The MIA initiates stripping of the voting rights for persons involved in separatism

The MIA initiates stripping of the voting rights for persons involved in separatism
Photo: Konstantin Melnitskiy

The Ministry of Internal Affairs is initiating introduction of changes to the law that would restrict the rights of those involved in separatism to elect and be elected. “Article 10 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine reads that appeals for separatism are considered a criminal offense in our country. This article should be supplemented with the provision according to which criminals would be deprived of the right to elect and be elected, hold elective offices in any government agencies for instigation to separatism,” said the advisor for the Minister of Internal Affairs and initiator of the changes Anton Herashchenko. He added the Minister Arsen Avakov supported his idea. “The bill will be submitted in the near future. By all means at this session and even maybe the next plenary week,” said Herashchenko.

MPs echo MIA

The MIA’s initiative to limit electoral rights of people involved in separatism is not the only initiative which will be soon submitted for consideration by the Rada. For example, MP Valentyn Korolyuk (Batkivshchyna party) registered a bill suggesting revoking citizenship of people convicted for actions or appeals interpreted as infringement of the territorial integrity of Ukraine or calling to overthrow the constitutional order. In the explanatory note the MP notes that the recent changes to the criminal law have toughened punishment for such crimes. “But at the same time, people convicted for crimes aimed at destruction of the state are still protected by the government, just as all other citizens,” explains Korolyuk. According to his initiative, the provision for termination of citizenship will be temporary, for the term of serving the sentence and up to cancellation of conviction. Korolyuk clarifies that a person without citizenship cannot be a member of a political party or have the right to vote.

A very similar bill was introduced last week by the members of the Svoboda party, who offered to revoke Ukrainian citizenship upon the ruling on the violation of territorial integrity of the state.

Bypassing obligations

In the recent legislative initiatives human rights activist Eduard Bahirov sees the desire of the MIA and pro-government MPs to affect supporters of separatism on the psychological level. At the same time, he reminds that the current legislation in force prohibits ex-convicts to be elected to local councils and the parliament. Yet, lawmaker Pavlo Rozenko (UDAR) predicts that these bills may be adopted, although he says the chances of this are minimal. “Now the politicians are riled up, and there is a strong public pressure with regard to the fight against separatists, so anything can happen. Radicalism is now in vogue,” said Rozenko.

At the same time, Chairman of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and the head of the Council on Human Rights at the Ministry of Internal Affairs Yevhen Zakharov believes that the initiatives for limitation of the rights of prisoners violate the international law. “Under the current law, prisoners cannot be elected, but they have the right to vote. To deprive those convicted for separatism of this right would be a violation not only of the Ukrainian Constitution, but also international standards. The same applies to the proposal to deprive individuals of Ukrainian citizenship for involvement in separatist activities. I would like to emphasize: this is a violation of international standards. It is clearly stated that nobody shall be deprived of citizenship and expelled from their country of citizenship. Such is the principle of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly and accepted by Ukraine. Similar provisions exist in other international instruments,” said Zakharov in a conversation with Capital.

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