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Old 10th December 2014, 21:54
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Former European Taxation Commissioner appointed business anti-corruption ombudsman in Ukraine
Dec. 10, 2014, 8:53 p.m. | Politics — by Interfax-Ukraine

Former European Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Semeta has been appointed Business Ombudsman for Ukraine's Anti-Corruption Initiative, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) office in Kyiv has said in a statement.
Former European Taxation Commissioner appointed business anti-corruption ombudsman in Ukraine
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Old 12th December 2014, 17:43
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Venice Commission, Ukraine agree to improve lustration law
Dec. 12, 2014, 7:13 p.m. | Kyiv Post+ — by Kyiv Post+, Oleg Sukhov

The Venice Commission on Dec. 12 toned down its criticism of Ukraine’s lustration law and agreed with Ukrainian authorities to improve it.

Critics of the legislation argue that it contradicts the Constitution and international standards, while supporters say that reforming Ukraine and reining in corruption will be impossible without the law.

The Venice Commission, a legal advisory body of the Council of Europe, issued a statement on Dec. 12 following talks with Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko, Yegor Sobolev, head of the non-governmental Lustration Committee and chairman of the Verkhovna Rada's anti-corruption committee, and Leonid Yemets, a co-author of the lustration law. They went to Venice earlier this week to persuade the commission that the law was necessary and legitimate.

Sobolev and Yemets were not available by phone.

“The Venice Commission has drastically changed its previous conclusion on the lustration law after two days of talks with our delegation,” Petrenko said on Facebook. “Lustration will happen!... Certain people’s plans to discredit the law by using the respectable European institution have failed.”

The Venice Commission’s statement contained milder language than a draft previously considered by the commission and obtained by the Kyiv Post.

The commission said that “the law in its current form contained several serious shortcomings and welcomed the readiness of the Ukrainian authorities to amend the law in line with the Ukrainian Constitution and European standards.”

“The Venice Commission recalls that lustration does not constitute a violation of human rights per se, as a democratic state is entitled to require civil servants to be loyal to the constitutional principles on which it is founded,” the commission said. “However, in order to respect human rights, the rule of law and democracy, lustration must strike a fair balance between defending the democratic society on the one hand and protecting individual rights on the other.”

The experts also said that the role of lustration should be a “specific and narrowly tailored one”; it might complement other means of ensuring justice like criminal law but can never replace them. While the general principles governing the lustration process are all enumerated in the law in line with European guidelines, the law does not live up to these principles, the commission said.

Commenting on the experts’ criticism, Yury Derevyanko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada responsible for amending the law, said by phone that Ukraine was represented at the commission by people who are themselves subject to lustration, Party of Regions members Serhiy Kivalov and Volodymyr Pylypenko. “They are doing their best to completely destroy the lustration law,” Derevyank said.

Kivalov gained notoriety for heading the Central Elections Commission during the 2004 presidential election, when voting fraud led to the Orange Revolution.

Sobolev and Yemets represent a different position, Derevyanko said. “It’s important for the commission to see the objective picture.”

Derevyanko said, however, that no law was perfect and that the lustration law could be amended.

The provision on firing former KGB employees and KGB school graduates could be modified, he said. The problem is that strictly enforcing the law would lead to most of Security Service and Border Guard employees being fired, he added.

The provision on firing former communist functionaries is also debatable, Derevyanko said.

The commission said that it found questionable the application of the law to a period stretching from the Soviet period to former President Viktor Yanukovych's term and urged Ukraine to fix an end to the lustration process in the future to avoid turning it into a “never-ending story.”

Applying lustration measures to top Yanukovych-era officials would ultimately amount to questioning the actual functioning of the constitutional and legal framework of Ukraine as a democratic state governed by the rule of law, they said.

Derevyanko disagreed. “What’s the point of the law if (Yanukovych-era officials) are saints?” he said. “Then they did everything right.”

The experts said that the list of positions to be lustrated should be reconsidered, as lustration must concern only positions which may genuinely pose a significant danger to human rights or democracy.

The Venice Commission also advised against including judges in the lustration law, given that they are the object of another specific law adopted in April. But Derevyanko said that the new lustration law, unlike the April one, would subject judges to property lustration, and it would be unreasonable to exclude them from the process.

Another issue raised by the commission is that “guilt must be proven in each individual case, and cannot be presumed on the basis of the mere belonging to a category of public offices, and therefore the criteria for lustration should be reconsidered.” The lustration law should specifically provide for the guarantees of a fair trial; court proceedings should suspend the administrative decision on lustration until the final judgment, the experts said.

The Venice Commission also recommended removing the responsibility for carrying out lustration from the Ministry of Justice and entrusting it to a specifically created independent commission, with the active involvement of the civil society. Venice Commission, Ukraine agree to improve lustration law
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Old 13th December 2014, 03:56
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Open Dialogue foundation told about the prospects of Ukraine’s Lustration law
2014/12/12 • Political News EUROMAIDAN PRESS

On December 11, Agnieszka Piasecka, the Project Coordinator to support lustration and justice reform in Ukraine from Poland’s Open Dialog Foundation, presented an analysis of Ukraine’s lustration law in the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. Experts from Czech Republic, France, Poland, and other countres compared Ukraine’s bill “On Purification of Government” with European law, namely the Resolution 1096 that was adopted by the European Council in 1996 and that gives recommendations to post-communist countries wanting to part with the past.

Getting rid of corruption was one of the main demands of the Euromaidan revolution of 2013-2014. But the topic of lustration was brought to the surface as far back as 2004, during the Orange Revolution. Ukraine adopted a law on Lustration on 16 September 2014, following many amendments. It sets out the goal to cleanse Ukraine’s government of corrupt officials with the following specifics:

=lustration is to be done under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, which will be in turn supported and controlled by a Public Lustration Committee.
=the head of each regional administration is to be responsible for the lustration process in their institution;
=each candidate for a civil servant position will be obliged to fill out a lustration declaration, answering to questions about sources of income and participation in active measures against Euromaidan participants.
=only three top levels of public officials throughout state administration and only non-elected civil servants are subject to lustration.

President Petro Poroshenko signed the law despite claiming that complex anti-corruption measures are a better solution for a country in a state of armed conflict, and noted that this piece of legislature may be amended after receiving recommendations from the Venice Committee.

The old political system resists any lustration, Euromaidan activists insist that it should be much harsher .

The law immediately gathered opponents from the political establishment that lost power after Euromaidan (members of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, Communists, and a number of other MPs). Maskym Mankovsky, a member of the Public Lustration Committee, claims that it was the old political powers clinging to power that submitted the Lustration Law to the Venice committee: “there are citizens who are against this law and lustration itself. They want the old system to stay, and our law is breaking it. Those people have applied to the Venice Commission.” Yury Derevyanko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada responsible for amending the law taking into account the Comission’s suggestions, told KyivPost that Ukraine was represented at the commission by people who are themselves subject to lustration that are “doing their best to completely destroy the lustration law,” referring to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions members Serhiy Kivalov and Volodymyr Pylypenko.

Deputy chairman of the Lustration NGO Oleksandr Kulikovski says that Kivalov, who gained notoriety heading the Central Elections Commission during the 2004 presidential election when voting fraud led to the Orange Revolution, is able to represent Ukraine at the Venice Commission in the first place because the Lustration Law version that was adopted wasn’t harsh enough in the first place, and that his group will demand a harsher lustration.

Serhii Ivanov, another member of the Public Lustration Committee, claims that “Ukrainian opponents of lustration don’t give any sensible arguments, they even confuse the terms. In reality, it is a total sabotage of the law about purification of this sabotage has been inspired by people who represent the regime of Yanukovych.”

Open Dialog’s criticism concurs with remarks by the Venice Commission

The Open Dialog Foundation’s report on lustration in Ukraine has many positive notes, claiming that it has gone all the way from a social postulation through the legislative path down to its implementation; it has also started to yield its first effects in the form of numerous resignations of, in all likelihood, strongly corrupt public officials.

However, the experts involved believe that the lustration process will be more effective if an independent institution to deal with it would be established. It would be hard to maintain control over the process if it is to be done in a decentralized manner, considers Agnieszka Piasecka: this will limit the abilities of heads of public administrations and judges to manipulation information. The experts also insist that elective posts should not get off the hook: in the Ukrainian political context the opaque elective legislature allows voting for party lists and not for a specific candidate; therefore, being elected doesn’t mean having societal support. Another issue to pay attention to are conflicts with other existing laws and to make sure that the lustration carries an individual character, i.e. that persons would be judged based on their trespassings and not on the evils of colleagues in the same positions.

The Venice Commission has also issued recommendations on improving the Law on December 12, and the main points reiterate the expert assessment of the Open Dialog foundation, namely – the need to establish an independent institution that would be responsible for the process, and to ensure that collective responsibility is to be avoided.

The lustration process in Ukraine today is done in the course of 4-6 months, while for maximum effectiveness it should take only 7-10 days. Up to date, only 350 civil servants have been lustrated. Overall, the Lustration law has up do date yielded meager results, with the SBU, Justice Ministry, and Poroshenko being accused of sabotaging the process.

Representatives of Lustration Committee will distribute the report by Open Dialog Foundation among activists in the Ukrainian regions, as it summarizes well the entire work process of lustration.

The Open Dialog Foundation was established on the initiative of Lyudmyla Kozlovska (currently the President of the Foundation) in Poland in 2009. The Foundation was set up on the basis of experiences gained and contacts developed during the period of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and thereafter, through international activities and cooperation with Ukrainian student organisations and citizens’ movements. The Foundation devotes special attention to the largest countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States: Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Open Dialogue foundation told about the prospects of Ukraine’s Lustration law | EUROMAIDAN PRESS | News and Opinion from Across Ukraine
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Old 14th December 2014, 20:02
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A visit to get anti-corruption experience
What else is advised to do in the first place in Lee Kuan Yew’s homeland
Mykola Siruk 11 December, 2014 DEN-THE DAY

A two-day working visit of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko to Singapore began on December 9. And judging by his tweets, the focus of his negotiations with the leadership of this island country is taking over Singapore’s experience of fighting corruption.

“Fighting corruption is our priority. We must be transparent. Cooperation with Singapore will give a powerful signal of trust for the investors. The more effectively we fight against the corruption, the better investment climate we will be able to create and the more investments we will be able to receive. We are impressed with the results of Singapore’s anti-corruption policy, investment climate, and new technologies. This is what we also need to implement,” this is what Poroshenko wrote on Twitter about the result of negotiations with the leaders of Singapore.

Everyone remembers how on June 19 Petro Poroshenko presented Vitalii Yarema as a candidate for the Prosecutor General’s post. In particular, back then, in a form of advice to the future law enforcer, the Ukrainian president quoted the words of the “Singapore wonder” Lee Kuan Yew: “Start with putting three of your friends to jail. You definitely know what for, and people will believe you.” But things have not been moved an inch.

According to the President’s press service, Poroshenko and acting director of the Corruption Practices Investigation Bureau of Singapore James Low agreed on training of Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine workers in this structure.

Besides, during the meeting with Singapore’s President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Poroshenko thanked Singapore for its unflinching support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and readiness to share its experience. “We are impressed with the results of your anti-corruption policy, investment climate, new technologies, and new synergies. This is what we also need to implement,” he said.

In his turn, both the President of Singapore and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasized during the meetings with Poroshenko that territorial integrity, sovereignty, and inviolability of borders are the principles that must not be broken. Indeed, it is important for our country to hear such statements in support of territorial integrity.

The Ukrainian president, whose next destination after Singapore is Australia, told his interlocutors that Ukraine is doing everything possible to promote the international independent investigation of the Malaysian Airline MH17 crash, led by the Netherlands. “We have to demonstrate joint effort not to let such tragedies repeat in the future,” he emphasized.

During the discussion of cooperation in science and technology area, Singapore’s prime minister underlined Ukraine’s potential in the sphere, where our country “has a lot of outstanding scientists.”

Another positive aspect is that both parties emphasized the necessity to resume the negotiations on free trade between Ukraine and Singapore, as well as on international macro-financial aid to Ukraine.

The Day addressed experts with a request to explain the reason for Singapore’s successful experience of fighting corruption, and what Ukraine should learn from this state in the first place.

complete read: A visit to get anti-corruption experience | The Day newspaper
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Old 16th December 2014, 22:36
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16:57 16.12.2014
'Macro-corruption' in Ukraine has been eradicated – Yatseniuk

Ukraine has passed its toughest anti-corruption laws, which has made it possible to eradicate corruption at the macro level, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk claims.

