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Landmark Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Law Overturned

As elections loom, Petro Poroshenko’s rivals are bashing him for allowing graft to flourish as millions sink into poverty. 28 February 2019

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has often been accused of turning a blind eye to political graft, but now he could face impeachment for corruption.

 

Yulia Tymoshenko, the firebrand former prime minister and a rival candidate in the 31 March presidential elections, accused Poroshenko of corruption in parliament Tuesday, saying she and other lawmakers had opened impeachment proceedings against him, Euronews reports.

 

Tymoshenko is currently polling third, behind Poroshenko and comedian-cum-politician Volodymyr Zelenskiy, although many voters remain undecided.

 

Tackling corruption poses a dilemma for any Ukrainian leader, as many senior politicians and oligarchs could be caught in the dragnet, possibly destabilizing the country still further as the conflict in the Donbas region drags on.

 

The European Union and International Monetary Fund have made tangible progress against corruption, together with market reforms and austerity measures, the prime conditions in order for Ukraine to be eligible for further aid.

 

Neither organization will be pleased by yesterday’s Constitutional Court decision striking down a law against “illegal enrichment” by officials.

 

The Ukrainian parliament. Image via Verkhovna Rada.

 

The court said the law was unconstitutional because it violated the principle of presumption of innocence by requiring officials to prove the legitimacy of their assets, The Associated Press reports.

 

The National Anticorruption said about 65 investigations into the assets of judges and other officials would have to be closed as a result of the decision.

 

The ruling will be very costly, anti-corruption activist Vitaliy Shabunin wrote on Facebook.

 

“We can forget about IMF and World Bank money, and thus economic growth and Ukrainians’ wellbeing,” he wrote, according to the Financial Times.

 

The law was adopted in 2015 among other reforms that helped the government win a $17.5 billion IMF bailout package. That program was later suspended over Kyiv’s perceived lack of progress on reforms and replaced with a $3.9 billion standby program due to end in November.

 

 

  • Tymoshenko’s impeachment threat came after the anti-corruption coalition BIHUS.info published a report tying Poroshenko to a 2015 operation to smuggle spare parts for military equipment from Russia at inflated prices. A close friend of Poroshenko’s was allegedly involved in the scheme, Euronews says.

 

  • Another problem bedeviling Poroshenko is that economic measures taken at the IMF’s behest have pushed millions of Ukrainians even deeper into poverty.

 

  • As the conflict with Russia-backed separatists drags into a sixth year, living standards continue to decline. The average monthly wage has fallen by the equivalent of $80 since 2013, Reuters reports. Ukraine is stuck at the bottom of the European wealth table.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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We would like to invite you to meet Kathryn Thier, a recognized expert and instructor of Solutions Journalism from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

 

Join us to learn more about the connections between investigative reporting and Solutions Journalism and discover the impact that bringing the “whole” story has on communities. Kathryn’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on bringing the solutions perspective into reporting practices with Nikita Poljakov, deputy editor in chief of the business daily Hospodářské noviny. Nikita is also head of the project “Nejsi sám” (You are not alone), which uses the solutions approach to tackle the issue of male suicide. The main program will be followed by an informal wine reception. 

 

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