Ukrainian and Russian media have been falsely reporting about a new draft law that would require prison sentences for those who criticize Ukrainian government officials. Such an initiative was in fact put forward and quickly squashed by Ukraine’s parliament several months ago.

The Antikor website reported that “the draft law providing for imprisonment for up to three years for criticism against authorities had been registered in the Ukrainian Parliament.” It gave Novoye Vremia and UNIAN as the sources.

Website Screenshot Antikor

Website Screenshot Antikor

Website Screenshot Novoe Vremia

Website Screenshot Novoe Vremia

Website Screenshot UNIAN

Website Screenshot UNIAN

The false news was also published by Prestupnosti.net, FAN, Proua.com.ua, NewsFront, and other media.

Website Screenshot Prestupnosti.net

Website Screenshot Prestupnosti.net

Website Screenshot FAN

Website Screenshot FAN

 Website Screenshot Proua.com.ua

Website Screenshot Proua.com.ua

Website Screenshot NewsFront

Website Screenshot NewsFront

These reports claim that Konstiantyn Mateychenko, a member of Parliament, proposed amendments to the criminal code for which “‘willful acts of imploding the reputation of the state and the authority’ should be punished more severely.”

In fact, news about the draft law first appeared as far back as March, 2015. This can even be verified on Antikor’s own website.

As was widely reported by Ukrainian media at the time, the initiative was quickly dropped after the strong condemnation of civil-society organizations.

Mateychenko himself replied at the time that the proposed law did not provide for the punishment of criticism against authorities, but for the punishment of violations of national symbols.