Ukraine's Parliament building
Ukraine's Parliament building iStock

The Ukrainian Parliament on Wednesday passed a law defining the concept of anti-Semitism and the punishments for violations of the law.

The law, which passed its second and final reading with 283 votes, defines anti-Semitism as "hatred of Jews."

This hatred, which the law forbids, can be directed at Jews, their property, religious buildings, and communities, the law says. Hatred is defined as "by calling for or justifying attacks on Jews, making false or hateful statements and denying the persecution and mass extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. Intentionally damaging buildings, monuments and religious institutions may also fall under the definition of anti-Semitism," Kyiv Post said.

The site added that the penalties enacted under previous laws will apply to the current bill as well. In addition, victims will be able to claim compensation for material and moral damage due to anti-Semitic actions.

The bill now goes to Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky, who must sign it before it can go into effect. Zelensky's parents were Jewish, and he has said he lost relatives in the Holocaust.

In the bill, the authors wrote, "The lack of a clear definition of anti-Semitism in Ukrainian legislation does not allow for the proper classification of crimes committed on its basis."

They added that, "In practice, this leads to the actual impunity of offenders."

Natan Sharansky, Chair of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center responded, "Ukraine’s decision to pass the bill on anti-Semitism will contribute greatly to the global battle against the hatred and discrimination of Jews."

He stressed, "Just weeks ahead of the Babyn Yar commemorations, marking 80 years since the biggest single massacre of Jews on Ukrainian soil, this is an important piece of legislation that stresses the dangers of this age old hatred, and its prevalence today."

In the Babyn Yar massacre, the Nazis murdered nearly all the Jews in Kiev - 33,771 people - over the course of two days. During the German occupation of Ukraine (1941 – 1943), nearly 100,000 victims were murdered and buried in Babyn Yar. While the overwhelming majority of victims were Jewish, the number also included opponents of the regime, the mentally ill, and Roma people, making Babyn Yar the largest mass grave in Europe.

Did you find a mistake in the article or inappropriate advertisement? Report to us