IMF calls upon Poroshenko to halt attacks on anti-corruption bodies

7 December 2017

The IMF called upon the administration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to halt its attack on the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and approve legislation creating an independent Anti-Corruption Court in a Dec. 6 statement. “We urge the Ukrainian authorities and parliament to safeguard the independence of NABU and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office,” said Managing Director Christine Lagarde. “We also urge the authorities to move quickly with legislation to operationalize an independent Anti-Corruption Court consistent with the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which is essential to credibly adjudicate high-level corruption cases.”


The heads of the parliamentary factions of the Poroshenko Bloc and People’s Front submitted on Dec. 6 legislation that would enable dismissing the head of the NABU without an audit. The legislation has since been removed from the parliament’s agenda, reported this morning MP Mustafa Nayyem just couple of hours after the IMF’s statement was released. The NABU, led by Artem Sytnyk, is considered to be Ukraine’s most independent law enforcement body and has been backed by Western governments in its ongoing conflict with the Poroshenko administration.


Meanwhile, the members of the parliamentary anti-corruption committee voted to recommend that parliament dismiss as its committee head Yegor Sobolev, an MP with the Self-Reliance party and among the leaders of the Rada Maidan tent city protest outside of parliament. In addition, Sobolev would have had to approve the review by the anti-corruption committee of the legislation to dismiss the NABU head without an audit.


In response, Hugh Mingarelli, the head of the European Union delegation to Ukraine, expressed his concern about Sobolev’s dismissal, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported. “I would like to call upon the Rada to carefully think before such a recommendation is approved at the plenary session, taking into account the international concern regarding the latest events in the fight against corruption in Ukraine,” he said.


The whereabouts of Rada Maidan leader Mikheil Saakashvili were not reported by Ukrainian media as of this morning. Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko had given him 24 hours on Dec. 6 to surrender to authorities as he is wanted and is under police search. Saakashvili’s lawyer claimed that he went to the Prosecutor General’s Office to receive the declaration of him being a suspect in criminal activity, which was not made available.


That evening, Saakashvili repeated the goals of his protest movement from the Rada Maidan stage. “I can already announce the plan: remove criminal groups from Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies in a legal manner and begin impeachment procedures against the organized criminal groups led by Poroshenko,” he said, as reported by the UNIAN news agency.


Zenon Zawada: These events confirm that the Poroshenko administration is in full conflict with Western governments and instiutions. This has severely harmed his credibility with the public both domestically and abroad, which had already been at low levels before this political crisis. He is essentially becoming a lame duck president, which creates enormous security risks for a nation that is trying to resist Russian military aggression.


We believe that many key players, both in Ukraine and abroad, are considering a means out of this crisis to be early elections. Not only would that resolve the tensions in society, but they would also prevent Poroshenko from further solidifying his authoritarian chain of command that would enable falsifying the 2019 elections. Early elections have the support of Saakashvili’s protest movement, the nationalist forces, as well as the Fatherland and Self-Reliance parties in parliament.


Efforts are also being made behind the scenes to launch a powerful reforms-oriented party for the 2019 elections that isn't on the radar screen yet. Western-educated pop star Sviatoslav Vakarchuk has been floated as a possible presidential candidate for this party, while a slew of reform-oriented MPs would be ready to lead its parliamentary list. This party would be ready to lead another maidan protest if the elections are falsified.

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