in Soviet criminal law, a crime against peace and peaceful coexistence, constituting a threat to the external security of the USSR. The Soviet state follows the Leninist policy of peaceful coexistence among states; therefore, actions aimed at propagandizing or provoking war are not only condemned in the USSR but are also regarded as crimes punishable by law. War propaganda comes under the category of especially dangerous crimes against the state.
From the earliest days of its existence, the Soviet state has fought tirelessly to preserve and strengthen peace throughout the world. The first legislative act of the newly formed Soviet state was the Decree on Peace, which characterized World War I as “the greatest crime against humanity.” The USSR is a signatory of both the Hague and the Geneva conventions on the rules and customs of war; it urges all governments to resolve international disputes by peaceful means, as provided by the UN Charter, and to condemn any form of aggression by one state against another.
In response to an appeal by the Second World Peace Congress (Warsaw, 1950) to the parliaments of all countries for the enactment of laws to help preserve peace, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in March 1951 adopted the Law on the Protection of Peace, which made war propaganda an extremely serious offense. Criminal responsibility for war propaganda was established by a 1958 law on criminal responsibility for crimes against the state and by the criminal codes of the Union republics.
Article 8 of the law on criminal responsibility for crimes against the state provides that war propaganda, in whatever form it is conducted, shall be punished. The crime consists in disseminating views on the necessity of unleashing war or in calling for war either against the USSR or against other states, whether verbally, in written form, through graphic means, by radio, or in any other form. This crime is punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term of three to eight years, with or without additional exile for a term of two to five years. Anyone 16 years of age or older may be held responsible for war propaganda.
Also included among especially dangerous crimes against the state are terrorist actions against representatives of foreign governments (assassination or inflicting of grave bodily injury) for the purpose of provoking war or international complications. Criminal responsibility for such actions applies to anyone 16 years of age or older, and the punishment is deprivation of freedom for a term of eight to 15 years, with exile for a term of two to five years or without exile and with confiscation of property; in exceptional cases the death penalty may be imposed.