Ukraine bans anti-Semitism with new law

KYIV, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament on Wednesday passed a law defining the concept of anti-Semitism and establishing punishment for transgressions.

An estimated 0.2% of Ukraine's 41 million population is Jewish and there have been isolated cases of anti-Semitism since independence in 1991.

Its pre-war Jewish population of about 1.5 million was virtually wiped in the Nazi Holocaust.

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"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.

The law, passed in the final reading by 283 votes with the required minimum of 226, defines anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews and bans it. Its manifestation can be directed at Jews as well as their property, religious buildings or communities.

It did spell out punishments but allows victims to claim compensation for material and moral damage.

To enter into force, the law must be signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky. The president's parents were Jewish and he has said he lost relatives in the Holocaust.

This month Ukraine will mark the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre, one of the biggest single killings of Jews during the Holocaust.

Nearly 34,000 Jewish men, women and children were killed in mass shootings on the edge of the capital Kyiv on Sept. 29-30, 1941.

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Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets, Editing by Angus MacSwan

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