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 The Party of Regions Decided to Imprison Journalists for Defamation

Verkhovna Rada voted (in the first reading) for changes into the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes regarding the enforcement of responsibility for endeavors against honor and dignity of a person.

According to the Ukrainian Pravda, 244 deputies voted for the bill proposed by Vitalii Zhuravskiy.

According to the changes, journalists as well as other citizens who distribute information that endeavors against honor and dignity of a person will be punished in the following way:

Defamation means distribution of deliberately misleading information endeavoring against honor and dignity of a person or damaging the reputation. It is to be punished by a fine in the amount of 500 to 1,000 tax-free minimal allowances or correctional labor for a period of up to 1 year.

Defamation in a public speech publicly demonstrated in mass media is to be punished by a fine in the amount of 1,000 to 2,000 tax-free minimal allowances, or correctional labor for a period of 1 to 2 years, or arrest for a period of 3 to 6 months with prohibition to take certain posts or conduct certain activities for a period of 1 to 3 years.

Defamation combined with accusing a person of committing grave offence or a high crime is to be punished by a fine in the amount of 1,500 to 2,500 tax-free minimal allowances, or arrest for a period of 6 to 8 months, or incarceration for a period of up to 3 years with prohibition to take certain posts or conduct certain activities for a period of 1 to 3 years.

Defamation conducted with the use of the official post is to be punished by a fine in the amount of 2,500 to 5,000 tax-free minimal allowances.

The same actions provided for in the second, third, and fourth parts that have led to a lasting health disorder are to be punished by a restraint of liberty or incarceration for a period of 3 to 5 years.

Insult as degrading a person's honor and dignity, expressed in an indecent form, is to be punished by a fine in the amount of up to 500 tax-free minimal allowances or correctional labor for a period of up to 6 months.

Insult in a public speech publicly demonstrated in mass media is to be punished by a fine in the amount of 500 to 1,000 tax-free minimal allowances or correctional labor for a period of up to 1 year.

One of the opposition members Mykola Tomenko stated that these changes are aimed at the journalists.

"The situation is grave. We are displaying the values we profess. In 2001, pressured by experts and journalists Verkhovna Rada disposed of the archaic definitions 'defamation' and 'insult' but each year there is somebody who wants to place them back into the Criminal Code due to personal reasons," he noted.

"If this provision is reinstated, I think a third of the journalists will be imprisoned," warned Tomenko.

He also reminded that he has had court litigation with Chernovetskiy (formally a mayor of Kiev) who accused him of defamation. And then later, the information that the mayor plundered 70% of Kiev was voiced by Popov (the current 'ruler' of Kiev belonging to the ruling party) and it was not considered defamation.

 
 
 
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