Capital punishment was abolished in Ukraine in 2000.[1] In 1995 Ukraine entered the Council of Europe and thus it was obliged to abolish the death penalty.[1] The Verkhovna Rada introduced amendments to the then-acting Criminal Code in 2000, according to which “death penalty” was withdrawn from the list of official punishments of Ukraine.[1] Ukraine carried out its last execution in 1997 according to Amnesty International.[2]


Capital punishment in Ukraine existed soon after the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917. Among the list of known people who were executed by the Ukrainian authorities was Ivan Samosenko.

In 1995, Ukraine entered the Council of Europe and one of the obligations it had to undertake with this act was to abolish the death penalty.[3] The Verkhovna Rada undertook little actions to do so until September 1998 after international pressure from the Council of Europe and the European Union.[3][4] At the request of the People's Deputies of Ukraine, the Constitutional Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional in December 1999.[3][4] The Verkhovna Rada introduced amendments to the then-acting Criminal Code in April 2000 that withdrew capital punishment from the list of official punishments in Ukraine (in peace and wartime).[1][3][4]

Ukraine was the last Council of Europe member state that used to be part of the Eastern Bloc to abolish the death penalty for peacetime offenses.[3] Latvia, also a former Soviet republic, abolished it for wartime offenses only in 2012.[5]


National Corps, a Ukrainian far-right political party, supports bringing back the death penalty.

Reintroduction in Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics

The Donetsk People's Republic, a partially recognized breakaway state in territory internationally recognized as part of Ukraine, introduced the death penalty in 2014 for cases of treason, espionage, and assassination of political leaders. There had already been accusations of extrajudicial executions occurring.[6] The Luhansk People's Republic, which is also a partially recognized secessionist breakaway state in what is widely recognized as Ukrainian territory, has also reintroduced capital punishment.[7]

On June 9, 2022, following the siege of Mariupol during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine, British volunteers to Ukraine Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were given the death penalty for "terroristic activities" in a proceeding widely described as a show trial.[8]

The Ukrainian government, which does not recognize the independence of these republics, has threatened to prosecute anyone involved in such executions for murder.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Serial killer Onopriyenko dies in Zhytomyr prison, Interfax-Ukraine (28 August 2013)
  2. ^ "Annual Report 1999 – Ukraine". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 20 June 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e International Actors, Democratization and the Rule of Law: Anchoring Democracy?, Routledge, 2008, ISBN 0415492955 (page 196 a.f.)
  4. ^ a b c The Death Penalty: Beyond Abolition, Council of Europe, 2004, ISBN 9287153337 (page 74)
  5. ^ "Countries That Have Abolished the Death Penalty Since 1976".
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Belarus and Ukrainan [sic] rebels keep death penalty alive in Europe". April 2015.
  8. ^ Roche, Darragh (9 June 2022), Two British Fighters in Ukraine Sentenced to Death by Pro-Russian Court, Newsweek (published June 9, 2022)
  9. ^ Kyiv Authorities Slam Separatist Courts Handing Down Summary Death Sentences