Ukraine passes law criminalizing antisemitism

The new legislation amended an existing law "On Preventing and Countering Antisemitism in Ukraine" passed in 2021 to add criminal liability.

A climber installs the Ukrainian national flag on a roof, marking the Day of the State Flag, on the eve of the Independence Day, in Kiev, Ukraine, August 23, 2016 (photo credit: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS)
A climber installs the Ukrainian national flag on a roof, marking the Day of the State Flag, on the eve of the Independence Day, in Kiev, Ukraine, August 23, 2016
(photo credit: GLEB GARANICH/REUTERS)

Ukraine’s parliament passed a law on Wednesday criminalizing antisemitism.

As defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, antisemitism when committed by an individual is punishable by a fine or a prison sentence of up to five years.

Public officials would also be fined or imprisoned for up to five years, and banned from holding certain offices for up to three years.

Organized groups committing acts of antisemitism, or acts with severe consequences, are punishable with prison sentences of up to eight years.

The new legislation amended an existing law passed in 2021, “On Preventing and Countering Antisemitism in Ukraine,” to add criminal liability.

 Ukraine's biggest national flag on the country's highest flagpole and the giant 'Motherland' monument (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO) Ukraine's biggest national flag on the country's highest flagpole and the giant 'Motherland' monument (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

The IHRA definition states that “antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Jewish Confederation of Ukraine President Boris Lozhkin wrote in September, when the first law passed, that it “brought Ukraine closer to Europe and the civilized world. Together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, JCU has been conducting joint monitoring of manifestations of antisemitism for a long time, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs promptly responds to all cases of physical or online antisemitism.

“However, for an effective fight against these manifestations, the legal component was missing... A real tool has appeared now for combating a phenomenon that has a much broader meaning than hatred toward Jews.”