FALSE: Border guards have been allowed to kill fleeing evaders

FALSE: Border guards have been allowed to kill fleeing evaders

29 March 2024
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Verification within Meta’s Third-Party Fact-Checking Program

Information is being spread online claiming that Ukrainian border guards have been officially allowed to kill evaders attempting to cross the border. Additionally, political activists have been prohibited by order of Zelenskyi from discussing the termination of the President’s legitimacy after May 20th.

However, this is false. The law does not permit border guards to kill evaders. After May 20th, Volodymyr Zelenskyi remains the legitimate President of Ukraine.

Screenshot of the post

Screenshot of the post

There is no evidence that such a warning was actually issued. The likely primary source of the photo is the propaganda Telegram channel “Sheikh Tamir“. The Center for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council, referring to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, reported that the banner with the corresponding warning is fake, and Ukrainian border guards operate exclusively within the framework of current legislation.

Moreover, the Law “On the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine” provides that border guards have the right to use firearms:

  • to protect themselves, other military personnel, and civilians in case of threat to life or health;
  • to repel attacks on objects under protection, release hostages, prevent the seizure of weapons or equipment;
  • to apprehend a person during the commission of a crime or escape if the person offers armed resistance or threatens to use weapons;
  • to damage vehicles whose drivers pose a threat to the lives of others, and drones detected in unauthorized flight areas.

The law does not allow border guards to deliberately kill fleeing individuals. The use of firearms should not exceed the necessary measures and should carry minimal risk to the lives and health of offenders. It is also prohibited to use firearms and combat equipment toward neighboring countries unless there is a direct threat to the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Furthermore, official government representatives have not made any statements regarding permission for border guards to kill fleeing individuals. Reliable Ukrainian news outlets have also not reported any documented cases of border guards killing evaders.

According to the head of the Main Intelligence Directorate Kyrylo Budanov, Russia is currently conducting an information-psychological operation called “Maidan 3”, the goal of which is to sow among Ukrainians the belief in the illegitimacy of decision-making in Ukraine in order to inflict defeat on the battlefield in June 2024.

“However, within the framework of this operation, they have planned the following: to create a situation that casts doubt not so much on the legitimacy of the President, but rather on the decision-making process in Ukraine in general during the period after May 31 and May 20 of this year. After this, in a relatively short period, when they anticipate there will be some turmoil in Ukrainian society and ambivalence in decision-making, they believe this will also impact our military, as they envision, inflicting a military defeat in the East in the first half of June, using the perception that there is ambiguity within the army about who is in control and whose orders we are following, and so on,” Budanov claims.

According to the Law of Ukraine “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law,” the powers of the President of Ukraine cannot be terminated. Moreover, in the event that the president’s term ends during martial law, his powers are extended until the newly elected President of Ukraine takes office, elected after the cancellation of martial law.

In a comment to “Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,” the Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission confirmed that elections are not held during the declaration of martial law. Furthermore, during a meeting in the format of the “Jean Monnet Dialogue”, the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and representatives of parliamentary factions agreed that presidential elections would take place no earlier than 6 months after the cancellation of martial law.

There is no information confirming that discussing the legitimacy of the president is prohibited in Ukraine, nor is there evidence that Volodymyr Zelenskyi issued such an order. Currently, there are videos, articles, and posts on social media discussing the legitimacy of Volodymyr Zelenskyi.

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The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations