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Why Ukrainian anti-corruption agencies squabble among themselves?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Against the background of the shooting in the Zhytomyr region, rape in Kaharlyk, the shooting in Brovary, another scandal related to the law enforcement sphere goes almost unnoticed in Ukraine – the conflict between Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova and head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office Nazar Kholodnytsky
23:14, 2 June 2020

112 Agency

Against the background of the shooting in the Zhytomyr region, rape in Kaharlyk, the shooting in Brovary, another scandal related to the law enforcement sphere goes almost unnoticed in Ukraine – the conflict between Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova and head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office Nazar Kholodnytsky.

The essence of the conflict is undeniably important. But even more important here is the fact that numerous anti-corruption institutions emerge in Ukraine. They were launched but did not justify the aim of creating them.

  1. National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU)

By announcing a massive fight against corruption in 2014, Ukraine has embarked on the creation of appropriate structures. One of the first to emerge was the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). Petro Poroshenko created it on April 16, 2015. On the same day, NABU was headed by Artem Sytnyk, who is the permanent director of the Bureau to this day. The creation of NABU was one of the requirements of the International Monetary Fund.

What does the Bureau do? The investigation of taking bribes, if their amount exceeds 500 minimum wages, which today is over 1.5 million USD. The Agency consists of a central and seven territorial administrations, while the maximum number of NABU is 700 people. Controlled by NABU to the parliamentary anti-corruption committee.

Related: NABU informs ex-CEO of Ukroboronprom Bukin on suspicion

  1. NAPK

The National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) arose almost simultaneously with NABU. Actually, NAPK is a little version of NABU. The difference is that if NABU catches large fish, then NAPK sets up networks for corrupt officials of any caliber.

NAPK checks the declarations of all government officials without exception. In any case, I have to do it. And officials should record in their declarations any property whose value exceeds 100 minimum wages. This list includes clothes, jewelry, and art. NAPK also checks the finances of political parties. According to the law, every year they are required to submit a report to the agency.

The agency has a staff list of 311 people. Now his leadership consists of three people - the chairman and two deputies. The preliminary head of the NAZK was Natalia Korchak, later Oleksandr Novikov repaced her. The launch of the anti-corruption agency was one of the requirements of the European Union regarding a visa-free regime with Ukraine. NAPK is responsible to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and reports to the Cabinet of Ministers.

Related: Key witness in NABU director corruption case ready to take a lie detector test

  1. SAP

The Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office (SAP) is mistakenly considered a separate authority, although it is actually a structural unit of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine. The SAP was created by the order of Prosecutor General of Ukraine Viktor Shokin of September 22, 2015. December 1, 2015, it was headed by Nazar Kholodnytsky. He reports directly to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, being his deputy in office.

Like ordinary prosecutors, the SAP supports the state prosecution in the courts. True, this applies only to corruption cases that are conducted by NABU. The law also imposes on the SAP supervising the observance of laws when conducting investigative activities by NABU detectives. As in the case of NACP, the creation of SAP was closely linked to the prospects of visa liberalization between Ukraine and the European Union.

  1. SACC

The Supreme Anti-Corruption Court is a long-term construction among other anti-corruption structures. It earned in September 2019, and this despite the fact that back in June 2016, relevant amendments to the law of Ukraine "On the judicial system and the status of judges" were adopted. In accordance with them, for the consideration of cases of a certain kind in Ukraine create the highest specialized courts - the High Anti-Corruption and the High Court on Intellectual Property. Many of the lawyers considered and still consider the VAKS an extra link in the justice system. His mission is indeed quite narrow: according to the plan, this court should consider cases that the SAP deals with.

Related: Prosecutor General’s Office extends investigation of Sheremet’s murder until June 12

  1. ARMA

National Agency of Ukraine for the identification, search and management of assets obtained from corruption and other crimes, the abbreviated name is the Agency for the search and management of assets or ARMA.

ARMA was launched in February 2016 by the will of the Cabinet of Ministers and also in the framework of obtaining a visa-free regime. It has not only narrow but very limited functionality since it mainly deals with confiscated resources

  1. SBI

The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) cannot be called an anti-corruption body, but this is not a completely ordinary structure. The status of the State Security Bureau says that the State Bureau is investigating crimes committed by the "nobility", and then there is a long list of those who can be the "client" of this body, namely: former presidents and current prime ministers, the entire composition of the government along with deputy ministers, MPs, members of the CEC, the Verkhovna Rada’s authorized representative for human rights, heads of the NABU, NAPK, SAP, the National Bank, etc. SBI also investigates war crimes.

The first attempts to create something similar were in 1997 and were practically implemented in 2016. First chairman of the SBI was Roman Truba, who subsequently, not without scandal, was dismissed from his post. Now the State Bureau does not have a leader, Oleksandr Sokolov temporarily performs his functions.

Related: Prosecutor General’s Office serves law enforcers with charges in Maidan case

  1. MIA + SBU

Do not forget that the “old-timers” of the law enforcement front, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), or rather, the National Police, also fight corruption in Ukraine. As for the SBU, the Service remains the oldest body of Ukraine in the fight against corruption. Branch "K", responsible for this area, was established on January 13, 1992.

However, the SBU drawback is the very wide specialization of this department. In addition to corruption, Department K is involved in smuggling and the international drug business, transnational organized crime, human trafficking, and illegal migration. As for the police, it is also obliged to catch bribe-takers. But very small ones - those that are of no interest to NABU.

... and a child without an eye

With such a grandiose amount of anti-corruption structures (and each of them, by the way, draws considerable funding from the budget), Ukraine should have overcome this shameful phenomenon for a long time. But no. In 2019 (compared to 2018), our state only worsened its performance.

There is the so-called “Corruption Perceptions Index,” that is, an annual study by Transparency International. The index is a rating from 0 (very high level of corruption) to 100 (extremely low level of corruption). So, according to the rating, in 2019 Ukraine received 30 points and took 126th place among 180 countries and territories. And this result is a certain regression because in 2018 Ukraine took the 120th place with 32 points.

Related: IMF: Amendment of legislation on NABU may create problem in cooperation with Ukraine

Scandals. Sytnyk and ATVs

Top 5 scandals involving leading anti-corruption officials are opened by Artem Sytnyk. From 2017 to 2019, he repeatedly "rested" in luxury hunting estate. Strana.ua outlet notes that Sytnyk stayed there at least five times and each time his wishlist contained expensive whims, including elite varieties of alcohol.

And some “unknown strangers” paid for all this luxury. The elite relaxation of Sytnyk each time cost at least 3,500 USD. But for some reason, he “forgot” to indicate this moment in his declaration.

More than a year ago, in March 2019, MP Boryslav Rosenblat, who himself is a defendant in the "amber business," released a recording on which a man with the voice of the director of NABU Artem Sytnyk tells how he helped US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 elections year. But this is another story

Related: Criminal proceedings opened against ex-Prosecutor General Ryaboshapka, - media

Sytnyk vs Kholodnytsky

How did Sytnyk help Americans? According to Rosenblat, by publishing the black bookkeeping of the Party of Regions. Recall that the relevant documentation was found in Mezhyhirya after the ex-president Yanukovych escaped from there. The materials from which it followed that the "regionals" paid for public relations and consulting to Trump's lawyer Paul Manafort, cast a shadow on both Manafort and Trump. So, to “ignite” this data was beneficial to the then-rival of Trump, the candidate for the presidency of the United States from the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton.

On numerous airs, Rosenblatt noted that Sytnyk “clearly indicates that he works for Hillary and does everything in the interests of the Ukrainian people, but against the American people” on the published record. On the record, a man with the voice of Sytnyk really says: "I helped Hillary."

Kholodnytsky vs Venedyktova

As already mentioned at the beginning of the article, the scandal between Kholodnytsky and Venedyktova is completely new. As recently as May 26, Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova announced that the SAP, in her opinion, was working very carelessly. Venedyktova noted that the investigators of the SAP did not finish a number of resonant processes, for which the perpetrators were not punished, and multimillion-dollar losses were not reimbursed to the state. Venedyktova voiced all her claims in the video for a few minutes, concluding that the work of the SAP could not be recognized as worthy, but rather, shameful.

Kholodnytsky was outraged by such estimates. And to put forward counterarguments, they used the Facebook network. On the night of May 26-27, an open letter appeared on the SAP page stating that the Attorney General did not have the right to give them instructions. This is the first. And secondly, the SAP categorically disagrees with Venedyktova’s words about the lack of work results and inaction. For every case that is in the department, the people of Kholodnytsky are ready to give a complete and comprehensive report.

Truba and records

The SBI, as a new institution, caused a lot of complaints even at the time of its creation in 2016. It was headed by Roman Truba, who was considered completely dependent on President Poroshenko, and he really had been devoted to the latter for a long three years - until the end of the cadence of the fifth president.

Because after that, Truba changed its "orientation". SIB began to start criminal proceedings against Poroshenko, and now there is almost a dozen of them. Roman Truba considered his number one task bringing of Poroshenko’s criminal intent.

Related: Audio records of Poroshenko, Kerry, Biden talks on Prosecutor General Shokin’s dismissal are published

But he did not manage to finish his intention. Because his first big scandal occurred precisely because he actively persuaded the Zelensky’s team in his personal devotion. Truba’s conversations were recorded and made public.  After this, Roman Truba was dismissed; his department was temporarily held by Venedyktova.

According to our sources, the idea of ​​eliminating SAP and NABU has long been hatched at Bankova. Frankly speaking, there are few benefits of both structures. Actually, Venedyktova’s latest public statements indicate that the prosecutor general of his subordinate Kholodnytsky has already blamed for dismissal. And the structure he heads is for liquidation. Given the proximity of Venedyktova to the president, this issue can be considered resolved. Or almost resolved.

The same applies to NABU, where Artem Sytnyk is “unsuitable” for our power no less than Nazar Kholodnytsky. And not even because of his interference in Ukrainian-American relations and playing along with the democrats. As you know, the current head of state headed for the support of incumbent Republican President Donald Trump, so the fact of how Sytnyk "helped Hillary" is rather sad for President’s Office.

Related: Court obliges Prosecutor's Office to look into Biden's possible interference in work of ex-Prosecutor General

However, the pro-government faction will need parliamentary votes to introduce appropriate amendments to the legislation for the final elimination of the SAP and the NABU. Will the Servant of the People find enough votes to support this decision?

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