A monthly anticorruption newsletter to help international officials and experts working inside and outside of Ukraine to track progress in fighting corruption



«The on-going investigation of the corruption of their entourage terrifies Ukrainian kleptocracy leaders. But gives hope to the nation. It is important to cement the rule of law by establishing the Anti-corruption court».

The following is the latest news for April-May 2017.



Here are 9 STEPS TO DEMOLISH CORRUPTION IN UKRAINE we have been working on implementation of to sweep away corruption







The government of Volodymyr Groismanseamlessly transitioned from a year-long period of the Parliament's majority support of its annual program, for the duration of which we, as MPs, didn't have the right to initiate their resignation. In one yearthis government managed to introduce a more transparent mechanism for reimbursement of VAT; establish a program to compensate the cost of medicines to patients as an alternative to corrupt centralized procurement; and to promote the introduction of e-declaration of assets of all state officials, as required by the new anti-corruption legislation, adopted by us. Reforms in all other spheres, including privatization, deregulation and the introduction of transparency of pricing of utility services, promised a year ago, are apparently becoming stale, and it looks as if Groisman's team is buckling under oligarchs' pressure. The status quo seems to satisfy the current majority of MPs, who are dependent on Poroshenko, Rinat Akhmetov, Dmytro Firtash, Victor Pinchuk and Igor Kolomoisky and it would be impossible to garner the votes to dismiss the government at the present time. However, Volodymyr Groisman doesn't seek the approval of the new program and, thence, immunity from the vote of no confidence for another year. In politics, the current Prime Minister appears to be a fan of the saying 'haste makes waste'.

Yet another member of the presidential team, the head of the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) ValeriyaHontaryeva resigned. In the US and the EU she is hurriedly constructing a strong image of the vigorous savior of troubled banks. Ukraine, however, has seen a slew of journalistic investigations that reveal major corruption abuses of the NBU from the bank management to operations in the foreign exchange and stock markets. Before her resignation the Anti-Corruption Bureau conducted searches at the NBU in investigation of cases of abuses in lending to banks.

Introduced in March by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the ban on trade with the occupied territories is in place and under control of the veterans of war with Russia, who in January have physically prevented the movement of trains and trucks. As a politician who actively supported the blockade of trade with the occupied territories, believing that such trade provides a handy leeway for Vladimir Putin to further corrupt Ukrainian leaders, state security services and the armed forces, I was pleased to hear about the start of accelerated modernization of the Ukrainian power plants in order to achieve independence from anthracite, produced in the occupied part of the Donbas and in Russia. Even the energy holding of the oligarch Akhmetov, that is closely associated with Russia, announced of similar plans.

However, the draft law on the recognition of the occupied territories as illegally occupied by Russia can not advance further in the Parliament. Representatives of Petro Poroshenko, Narodniy Front and the Radical Party voted against the law in the State Building Committee, where the bill was placed for preliminary consideration. Me and my colleagues in the Samopomich party and several MPs from other forces are promoting this decision for placement of legal restrictions on imports of goods from the occupied territories, granting legal liability of Russian for infringement of human rights on the mentioned territories, destruction of infrastructure, recognition of the status of our prisoners of war and legitimizing three years of bravery of Ukrainian army in fighting and defending our lands from the Russian invasion. The fact that the majority of MPs and the President are blocking the law on the occupied territories for me is a tell-tale sign of the deep-rooted Russian influence on Ukrainian politics. This terrible impact is also evident in the demonstrative murder of Denis Voronenkov (former deputy of the Russian Duma, who fled to Kyiv and was granted Ukrainian citizenship) on the busy crossroads in the center of Kyiv in broad daylight.

But, turning to some good news, one needs to mention the appointment of Zurab Alasania as a first head of Ukrainian public broadcasting, intended to appear on the foundation of central and regional public television and public radio. Zurab, who in the aftermath of Euromaidan was a head of the state television channel, established himself as a supporter of cutting-edge journalistic investigations, including against the President and the Prime Minister, which was unimaginable in previous years.






