KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has signed a new porn law that has already brought waves of protests throughout the country.
According to the Kyiv Post, anyone found guilty of possessing, selling and disseminating pornography will be severely punished with fines and as many as three years in prison.
And what defines porn in Ukraine? Whatever the police and the courts decide is porn.
The blanket legislation has met with opposition from free-speech organizations, human-rights groups and other activists in Ukraine.
The law was voted in by the Ukrainian parliament on June 11 by a large majority with enough support to override any presidential veto.
The measure was introduced because of child porn, most of which is said to come out of Eastern Europe, including Ukraine.
However, opponents of the bill argue it does not focus on child porn at all, but instead is vague, fails to protect exploited children and could be used to prosecute anything from erotic art to an adult's private nude photos of a sexual partner.
“Any one of us can now be punished for possessing very simple images, if somebody defines them as pornography,” said Lyusya Komarnytska, an art exhibition manager.
“The president demonstrated he doesn’t understand the principles of democracy,” said art gallery owner Evhen Karas. He protested the law by launching a two-week erotic exhibition on June 23.
Some believe they may have to throw away or destroy any films, images, books and works of art that could possibly be classified as pornography.
Justice Minister Mykola Onishchuk, who drafted the bill, continues to claim only those who sell pornography will be punished. But legal experts in the country suggest the measure could be used in political agendas to punish anyone possessing or disseminating almost any type of erotica. Officials contend such abuse by law enforcement will not happen.
According to polls, a majority of Ukrainians support greater porn regulation, especially crackdowns on child porn. But many say this new law is not the answer.