January 20, 2014

HANNAH THOBURN: Yanukovych is Courting Disaster in Ukraine.

The list of new crimes enumerated in the documents that some Ukrainians are calling “The Law on Dictatorship” is long and targets all segments of Ukraine’s protesting population. For example, participants in the collective driving protest movement “AutoMaidan” now face a two-year suspension of their licenses and confiscation of their vehicles for driving a car that “moves in a column of more than five.”

The new laws also take a page from recent Putin initiatives and target civil society organizations. Now NGOs that receive foreign funding must register as “foreign agents” within three months or be dissolved. They will also have to pay an 18% income tax and submit to a strict reporting regime. Those that are branded as “extremist” will be closed.

Defamation has been re-criminalized and “extremist activity”—which is poorly and broadly defined—can be punished by large fines and up to three years in prison. Online media outlets that have flourished throughout the protests will now have to contend with requirements to register themselves as “information agencies” and a very real possibility that the state will order internet providers to block their websites.

A foretaste of Andrew Cuomo’s plans for New York? . . . .