflict in Ukraine, "although we should not see it as the only or the most important factor in the conflict" ("Without historical reappraisal Ukraine remains a powder keg").

Yesterday, Poroshenko opened an exhibition, which will provide the "heroic fighters of the present", namely the fighters of the ATO, which has cost the lives of many civilians in eastern Ukraine: "The country must know and honor its heroes, who are currently creating an absolutely new Ukraine."

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