An initiative put forward jointly by Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) members from the Servant of the People and the Voice factions to introduce penal sanctions for engaging in talks with Russia on Ukrainian domestic and foreign policies is "the war party" fearing that mutually beneficial and pragmatic relations between Ukraine and Russia can be restored, the second-largest Opposition Platform — For Life Rada faction said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Ukrainian Soros-style McCarthyists intend to lock people behind bars for a term between thirteen and fifteen years with or without their property confiscation for negotiations with Russia on issues of Ukrainian domestic and foreign policies, as well as safeguarding life, health or release of hostages and captives if such talks are held without a relevant authorization from state authorities," the statement reads. The document was issued after a bill on prohibition of "separate negotiations with representatives of an aggressor state" had been registered with the Verkhovna Rada, TASS reports.
The party believes that the bill was deliberately targeted at Opposition Platform — For Life, a party that not only consistently backs implementation of the Minsk Agreements and peaceful settlement of the Donbass crisis but also proposed a real strategy to achieve that settlement in southeastern Ukraine. "There is another noteworthy fact — the text of the bill was published on the Verkhovna Rada’s website a few hours after top Russian officials including Russian President Vladimir Putin and State Duma [lower chamber — TASS] Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin supported an initiative of [Chairman of the political council of Opposition Platform — For Life — TASS] Viktor Medvedchuk to launch inter-parliamentary dialogue between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France to achieve peace in Ukraine," the statement underlines.
The party also notes that peace in Ukraine and Donbass’ reintegration are clearly not favored in the Voice party whose representatives have repeatedly said that Ukraine should quit the Minsk Agreements. "However, judging by the fact that ruling party members also oppose talks for the sake of peace in Ukraine, current authorities are also not interested in settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine as soon as possible and bringing Donbass back to Ukraine and Ukraine to Donbass," the opposition laments.
Opposition Platform — For Life is certain that Ukrainian-Russian dialogue on all levels as well as Kiev-Moscow-Lugansk-Donetsk talks hold the key to reestablishing peace in Ukraine and restoring the country’s territorial integrity.
Up to 15 years in jail for separate talks
The Verkhovna Rada registered a bill on introducing amendments to certain Ukrainian legal acts to outlaw "separate negotiations with representatives of an aggressor state." The draft law is sponsored by Voice party members Svyatoslav Vakarchuk and Andrey Osadchuk as well as Servant of the People party member Nikita Poturayev.
The bill envisages adding a change to the Criminal Code’s treason article outlining that engaging without proper authorization of state authorities in talks on issues of the country’s domestic and foreign policies with officials from a foreign state declared aggressor by the Rada is punishable by a prison term of 13-15 years with or without property confiscation. The law "On the Security Service of Ukraine" is proposed to set out that the service is required to take measures to prevent such talks in accordance with its primary objectives within the scope of its competence determined by legislation.
At the same time, entering into negotiations is not considered treason if it is done with permission or support of Ukrainian state authorities to safeguard life, health or release of hostages and captives detained by a foreign state declared aggressor by the Ukrainian parliament.
The bill also proposes more changes to the law "on television and radio broadcasting" to outlaw using TV and radio broadcasting companies to disseminate information "justifying crimes of aggression against Ukraine and/or occupation of national territory." This violation is suggested to be fined by an amount equaling to 25% of license fee.