Detectives of the Anti-Corruption Bureau along with prosecutors of the anti-corruption prosecution havedetained Mykola Martynenko on suspicion of embezzlement and state companies' fraud. He is a close ally of former Prime Minister, leader of the Narodniy Front, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Martynenko was a Komsomol leader in Kyiv at the time of the collapse of the USSR. Before Yatsenyuk he was a part of the team of Viktor Yushchenko. In the current Parliament he was a head of the Committee on Energy; he resigned in December of 2015, when Yatsenyuk was trying to remain in the PM's chair and tried to demonstrate the will to purify state power (above all - to the US government).

After the detention Martynenko was placed on bail on request from the three ministers from the Narodniy Front: Minister of education Lilia Grinevich, of transport - Vladimir Omelian, of sports - Igor Zhdanov, deputy chairman of the CEC Andriy Magera and MPs Leonid Yemets, Georgiy Lohvynskyy, Andriy Teteruk, Mykola Knyazhytskyy, Maksym Polyakov, Victor Yelenskyy, Olena Ledovskikh, Olena Masorina, Pavlo Pynzenyk, Gennadiy Kryvosheya, Vitali Stashuk, Hvicha Meparishvili, Victor Krivenko, Vitalyi Korchik, Olena Boyko, Vadym Pidbereznyak, Fedir Bendyuzhenko.

Another shock to the Ukrainian kleptocracy was the Anticorruption prosecution's proceedings for illicit enrichment against Oleg Lyashko. The leader of the Radical Party in this Parliament has an important role in 'adding votes' to the President and the Government and is a symbol of the policy of 'everything can be bought'

The President and most of the other top-tier Ukrainian politicians are deeply unsettled by such investigations of the Bureau. As public opinion welcomes such investigations, nobody can publicly denounce them. The main hope of the kleptocrats is to block them in their 'pocket courts'. For example, in April the court once again returned without consideration the case of pressuring the previous Minister of Economy Aivaras Abromavychus into appointment of corrupt heads of state enterprises. The case was investigated by the anticorruption Bureau and Prosecution a whole year ago.

Just lying motionless in the parliamentary legal committee, which is headed by President's crony Ruslan Knyazevich, is the draft law on the formation of the Anti-Corruption Court, registered by our group of fellow MPs as early as February the 1st. We propose to create a court for sanctioning and sentencing in the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Anti-Corruption Prosecution's investigations. The judges are to be selected with the participation of the US, the EU and the UK to ensure purity of the selection procedure. It is important to make this decision as soon as possible for the society to see that corruption investigations lead to a legitimate punishment of the top officials.

On the other hand, I expect new attacks on the independence of the Anti-Corruption Bureau and prosecution from the senior officials. In March we were able to block attempts to appoint Nigel Brown as an auditor of the Anti-Corruption Bureau - a British lawyer, who served Russian oligarchs and was unexpectedly offered to us, bypassing parliamentary procedures by leaders of factions of Poroshenko and Narodniy Front. To block a new attack, our anti-corruption parliamentary committee announced a second contest for the election of auditors. I have already received the consent to participate in it at my request from Marta Borsch, the American prosecutor at the trial of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, convicted in the US for corruption, and from the first head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, Carlos Castresana.






Prosecutor General's Office, headed by Yuriy Lutsenko continues to cover up corruption, including within its own ranks. Prosecutor of the zone of antiterrorist operation in the Donbas Konstantin Kulikmoved to the position of Deputy Chief of the Department of International Legal Cooperation. Kulik was (for the first time in the history of Ukraine)accused by the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Anticorruption prosecution of illegal enrichment. The Court is sabotaging consideration of his case and the prosecution refers to the lack of judgment.

Similarly, another flight to Russia of officers of special forces, who were accused of murdering protesters of Euromaidan and the Prosecution coming to an agreement with the youngest representative of the family of former members of Yanukovych's team of the Katsub family, Oleksandr, caused public outrage. He was accused of illegal dealings at the time of Yanukovych for the benefit of Sergiy Kurchenko, who is now cooperating with the Russian authorities in the occupied part of Donbas, and Yuriy Boyko, head of the faction Opposition bloc in the current Parliament. Prosecutor General Lutsenko explained the release of Katsuba as him paying USD 130 million, although only in one single episode of him aiding Kurchenko's theft from the state gasoline holding the loss was estimated at 500 million.

