Talks and disputes about the adoption of the law on collaborators have been going on since the beginning of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has publicly advocated the adoption of the relevant document since 2017. At the same time, the People's Front political party developed a bill banning collaborationism, but it was scraped.
Four years later, the topic of adoption of the law on collaborationism re-emerged with renewed vigor. At first, the city council of Mykolaiv adopted an appeal to the Verkhovna Rada, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers on the need to develop and adopt the law "On collaborationism".
Then, the party of ex-President Petro Poroshenko European Solidarity unexpectedly submitted to the Verkhovna Rada a bill criminalizing collaborationism. Moreover, Poroshenko made a separate appeal in which he called on the parliamentarians to support his initiative. This happened immediately after the NSDC imposed sanctions against the people's deputies from OPFL Viktor Medvedchuk and Taras Kozak and their TV channels.
"Servants of the people" did not sit on the sidelines and at the end of February, submitted two bills on collaboration to the parliament at once.
According to one of the authors of the document, People's Deputy from Servant of the People Yehor Cherniev, Ukraine should already have a law on counteraction to collaborationism, under the influence of which even some deputies fall.
"Unfortunately, in the seventh year of the war, we have citizens with Ukrainian passports who work for the aggressor state in one form or another, being both on the territory of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. There are even deputies who are subject to such a bill", - the people's deputy believes.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who advocated the adoption of such a document in recent years, also stated the need to adopt a law on collaborators.
"Before the elections take place, before we take control of the territory, we should resolve several fundamental issues, including, I am sure that it is necessary to adopt a law on collaborators… Someone calls it the amnesty law, but I call it the law on collaborators", - he stated in February 2021.
According to Avakov, a collaborator recognized by the court should be prohibited from being elected and holding positions in the government and local government bodies, as well as being a civil servant.
Currently, the bills have only been registered in the Verkhona Rada and have not passed the hearing in the committees. OstroV delved into the essence of these documents and the chances of their adoption.
The essence of bills from "servants of the people"
Let us start with the bills from Servant of the People, which have more chances, if not for adoption, then at least for consideration. The document is the result of the joint work of the National Corps, people's deputies and some non-governmental organizations.
Bill No. 5144 "On Amending Certain Legislative Acts (on Establishing Criminal Responsibility for Collaborative Activities)", first of all, prohibits collaborators from holding positions related to the performance of state or local government functions for up to 15 years. In addition, the document provides for other punishments - up to life imprisonment.
"The key norm of the bill is not so much in criminal punishment, but in the question of the fact that after serving a sentence of 10 years, these people will not be able to engage in any form of political activity in Ukraine. A nurse and a firefighter, who remained in Donetsk, in no way fall under this the law, if they, of course, were not members of the illegal armed formations. This law is directed against the fifth column here, against people who no longer hypothetically, but actually claim power in the country", - leader of the National Corps and one of the authors of the bill Andriy Biletsky stated…
People's Deputy from Servant of the People Tatiana Tsyba also emphasizes that the draft law deals specifically with the voluntary cooperation of Ukrainian citizens with the enemy.
"Some people, even while in the occupied territories, maintained their dignity and remained faithful to their country, while others went and worked for the enemy. When the barrel of a gun is pointed at you or your relatives are sitting somewhere in dungeons, it is very difficult to resist. But if this is a conscious and voluntary choice of a person, then we should give a fair answer to it", - she considers.
First of all, the bill proposes to supplement the Criminal Code of Ukraine with a new article "Collaborative Activities".
1. You can be deprived of the right to hold certain positions or be engaged in certain activities for a period of 10 to 15 years for public (Internet, media) denial of the armed aggression against Ukraine, temporary occupation or public calls for:
- support for the decisions and actions of the aggressor state, armed formations or occupation administration of the aggressor state;
- cooperation with the aggressor state, armed formations and/or occupation administration of the aggressor state;
- non-recognition of the spread of the state sovereignty of Ukraine over the temporarily occupied territories.
2. For the voluntary occupation by a citizen of Ukraine of a position (not related to the performance of organizational and management or business and administrative functions) in illegal government bodies in the occupied territory - deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or be engaged in certain activities for 10-15 years, but with the possibility of confiscation property.
3. For the implementation of propaganda in educational institutions, as well as for actions aimed at introducing educational standards of the aggressor state, correctional labor for a period of up to two years or imprisonment for up to three years with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or be engaged in certain activities for a period of 10 up to 15 years old are suggested.
4. The transfer of material resources to illegal armed formations in the occupied territories, as well as the implementation of economic activities in cooperation with the aggressor state or illegal authorities, may result in a fine, imprisonment from three to five years with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or be engaged in certain activities for a period from 10 to 15 years with confiscation of property.
5. For the voluntary occupation by a citizen of Ukraine of a position related to the performance of organizational and management or business and administrative functions in illegal government bodies, as well as for participation in the organization and conduct of illegal elections or referenda in the temporarily occupied territory (including public calls for their holding) - imprisonment for a term of five to ten years with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or be engaged in certain activities for a term of 10 to 15 years with or without confiscation of property.
6. For organizing and conducting political or information events (congresses, meetings, rallies, processions, demonstrations, conferences, round tables) in cooperation with the aggressor state or its occupation administration aimed at supporting the aggressor state - imprisonment for a term of 10 up to 12 years with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or be engaged in certain activities for a period of 10 to 15 years with or without confiscation of property.
7. For work in courts or law enforcement agencies in the temporarily occupied territories, voluntary participation in the illegal armed formations - imprisonment for a period of 12 to 15 years with the deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or be engaged in certain activities for a period of 10 to 15 years with or without confiscation of property.
