The Ukrainian Parliament has begun work on a bill that would ban “communist,” “Nazi,” “anti-Ukrainian” ideologies, and the functioning of any communist parties within the state. The bill has been tabled while the government expands other programs to fight Putinist influence in the nation.
According to Newsweek, the bill, to which the nation’s five major political parties agreed last month, follows a “collective agreement to ‘de-communise’ Ukraine.” It would not only ban communism, but activities deemed to be aligned with national socialism and any radical ideas that are a threat to Ukraine.
Ukrainian sovereignty is a fragile reality since Russian President Vladimir Putin began his westward invasion into the country, annexing Crimea in an act that many international observers–and the government of Ukraine–have called illegal. Putin followed up the occupation of Crimea with public statements taunting Ukraine, claiming in September, “If I want, I will take Kiev in two weeks.”
The Ukrainian government has also taken other measures against radical leftist threats within the nation. In July, the Ukrainian Justice Ministry argued for a ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine, noting that the party had supported the violent invasion of eastern Ukraine by Russian forces, and as such was not furthering an ideology but actively opposing the national interests of its host country.
To that end, the Ukrainian government is not only pursuing a ban on communist and Nazi activity, but working to establish a Ministry of Information that would regulate media. The move has sparked some ire from international groups, including the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Freedom. Representative Dunja Mijatovic is quoted in Newsweek as saying, “The practical tasks to be given to the authority, such as drafting and then imposing codes of practice to the media outlets in Ukraine, is a clear threat to free, independent media.”
The coverage of these bills so far has been on Ukraine’s attempts to ban communist ideology, with little spotlight on the fact that any Nazi groups loudly or violently proclaiming their beliefs would also be punished and banned from mass media. This ban on national socialism is particularly important, given the Russian government’s repeated attempts through propaganda to portray the Ukrainian government as “Nazis.” Russian propaganda has regularly slandered pro-Ukrainian protesters as Nazis for opposing Russian occupation. Senior members of the Russian government have referred to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his Prime Minister as Nazis, and Putin himself has used the slur.
And yet the international community, if Newsweek is to be believed, is up in arms about Ukraine doing something to prevent public promotion of national socialist propaganda because they also included communist propaganda and activity in that ban. While many European nations, in the aftermath of World War II, have implemented some limitations on speech to prevent nationalist sentiments from starting another war, nations like Greece, France, and Spain have seen some increase in the popularity of nationalist groups. In Greece, particularly, the Nazi party, Golden Dawn, has become something of an electoral success, enough to establish a chapter in Spain.