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Dissident movement in Ukraine



Article 62 of the UkrSSR Criminal Code (counterpart of Article 70 of the CC RSFSR) -  “Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda” – came into force on 1 January 1961.

“Agitation or propaganda carried out with the aim of subverting or weakening the Soviet regime or committing separate particularly dangerous state crimes, the dissemination for the same purpose of patently false statements defaming the Soviet political and social system, as well as circulating or preparing or keeping for the same purpose literature of such content

- shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term from six months to seven years, and with exile for up to five years or without, or by exile for a term from two to five years.

The same actions committed by a person previously convicted of particularly dangerous state crimes, as well as committed in wartime,

- shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term from three to ten years with exile for up to five years or without.

Paragraph 1 meant imprisonment in a harsh regime labour camp, paragraph 2 - special regime labour camp (prisoners were kept in cells) and being declared, under Article 26 of the same Code, a particular dangerous repeat offender.

This Article replaced Article 54-10 of the previous Criminal Code of the UkrSSR from 1927 (including the version from 20.07.1934). The new wording of the Article was introduced by Law of the USSR “On criminal liability for state crimes” (Article 7) from 25.12.1958. Up till 1961 court prosecution in all Soviet republics was carried out directly on the basis of this law. Then the definition of the “crime” was included in the new criminal codes of all the republics.

Between 1961 and 1966 Article 62 served as the main criminal law instrument for prosecution of virtually all manifestations of dissident thinking. From 1966 after the introduction of 187-1, 187-2 and 187-3 of the CC UkrSSR (Articles 190-1, 190-2 and 190-3 of the CC RSFSR, with analogous articles in the criminal codes of all Soviet republics), Article 62 began being applied only against what the regime deemed the most dangerous “anti-Soviet” displays.

A Decree of the Presidium of the Verkhovna Rada of the UkrSSR from 29.02.1984 introduced amendments to paragraph one with the word “literature” being replaced by the wording “in a written, printed or other form of work”. Paragraph two was supplemented by the words: “with the use of funding or other material assets received from foreign organizations or individuals acting in the interests of these organizations.”  This was aimed at stopping the assistance provided to Soviet dissidents from foreign organizations (such as the Public Foundation to help political prisoners and their families, known in the West as the Solzhenitsyn Foundation).  The punishments under both paragraphs remained the same.

The Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 8.04.1989 removed the concepts “patently false statements defaming the Soviet political and social system” from Article 70 of the CC RSFSR and from Article 62 of the CC UkrSSR.

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, i.e. effectively amnestied.


Based on material from "Memorial", Moscow

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