One of President Petro Poroshenko’s closest allies is Ukraine’s new top prosecutor, a position vital to fighting rampant corruption and implementing broad judicial reforms. An overwhelming 264 MPs voted for Yuriy Lutsenko, the head of Poroshenko's parliamentary faction, to take the job. The decision was immediately approved by the Ukrainian Head of State in the Rada hall.
During the parliament session on May 12, Lutsenko told lawmakers:
"I’ve never worried like this, even though I’ve taken many paths in life. I fully realise the responsibility that lies on me, not only from the point of view of honest, professional work and results but also that of restoring the people's confidence in their native country”
The appointment could ring alarm bells in the European Union and U.S, who have long demanded a politically independent and experienced professional be chosen for the job. Hours before Lutsenko's selection, parliamentarians passed a bill altering the legal experience requirements.
Serhiy Leshchenko, perceived as one of Ukraine’s main reformist MPs, told the Shuster Live show on May 11, “This is savage. In the civilized world, laws are not passed for one person.”, the Kyiv Post reports.
An overhaul of the graft-tainted judicial system has been a key issue in Ukraine since Kremlin-leaning President Viktor Yanukovych fled office following the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution.
Lutsenko was a key figure during Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution but was jailed in 2010 for embezzlement and abuse of office, shortly after Yanukovych came to power. Back then, Lutsenko's supporters argued all the charges were politically motivated.
In late March 2016, Poroshenko’s ally Viktor Shokin was ousted from the General Prosecutors Office following widespread claims he stalled high-profile investigations and covered up state-level corruption probes.