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US Embassy is not omnipotent: How Kyiv reacts to Western disontent with Anti-Corruption Court

Author : Yaroslav Konoshchuk

12:20, 22 January 2018
US Embassy is not omnipotent: How Kyiv reacts to Western disontent with Anti-Corruption Court

Author : Yaroslav Konoshchuk

Following criticism of voiced by the IMF and the World Bank, the European Union said that Ukraine's attempts to nullify the effectiveness of the future court violate visa-free obligations

12:20, 22 January 2018

Read the original text at 112.ua.

president.gov.ua

At the end of December 2017, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has introduced his version of the draft law on the Anti-Corruption Court, which was approved in accordance with the memorandum between Ukraine and the IMF. The bill was criticized by Ukraine’s creditors. First of all, IMF has categorically opposed, the organization has sent a letter to the corresponding state bodies. Then the World Bank sent a letter too. Both documents were unofficially shown to the media, which may indicate a high degree of annoyance in the camp of Western financial institutions. Or else, the Ukrainian authorities would simply conceal the existence of letters. So the IMF and the World Bank were forced to act not that ethically to make their position public.

Related: Anti-corruption prosecution may take over anti-corruption bureau’s cases due to information leak

Following criticism of voiced by the IMF and the World Bank, the European Union said that Ukraine's attempts to nullify the effectiveness of the future court violate visa-free obligations. It was the visa-free regime that became one of the main Poroshenko’s trump cards in reforming Ukraine, and the EU openly hints at a possible suspension of visa-free regime.

The West was concerned by the Anti-Corruption Court’s levers of control, prescribed by the President. In their letters, they insist on "giving the public council the right to vet the candidacy of dishonest applicants to the judges of the Anti-Corruption Court instead of the advisory role envisaged for this council." At the beginning of the previous week, Bankova was insisting that "the discussion on the issue should be held exclusively in the Ukrainian parliament." Bankova does not want to lose influence over this extremely important agency or, moreover, transfer it into the hands of the Western partners. During the meeting with the Ambassadors, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stated that the draft law on the Anticorruption Court could still be amended after the first reading. At the same time, according to him, "we must adhere to the Ukrainian Constitution, the principles of Ukrainian sovereignty and legislation."

Related: Poroshenko, Juncker discuss creation of Anti-corruption court by phone

According 112.ua sources in the coalition factions, Bankova is ready for a number of compromises, but it is not going to give up its right of veto regarding the composition of the judges of the Anti-Corruption Court. In accordance with the presidential bill, a public council of international experts participates in the competitive selection for the position of Supreme Anti-Corruption Court judges. In this case, if foreign experts block a candidate for the Anti-Corruption Court judge position, the Supreme Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine can overcome this veto, provided that no less than 11 members of the commission support this decision.

"We are ready to discuss the mechanism for overcoming the veto. But we insist on maintaining this rule, since it concerns the sovereignty of the country. If the parliament allows foreigners to appoint judges, Constitutional Court will recognize the bill as unconstitutional," our interlocutors note. They also state that Bankova is ready to agree to reduce the burden on the Anti-Corruption Court, but it is impossible to create a court under the same structure.

Related: Anti-corruption court is among conditions of EU-Ukraine visa-free regime, - EU delegation

"The court should not only deal with National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) affairs, it should consider cases against all suspected of corruption, and those officials who have problems with electronic declarations," our interlocutors add. Ukrainian political elite does not forget to emphasize that such a court is an exception to the world practice.

Sources believe that Presidential Administration plans to adopt the bill in the first reading at the beginning of February. After that, a discussion should take place, then the draft law should be finalize, and the final vote should take place in May.

Meanwhile, even the pro-presidential faction has no unity regarding the Anti-Corruption Court. Some MPs believe that the creation of such a court is contrary to the Constitution, and categorically oppose it.

However, the initial plans of Presidential Administration on this issue remain only on paper. January 18, only 183 MPs "for" the draft law (at least 226 votes are needed to approve the bill). However, at the evening meeting the situation did not change, and the bill was supported by 224 deputies only.

Related: Draft Law on Anticorruption Court meets Venice Commission recommendations

The prospects for creating an anticorruption court look very vague. Against this background, the EU has sharply criticized the presidential bill on the Anti-Corruption Court, noting that it does not meet the promises made by the official Kyiv.

By the way, according to eurointegration.com.ua, at the end of last week the EU mission has also sent its official letter to the head of the Presidential Administration, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and key ministers, in which the EU officially notified Ukraine of its position.

However, according to 112.ua sources in the parliamentary coalition, Presidential Administration is not in hurry with the adoption of the bill.

Related: World Bank urges to amend presidential draft-law on Anti-corruption court

"There Anti-Corruption Court will not be created. The US Embassy is not omnipotent, it can force Yatsenyuk to vote, but nobody else except him would obey... Bankova is not interested yet," says our interlocutor.

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