(Apr. 6, 2015) On April 2, 2015, the President of Ukraine signed into law the Bill on Amending Legislative Acts Concerning Protection of Ukrainian TV and Radio Media Space. (Law No. 159-VIII (Feb. 5, 2015), Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (legislature) website
(in Ukrainian).) According to the Law, distribution and showing of motion pictures, TV programs, documentaries, serials, cartoon movies, and other video products will be prohibited in Ukraine if these works popularize or positively display Soviet state security authorities or law enforcement bodies, military forces, or other military and para-military formations of the “aggressor state,” or if they demonstrate a positive image of an officer serving the authorities of the “aggressor state.” (Id. art. I.1(3).)
Movies that justify occupation of Ukrainian territory, express “disrespect for the Ukrainian nation; propagate war, violence, cruelty, or interethnic tensions; or disrespect national and religious symbols” are also banned. (Id. art. I.1(4).) The Law states that such movies threaten the national security of Ukraine. The Law bans all such movies regardless of their country of origin if they were produced after August 1, 1991. (Id.) Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union was declared in August 1991.
Violation of the new Law and each case of showing or distributing such audio or video products will constitute an offense punishable by a fine equal to the amount of 50 months of the minimum monthly wage. (Id.) At present, the amount of the monthly minimum wage in Ukraine is equal to US$60 (Minimum Monthly Labor Wage, Ukrainian Ministry of Finance website (last visited Apr. 3, 2015).)
The Law defines “aggressor state” as any country that in any way partially occupiesUkrainian territory or conducts aggression against Ukraine and is recognized by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as an aggressor state or an occupying state. (Id. art. I.1(1).) Commentators note that the Law does not specifically mention Russia or Russian movies; however, they say, it is obvious that the ban will affect movies and television programs produced in Russia, because the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine officially recognized the Russian Federation as an aggressor state on January 27, 2015. (Poroshenko Signed the Law Banning Movies Glorifying Russian Law Enforcement, NEWSRU.COM (Apr. 2, 2015) (in Russian).)
In a statement addressed to the United Nations and several regional parliamentary organizations, Verkhovna Rada members informed U.N. representatives and other foreign colleagues that Ukraine remains an object of the Russian military aggression and terrorist attacks that commenced in February 2014 and asked them to “consider Russia as an aggressor state according to U.N. General Assembly Resolution No. 3314 and to make sure that Russian crimes against humanity will not go unpunished.” (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Passed a Resolution on an Appeal to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe], and the GUAM[Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova Organization for Democracy and Economic Development Parliamentary Assembly] on Recognizing the Russian Federation as an Aggressor State, Verkhovna Rada website (Jan. 27, 2015) (in Ukrainian).)