8. If the actions provided for in paragraphs 5-7 have caused the death of people or the onset of other grave consequences, then the punishment may increase to life imprisonment.
The crimes will be investigated by the Security Service of Ukraine.
Bill No.5143 supplements the previous document and restricts collaborators' access to elections, military service and state secrets.
That is, if a person is recognized as a collaborator, then he will not be able to serve in the AFU, be a member of election commissions, an official observer, a candidate in local elections, a party representative in election commission, a candidate's confidant and so on.
In addition, the bill establishes additional legal framework for the liquidation of political parties, non-governmental, charitable or religious organizations, trade unions and public formations for the protection of public order and state border, authorized persons of which were recognized as collaborators.
Law from European Solidarity
The draft law from ES to a greater extent repeats the document of "servants of the people". But this edition can be called tougher. Bill No.5135 defines collaborationism as deliberate and voluntary cooperation of a citizen of Ukraine with an aggressor state or its representatives in any form, in the interests of the aggressor state and to the detriment of the national security of Ukraine or its allies.
The document establishes a sanction for committing such actions in the form of imprisonment for a term of 3 to 5 years with or without confiscation of property.
The same actions committed by a person, who is a representative of the authorities, repeatedly, or by prior conspiracy by a group of persons, or combined with inciting ethnic or religious strife, are proposed to be punished by imprisonment for a term of 5 to 10 years with or without confiscation of property.
If the actions caused the death of a person, then the guilty person faces life imprisonment.
"We are not talking about those who are forced to work in certain institutions, hospitals and schools in the occupied territory under the threat to their lives. But we are talking primarily about those who carry out collaboration work in the controlled territory voluntarily or for money. Clear criminal liability of both individuals and political parties, as well as non-governmental organizations that carry out this work, are financed by the aggressor country and are accountable to it, should be established", - Petro Poroshenko explained.
The ex-president rather harshly called on the parliamentary factions (except for OPFL) to support his initiative. Moreover, he came up with an initiative to combine the EU and Servant of the People bills into one document.
"We ask you to consider our decree on combating collaborationism. We are not hogging the cover. Let us make either a joint decree, or consider yours as an alternative, but this topic should be considered", - Petro Poroshenko stated on March 1.
Chances of adoption
Currently, the bills have been registered in the Verkhovna Rada and sent for consideration to the relevant committees. There are no specific time limits for when they can be adopted.
People's Deputy from Servant of the People Yehor Cherniev believes that the bill can be voted on within one or two months. He also admits that this issue has not yet been discussed at the faction.
"We can get the bill in the hall within a month, maximum two, if it is not slowed down in the committee. We did not discuss it at the faction", - he said on March 1.
His faction colleague Yevhenia Kravchuk is more pessimistic. She believes that the bill will not get into the Verkhovna Rada hall in the next month, as it is very complex. In addition, it allows the current version of the document to be changed after a "full-scale discussion".
"I think that we will definitely need to somehow join our efforts, we understand perfectly well that this will be a very difficult bill. This will not be the bill that will enter the hall in a month. The last convocation could not pass it… Of course, the relevant committee is now working over this with a legislative initiative, so the version may change. We will develop a full-scale discussion with the involvement of the experts, because this is important for restoring justice and protecting Ukrainian statehood in all spheres of its life. The work has begun", - she said.
Head of the Servant of the People faction Davyd Arahamia made it clear to journalists on March 2 that the prospects for the adoption of the bill are clouded.
"I have analysts, engaged in legal analysis, and they say that this issue violates the Constitution. Even if this law is adopted politically, it will be quickly canceled by the Constitutional Court. It must either be brought to the norms of the Constitution, or immediately abandoned. We (the Servant of the People faction, - ed.) have no position yet", - he said.
Verkhovna Rada Speaker Dmytro Razumkov has taken a wait-and-see attitude and, in principle, refuses to comment on the bills on collaboration. He could not even name an approximate time frame for their consideration.
"Now it is difficult for me to comment, in order to be objective. We may have different names of bills, I have seen very good ones. And then, when you open a bill, you want to cry. In order to speak competently about this bill, you need to study it", - Razumkov said.
When asked whether the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada has the political will to get the draft law into the session hall as soon as possible, the speaker evasively noted that "there should be no will, there should be a law".
According to OstroV, the Servant of the People faction does not have a single position on this issue, and the final decision will depend on the President's Office.
"For now, this bill is supported by a maximum of 50 people's deputies from Servant of the People, plus EU and Voice can join. But this is not enough. Besides, it is not a fact that the bill will be supported by the committee. Since this law can somehow influence the Minsk process, it will be coordinated with the Office of the President. So far, we have not received any signals, so the topic is up in the air", - a source in the Servant of the People party said.
One of the arguments of opponents of the bill on collaborationism is that it can distance Ukraine from peace and reintegration of the occupied territories. Russian media have already begun to actively promote it, stating that it is directed against ordinary people. One of the main propagandists of the Kremlin Vladimir Solovyov devoted an entire program to this topic, having stated that "Ukraine can forget about the return of residents of the occupied Donbas" after the adoption of the law.
People's Deputy from Servant of the People Yevhenia Kravchuk does not agree with this thesis, and believes that the adoption of the law on collaborationism will not alienate Ukraine from the peace.
"We are separated from the peace by the position of Russia, which does not want this peace and does not let go of either Crimea or Donbas. If we talk about compliance with international law, then Russia did not reckon with international law when it illegally annexed the Crimea, when it occupied the Donbas and when it wages the war there for the seventh year in a row", - the people's deputy said.
Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV