Cabinet undermines NABU head selection process, Shabunin alleges

15 February 2022

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers made a decision that might undermine the process of selecting the new director of the National Anticorruption Bureau (NABU), Vitaliy Shabunin, head of the NGO Anti-Corruption Action Center, reported on Feb. 15. In particular, the Cabinet appointed five members of the commission for NABU director selection, while six members are required, by law, for the commission to be valid. By law, the commission must be formed no later than two months before the tenure of the current NABU director expires, which is Feb. 15, according to Shabunin. Failure to create the commission on time allows any court to question its validity, meaning that any candidate to be offered by such commission can be rejected. Shabunin personally blames President Zelensky for this act of sabotage by the government during the creation of the commission.


The current NABU director Artem Sytnyk was appointed to this position for seven years in April 2015. He proved his independence from the government in the NABU’s attempts to fight corruption. Recall, another important anti-corruption body, the Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) has had no head since August 2020. The selection commission for SAPO head was close to electing NABU detective Oleksandr Klymenko to the position in December. However, the commission’s members failed to make a final vote at their three meetings in December and February, which anti-corruption activists consider to be sabotage.


Alexander Paraschiy: Indeed, the questionable validity of the NABU director selection commission is expedient for power brokers: if the government considers a selected NABU head as unacceptable, it will have all the legal means to avoid his ultimate appointment. In this way, the power brokers guarantee that the new NABU director will be either dependent on the president, or not appointed at all. In such circumstances, the anti-corruption infrastructure will have a weak link, even in case the government finally appoints the independent SAPO head. All in all, Ukraine’s western sponsors are close to losing their battle for establishing an independent anti-corruption infrastructure in Ukraine, consisting of the NABU, the SAPO and the High Anticorruption Court.


Clearly, this does not play for Ukraine’s investment case and even questions the prospects for the provision of the already announced Western financial support for Ukraine. Therefore, the only reason for such support to come to Ukraine is a need to fight the potential Russian aggression.