MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) – The Ukrainian Parliament passed a law Tuesday increasing penalties for separatism to up to 15 years in prison and allowing the confiscation of property belonging to those convicted of the crime.
The move comes in response to ongoing protests in eastern Ukraine calling for the country’s federalization. The bill specifies the crime is related to acts of forced changes in the constitutional order and the seizure of government power.
It was upheld by 231 members of Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, just over the 226 votes needed to pass.
The bill is pending the signature of Ukraine’s parliament-appointed acting President Oleksandr Turchynov and will come into force after being officially published.
According to the legislation, acts made with the goal of changing the borders of a territory or the national borders of Ukraine could be punishable by 9-12 years imprisonment and the confiscation of property, whereas acts of treason are punishable by 14 years to life.
The bill also includes punishment for diversions and espionage that also carry a term of 14-15 years in prison.
The MPs also introduced a new article to Ukraine’s criminal code stipulating criminal responsibility for interference with the work of Ukraine’s military forces.
“Acts aimed at disrupting the work of Ukraine’s military forces created in accordance with Ukrainian law will be punishable by 5-8 years in prison. The same acts leading to casualties or any other grave consequences will be punishable by 8-15 years,” the bill says.