The final stage of the election of new judges to theSupreme Court also raises great suspicion. According to the Petro Poroshenko's amendments to the Constitution the Supreme Court must be completely replaced. In accord to observations of the Public Integrity Council, which pursuant to the law follows the selection of judges, there are numerous abuses. In general Public Integrity Council gave its negative conclusions regarding 40% of all candidates or 261 out of 653 people. However, only 20% of them were taken into account by High Qualification Commission of Judges that ignored some of the negative conclusions without proper reasoning. Commission also uses non-transparent methodology for the assessment of candidates' tests.






Upon request from the military prosecutor Anatoliy Matios the Corruption Prevention Agency concealed more than 200 e-declarations of the military prosecutors. They disappeared from a special website, where, under the anti-corruption legislation that we adopted, citizens have open access to information on family property of all officials (except for their home addresses). Members of the Agency referred to the provision of law that allows to classify information on investigators. Along with members of public we are going to challenge this decision.

During the hearings held in our parliamentary committee the deputy chairman of the Agency Ruslan Radetskiy acknowledged that he and his colleagues have not verified a single declaration for 2015 of the top officials, which were first presented and disclosed via the Internet in September-October last year. In particular, and because of this I am inclined to support the law on the dismissal of the heads of the Agency, promoted by the Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko. The only question that remains unanswered in this project: "What are the chances that the new leadership will be selected more discerningly?". The commission that selected the current leaders was ‘superintended’ by the first deputy of Petrenko and guided by wishes of Petro Poroshenko and the minister's party boss Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Alongside the NGOs I defend the need to abolish the amendments, adopted in March, pursuant towhich allanti-corruption NGOs, their contractors and all members of the community councils have to submit e-declarations and hold criminal liability for it. The amendments were adopted by MPs of Bloc of Poroshenko, Narodniy Front, Opposition bloc, Radical Party and the groups ‘Vidrodzhennya’ and ‘Volia narodu’. Politicians who last year declared 12 billion hryvnias (and that’s only in cash) obliged the most active representatives of the civil society to be ‘on the hook’. I addressed a letter to the President and the Speaker of Parliament, calling upon them not to let the amendments take effect, but they immediately signed those amendments. This is an extremelydangerous step on the part of Ukraine’s leaders that might lead them to the Yanukovych’s path. We have to make them retrace those steps.






For the first time in Ukraine the court made a decision on confiscation of the party ‘UKROP’ UAH 468,000 for violating the donations rules. These rules are provided by the new legislation on transparency of party finances in return for funding from taxpayers, upheld by our committee.

The new option appeared on the portal, where you can find information about spending taxpayers' money. The option allows the communication between organizations that spend and receive the funds. Adopted in 2015, the law on transparency in use of public funds requires the disclosure of all payments by taxpayers' money.






Third time was the charm for the Ministry of Justice, that finally managed to find the replacement for Tetiana Kozachenko for the position of head of the lustration department, who resigned last autumn. New head of the department is a former subordinate of Tetiana. The failure of two previous tenders for election of the head of the department showed the reluctance of professional lawyers to venture into public service in current dire conditions of low wages and lack of will of the country's leaders to purify the state machine. This lack of will is evidentonce again in the appointment of the deputy head of Odessa region state administration Oleksandr Tereshchuk. During Euromaidan he headed the police of Volyn  and personally organized the dispersal of demonstrators in Lutsk. He was let go in accord with the Law On Government cleansing and for the second time around he is brought back to public service in full breach of the said law.

Head of the Parliament Andriy Parubiy persistently refuses to put to the vote the draft law that we have drawn up in the spring of 2015, that incorporates recommendations of the Venice Commission on lustration legislation.






The only breakthrough in the decentralisation process this year is the approval in April of the lawthat allows entrepreneurs to do without seals.

On 30th of April the first elections of mayors and councils were held in 47 incorporated communities. Victory was snatched by the representatives of the parties who were not seen as leaders according to the public opinion polls. According to the NGO 'Committee of Voters of Ukraine', the everlasting key problem is the election vote buying. One of the reasons this issue remains is the lack of punishment. As of now 413 communities merged in Ukraine on the scope that makes them sustainable and increases their financial autonomy.





Copyright © 2017 Iegor Soboliev, All rights reserved.
A monthly anticorruption newsletter to help international officials and experts working inside and outside of Ukraine to track progress in fighting corruption

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