Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko has signed a bill imposing jail sentences on Russians who cross the Ukrainian border illegally.
Under Ukraine's new legislation posted on the parliament's website today, Russian nationals will be subject to jail terms of up to eight years if they cross the Ukrainian border with fake documents or without documentation.
The Ukrainian parliament said that the president signed a bill making such crossings a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison. Current national legislation prescribes detentions of up to 15 days and imposes fines on offenders.
The new penalty applies to those who “seek to harm the interests of the state,” people banned from entry into Ukraine, as well as “representatives of military units or other law enforcement agencies of the aggressor state,” the Moscow Times reported.
The bill was adopted on October 18 by Verkhovna Rada.
The deputy dean of the Faculty of Global Economics and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics of the National Research University, Andrei Suzdaltsev, speaking with the correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that "the border between Russia and Ukraine is one of the largest in Europe, and it is difficult to control it, which means that there will be incidents with the detention of our citizens. The Ukrainian side has declared Russia, in fact, its enemy, and Moscow has already imposed restrictions on the Russians to visit the Ukrainian territory - but it’s impossible to control everything. If there are unauthorized crossings, then the Ukrainian side can arrest such a person, and it will be very difficult for the Russian authorities to help, because it was not fixed in Russia that some citizens left for Ukraine. That is, the safety of the Russians was put at risk," he said.
Also, the language of the law makes it possible to consider all Russians who have ever been to Crimea to be subject to arrest. "They are unlikely to succeed in tracking everyone, although Kiev claims that they study databases of Crimean hotels, records Russians who have been there, and yet it creates a situation of potential hostage-taking. On the whole, this is a very problematic situation that a criminal punishment for Russians was introduced for the illegal crossing of the Russian-Ukrainian border. In my opinion, this punishment is excessive, and there will always be incidents, because the border with Ukraine is formally open," Andrey Suzdaltsev noted.