Why communist ideas are so rejected in Ukraine

Parlamento da Ucrânia aprovou em 2015 uma lei que proíbe a divulgação de conteúdos apoiando o comunismo

The Parliament of Ukraine approved in 2015 a law prohibiting the dissemination of content supporting communism| Photo: EFE/Roman Pilipey

Victim of communism for decades, Eastern Europe naturally strongly rejects this ideology – in the case of Ukraine, this repudiation is even more prominent, with one of the legislations most severe anti-communists in the world.

In 2015, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that prohibits the dissemination of content supporting communism and Nazism, the public denial of the criminal character of these regimes, and the use of its symbols, in addition to another law that legalized the political and paramilitary organizations that faced the Soviet regime during World War II.

Based on this legislation, Ukraine banned the activities of communist parties in the country and began to demolish monuments and change the names of public places that honored historical figures of communism.

In 2019, the Constitutional Court, by ratifying the law which equates communism with Nazism – whose transgression provides for a penalty of up to five years in prison for individuals and closure of organizations, whose responsible can be imprisoned for up to ten years -, pointed out that “the communist regime, like the Nazi regime, inflicted irreparable damage to human rights because during its existence it exercised total control over society and politically motivated persecution and repression, it violated its international obligations and its own constitutions and laws.”

“The rejection of communism is natural, as it is one of the most harmful experiences in human history. But this is not a simple rejection of communism, but in relation to all totalitarianisms. The law of 1933 is not just a rejection of communism, but an equating of the manifestation of communist ideas with Nazi ones. In other words, it is a rejection of totalitarianism itself, regardless of the political figure it assumes”, says Eduardo Saldanha, a specialist in international relations and professor at the Law School of the Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUCPR).

The analyst adds, however, that the experience with communism evidently contributed to the intense Ukrainian rejection of the communism.

“Ukraine suffered a lot during communism, I risk say that he suffered much more from communism than from Nazism. The rejection of the Nazi demonstrations already existed, but what surprises me is that it took so long to give the same treatment to communism. We cannot forget the Holodomor”, he justifies, referring to the disastrous program of agricultural reorganization in the Soviet states that killed between 2 million and millions of hungry Ukrainians between 960 and 1933.

Laws came after Russian assaults on Ukrainian sovereignty

Parlamento da Ucrânia aprovou em 2015 uma lei que proíbe a divulgação de conteúdos apoiando o comunismo The anti-communist and anti-Soviet groups recognition laws were passed a year after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the start of the war in Donbass, where Russian-backed separatist groups declared two independent republics.

At the time, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the laws, claiming that they “correspond to the distorted ideas that are being propagated by the incumbent authorities in Ukraine” and that they would serve to “introduce totalitarian methods to liquidate plights”. inappropriate artifices.”

Furthermore, Moscow claimed that recognizing anti-Soviet groups from the Second World War period would be a tribute to “Nazi collaborators”.

Saldanha believes that in part the laws of 2015 were a response to the aggression against Ukrainian sovereignty unleashed by Russia the previous year, but that the delay for Ukraine to enact anti-communist legislation, more than 20 years after the end of the Soviet Union, also has to do with a “remembrance of the Soviet system, a nostalgia” that is minority, but still present in Eastern Europe.

“Within Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, throughout that region, there is still a very strong communist ideology, very present, contrary to the what happened with Nazism, which was basically exterminated as an ideology, except for some groups with no connection with the reality. Communism is still an ideology applied in some parts of the world and held by some as a hope”, explains the professor.