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

«President Poroshenko is further cementing his power despite allegations in corruption and offshore abuses. For the third time he has managed to appoint another his associate as a General Prosecutor, despite the failures of the previous two of his proteges. Furthermore, he ensured the adoption of legislation which lets him appoint more loyalist judges».

The following is the latest news for May 2016.

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


48.6% of Ukrainian respondents said the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko certainly should resign because of his offshore companies, which came to light in the Panama papers leak. 17.5% of respondents believe that Poroshenko probably should do so. Option «probably should not» was chosen by 9,3% of respondents, «definitely should not» by 6.3%. Another 18.3% have not made up their minds yet. But in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine MPs from the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, Narodnyy Front and the Opposition bloc (made up of the former members of the Viktor Yanukovych's party), Vidrodzhennya and Volya narodu have blocked the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate the offshore business of the President. The Constitution of Ukraine allows investigation into the actions of the President only with the Parliament’s approval.

MPs from the aforementioned parties gave consent to the President to appoint Yuriy Lutsenko, the head of the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc as a new Prosecutor General. To enable this decision, a special law was passed, cancelling out the requirement for the Prosecutor General to have a degree in law. The new Prosecutor General immediately named Dmitry Storozhuk his first deputy (an MP from Narodnyy Front, who has a history with the team of the former PM, leader of Narodnyy Front Arseniy Yatsenyuk).

Moreover, the law on the removal of the requirement of an industry specific higher education for the Prosecutor General also prescribes that Storozhuk cannot be dismissed before Lutsenko. For the two major forces of the ruling coalition, Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc and Narodnyy Front, this means mutual ensurances that Prosecutor General's Office will not investigate the corruption of their leaders. Of course, this increases the likelihood of continuation of the policy of two Lutsenko’s predecessors, who were appointed by Poroshenko. Neither Vitaliy Yarema nor Viktor Shokin have shown any results in investigating cases of top-tier corruption and repressions of Euromaidan.

Before Poroshenko presented the candidacy of Lutsenko, I proposed a special law to the Parliament, that would announce an open competition for the position of Prosecutor General and entrust an independent committee with candidates’ selection. That draft law was not put to a vote.


At the suggestion of Petro Poroshenko MPs from his Bloc, Narodnyy Front, the Opposition bloc, Vidrozhennya and Volya narodu have introduced amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine and adopted a new law, regulating the work of courts, prosecutors and lawyers. The amended Constitution establishes the exclusive right of lawyers to represent citizens of Ukraine in courts. The Parliament is denied permission to arrest judges, as well as to dismiss and appoint them permanently. Judges are now to be appointed solely by the President on the proposal of the High Council of Justice. Council is also granted a right to give consent to the arrest and dismissal of judges.

The Constitution and the Law on the Judiciary now lay down a duty of a judge to explain the origin of their property. Moreover, the Public Integrity Council is to be established, which will inform the public about cases of abuse of power by judges and candidates for judiciary. Trial participants are now allowed to take photos and record videos.

Although partially these innovations can be deemed progressive, I believe that the new legislation, considered wholly, was prepared by the presidential team with an aim of replacing judges with «regime loyalists». This strongly reminds me of the actions of Viktor Yanukovych, who during the first year of his presidency has affected the dismissal of 414 judges. The transitional provisions of the Constitution establish that the members of the High Council of Justice (which is now a key institution for the selection and accountability of judges) should automatically be selected from the current members, most of whom are President’s foot soldiers. There is also a very real threat of an unsupervised monopolization by lawyers of the right to represent citizens in court.

Issuance and cancellation of licenses for lawyers might become a handy tool to seize control of the defense in court proceedings, the way it was in the Soviet times. Manipulations of justice may occur due to a loophole in the amended Constitution that prescribes that prosecutors have a right not only carry out procedural management of the investigation, but also to «organize» it. The amended Constitution (proposed by Poroshenko and approved by the Parliament) has also rendered Ukraine incapable in the next three years to recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court by ratifying the Rome Statute.


The Constitutional Court of Ukraine began proceedings for cancellation of  the Law «On Prevention of Corruption» which requires officials to declare all assets and makes this data accessible online. This is all due to a claim by 48 MPs mainly from the Opposition bloc. Journalist investigation shows that both the parliamentarians who addressed the court and the judges of the Constitutional Court themselves may have violated the same Law they so eagerly want to deem unconstitutional.

