Ukraine fails to elect anti-corruption prosecutor

22 December 2021

The commission for selecting the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) failed to elect the SAPO head at its Dec. 21 meeting. Out of two candidates, a detective of the National Anticorruption Bureau (NABU), Oleksandr Klymenko, gained 246 points, while his competitor from the Prosecutor General's Office, Andriy Syniuk, gained 229 points. Although there is clarity about the winner of the selection process, the commission failed to vote for him. After a 10-hour meeting, the commission decided to put off the final voting, referring to procedural needs.


The commission consists of four representatives of Ukraine’s international partners and six appointees of the parliament, some of which are controlled by the Office of President, according to Vtaliy Shabunin, head of the NGO Anti-Corruption Action Center. Out of six parliamentary appointees to the commission, five failed to vote for the election of Klymenko at the position of SAPO head on Dec. 21.


According to Shabunin, the deputy head of the Presidential Office, Oleg Tatarov, is lobbying for the selection of Syniuk as a head of SAPO and he is doing everything to prevent the election of Klymenko, who investigated Tatarov’s corruption in NABU. Klymenko, who proved his independence from Ukraine's power brokers, is being supported by the country’s international partners.


Recall, the Presidential Office issued a press release on Dec. 20 declaring its “maximum interest” in the selection commissions’ “ending all the needed procedures by the end of the year” and stated it sees no reasons for the selection's delay. A call for the “prompt” selection of the SAPO head was mentioned in a joint statement of Biden and Zelensky on Sept. 1 during Zelensky’s visit to Washington. In the recent memorandum with the IMF, published in early November, the Ukrainian government mentioned its intention to appoint a new SAPO head by end-November.


Alexander Paraschiy: It is painful to observe top politicians’ attempts to prevent the selection of an independent SAPO head, and to realize that with such actions, Zelensky is making a bold step to spoil his relationship with the West. Needless to say, this significantly spoils Ukraine’s investment case.


At this stage, it is hard to estimate whether the government’s attempt to appoint a controllable SAPO head will succeed. To prevent such a scenario, more pressure from the West on the Ukrainian president and his office might be needed.