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Dissident movement in Ukraine



Article 187-1 “Dissemination of patently false statements defaming the Soviet political and social system”  (analogous to Article 190-1 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR) was introduced to the Criminal Code by Decree of the Plenary of the Verkhovna Rada of the UkrSSR from 9.11.1966. It was removed on 14.04.1989). 

The Article in full reads:

“Dissemination of patently false statements defaming the Soviet political and social system, as well as the preparation or dissemination in written, printed or other form of works with such content,

shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for up to three years, or corrective work for up to two years, or a fine of up to three hundred roubles”.

There are no known cases where people were punished through corrective work or a fine.

The new “crime” was introduced into legislation largely in order to “ease the burden” from Article 62-1 “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”. The latter began to be applied only in cases deemed most dangerous by the KGB. In practice the charge of disseminating “patently false statements” was generally used against authors and circulators of samvydav [samizdat] and “tamizdat” [i.e. material published abroad], since simple possession of “defamatory literature” was not covered by this article, as well as for verbal utterances considered to “defame the system”.

In addition the new wording of the charge eased the task of the investigator and court in proving guilt (for the charge of “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”, it was necessary to prove the aim of “undermining or weakening” the Soviet regime which was, as a rule, somewhat difficult.)

The activities under Article 187-1 were not formally designated a “particularly dangerous state” crime.

The investigation in these cases was run by the prosecutor’s office (although in fact it was always controlled by the KGB), and those convicted under this article were imprisoned not in the Mordovian or Perm political labour camps, but in criminal labour camps, where it was easier to blackmail them and to fabricate new criminal cases against them (cf. for example the cases of V. SICHKO, P. SICHKO, Y. LESIV and V. BARLADYANU.)

Probably the first application in Ukraine of Article 187-1 was on 3 August 1967 against V. CHORNOVIL, for gathering material about persecuted Shestydesyatnyky  “Lykho z rozumu (Portrety dvadtsyaty “zlochyntsiv”)” [literately, “Woe from wit (Portraits of twenty “criminals”], but published in the West as “The Chornovil Papers”].

The Article ceased to have legal force on 14 April 1989 immediately after the Resolution of the Congress of State Deputies of the USSR.

In accordance with the Law of the UkrSSR “On the rehabilitation of victims of political repression in Ukraine” from 17.04.1991, all those convicted under this article were rehabilitated regardless of the grounds then provided for the charges.

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