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Ukraine's Parliament Passes Bill Banning Anti-Semitism

People gather near the monument at Babi Yar (Babyn Yar) in Kyiv for a memorial ceremony marking the International Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day on January 27.

Ukraine's parliament has passed a law defining anti-Semitism and banning it in the country.

The Verkhovna Rada on September 22 approved a second reading of the bill by 283 votes with the required minimum of 226, sending it to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for his signature to become law.

Zelenskiy, who is Jewish, has said he lost relatives in the Holocaust.

An estimated 0.2 percent of Ukraine's population of 41 million is Jewish.

The legislation defines anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews, calling for or justifying attacks on the minority, making false or hateful statements about Jews, and denying the mass extermination of Jews during the Holocaust.

Damaging buildings, monuments, or religious institutions would also fall under the definition of anti-Semitism.

"The lack of a clear definition of anti-Semitism in Ukrainian legislation does not allow for the proper classification of crimes committed on its basis," the law's authors said.

"In practice, this leads to the actual impunity of offenders," they said.

Under the bill, victims can claim compensation for material and moral damage and violators may face penalties under existing hate-crime laws.

An estimated 1.5 million of Ukraine's pre-World War II Jewish population was killed in the Nazi Holocaust.

In one of the worst atrocities, nearly 34,000 Jewish men, women, and children were killed in mass shootings on the edge of the capital, Kyiv, on September 29-30, 1941, in what is known as the Babyn Yar massacre.

With reporting by Reuters and Kyiv Post
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