Newly minted Agency for the Prevention of Corruption for three months has failed to approve a form for online submission of the property declarations of the high officials. The agency also delays the approval of a form for the financial statements of political parties. This makes it impossible for taxpayers to start funding political parties – a process that, according to the law was to begin on 1st of July. During the election of the staff of the Agency, Arseniy Yatsenyuk (PM at the time) has manipulated the selection process, so that his former teacher became Head of the Agency. I scheduled a hearing in our Parliamentary Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction on June 8th to discuss the possible hindrances for the Agency’s work.


There’s an ongoing disclosure of every expenditure by every municipal or public enterprise, local councils and the State Treasury at http://spending.gov.ua/. This is a requirement of the law on transparency in the use of public funds, adopted in 2015.


MPs from the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, Narodnyy Front, Samopomich, the Radical Party and Batkivschyna have voted in favor of cancellation of inflated excise duties on imports of automobiles, manufactured in compliance with the Euro-5 standard. This should reduce the car prices by 3-8 thousand euros (on average). However, the President is highly likely to veto this decision in exchange (to put it clearly, in repayment) for the votes of MPs from the Opposition bloc and Vidrodzhennya that allowed his proposed amendments to the Constitution (on court system) to pass. These MPs control the production of cars in Ukraine.

MPs from the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, Narodnyy Front, Samopomich, Volya narodu have also voted for a simplified registration in Ukraine of medicinal substances that are already registered and authorized in the EU, US, Japan and Canada. This is a lethal blow to the artificial interference and bribery that exist in the government’s service of drug registration. For a year and a half, the importance of adoption of this law was constantly emphasized on by NGOs and simulatneously blocked by the pharmaceutical business representatives in the Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Cabinet and Parliament. The adoption of this law would have been impossible was it not for the new PM Volodymyr Groisman, the Minister of the Cabinet Oleksandr Saienko, and the leader of Samopomich Oleh Berezyuk (who is an MD himself).


In two years and three months since Euromaidan none of the investigations of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs on corruption cases and crimes against Maidan in the registry called «In the name of Ukraine» (overseen by the our Committee) have resulted in a sentence for any senior official. Also, as a result of investigation of repressions against Euromaidan only 2 goons have received prison sentences, with the sentence now being challenged in court.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau, created as an alternative to all the aforementioned inefficient bodies in December 2015, currently transferred to the court 14 charges against judges of the district courts, prosecutors and mid-level government officials. The bureau has launched an investigation that leads to influential members of Parliament, top government officials, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Presidential Administration. As of now, the pre-trial investigation continues.

In response to a statement from the former first deputy head of the Security Service of Ukraine Viktor Trepak, who was forced to resign after his participation in the arrests of prosecutors from the Prosecutor General's Office last year (in the «diamond prosecutors'» case) the Anti-Corruption Bureau has launched an investigation of the «shadow book-keeping» (accounting fraud) of the Party of Regions. Some of these documents were published by a former investigative journalist, an MP from the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc Sergiy Leshchenko. The handwritten papers indicate to whom, in what amount and for what services payments were made by the Viktor Yanukovych’s party in the period of 2008-2012. In particular, the document contain references to the current head of the Central Election Commission Mykhailo Okhendovskyy. According to Trepak, in the aforementioned period of time these illegal expenses amount to about $ 2 billion.

The Head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau Artem Sytnyk has confirmed a clear violation of the anti-corruption legislation by the Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyluk. The Minister, who had previously worked in Petro Poroshenko’s Presidential Administration, held overlapping offices and shared duties of a civil servant and a CEO of an offshore company. Danyluk, who by law faces an administrative penalty, has confirmed the aforementioned violation, and yet decided not to resign.


The Constitutional Court of Ukraine continues the closed proceedings in the case on the abolition of the Law «On Government Cleansing» (lustration). The Constitutional Court has received claims from the judges of the Supreme Court and MPs from the Opposition bloc. The majority of the claimers have no right to be appointed to public office under this law, having occupied senior positions in Viktor Yanukovych’s time. Simultaneously, the police considers a complaint by the Civic Lustration Committee on the conflict of interest in this case in a no less than 1/3 of the judges of the Constitutional Court.

These are the same people who in 2010 allowed Yanukovych to seize more power. The case of them knowingly passing unjust decision that set in motion the Constitutional amendment process has been investigated by the Prosecutor General's Office since March 2014. I sent a letter to the new Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko with a request to intensify the said investigation.




Copyright © 2016 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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