"The president and the government launched anti-corruption legislation two months ago. This is the toughest approach," he said at a conference at the European Policy Centre in Brussels on Tuesday.

Yatseniuk said Ukraine had succeeded vs. 'macro-level corruption.'

"For the first time we've got direct contracts between [Ukrainian oil and gas giant NJSC] Naftogaz and European companies. Neither bribes nor shadowy schemes," he said.

At the same time, he said much remains to be done at the micro level, where the government plans to tackle problems through de-regulation, among other things.

"The less regulation is used, the weaker corruption becomes," he said.
'Macro-corruption' in Ukraine has been eradicated – Yatseniuk
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Old 17th December 2014, 16:00
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"'Macro-corruption' in Ukraine has been eradicated – Yatseniuk"
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Old 20th December 2014, 17:37
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Kuzmin accuses Kuchma of paying a $1 billion bribe to be cleared of Gongadze murder charges
Dec. 19, 2014, 8:01 p.m. | Ukraine — by Anastasia Forina

Renat Kuzmin, Ukraine's former top deputy prosecutor general who fled the nation after the EuroMaidan Revolution, said that a $1 billion bribe was paid to drop murder charges against ex-President Leonid Kuchma.

A long trail of evidence has tied Kuchma, an authoritarian president during a 10-year reign that ended in 2004, to the murder of journalist Georgy Gongadze on Sept. 16, 2000.

Kuchma has always denied the charges. Responding to the latest allegations, Kuchma told to the Kyiv Post that Kuzmin's accusations are “yet another dirty lie.”

“In 2013, we received the information that a colossal $1 billion bribe was paid to close the criminal case against Kuchma,” Kuzmin said via skype during the TV show “The Right For Power” on 1+1 channel on Dec. 18.

Kuzmin also said that those who paid the bribe also wanted him fired.

Kuzmin's reputation is also tarnished by his aggressive pursuit of criminal cases against the political enemies of overthrown President Viktor Yanukovych, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko chief among them.

Interior Ministry put Kuzmin on wanted list in June. He is accused of the illegal arrest of former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko in 2010. Kuzmin, however, managed to leave the country by that time and his whereabouts remain unknown.

In 2011, the Kyiv Pechersk District Court closed the criminal case against Kuchma. It ruled that tapes recorded by Kuchma’s former guard Mykola Melnychenko which reveal alleged conversations of Kuchma ordering subordinates to eliminate Gongadze, were obtained illegally and can't be the evidence.

Kuzmin said that during his tenure at prosecutor's general office the tapes were accepted as legal evidence following the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

As of now, the top person who is paying the penalty over Gongadze case is former police general Oleksiy Pukach, who in 2013 was sentenced to life imprisonment after he confessed in the murder. Myroslava Gongadze, journalist’s wife appealed the ruling in February 2013, as she wanted those who ordered the murder to be brought to justice. The trial on Pukach and court hearings on the appeal were closed for public.

Ukraine’s head of Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Valentyn Nalyvaichenko who also participated in the Dec. 18 TV show that he would like all the materials of the case to be disclosed. He said he plans to request from the Kyiv Court of Appeals to onsider the appeal to Pukach’s verdict publicly.

“This insidious job of people from former security services and Interior Ministry has to be revealed. The law should ban anyone from working against journalists," Nalyvaichenko said.

The SBU is ready to assist with further investigation of Gongadze case, according to him.

Kuchma’s family, including Pinchuk who’s wealth is estimated at $3.2 billion, remains influential and still has influence on many public officials, Kuzmin said. “This family in particular always had influence on president Yanukovych. Many Ukrainian oppositionists know very well the role of Kuchma in their fates. Even now this family is trying to influence all most important events in Ukraine,” he said.

“I hope that President (Petro) Poroshenko, Prime Minister (Arseniy) Yatsenyuk and his ministers will be able to resist this pressure,” he said.

Kuzmin said that he is ready to provide any help he can to the current leadership for further investigation of the case.

Observers said that the interview at 1+1 channel, which is owned by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, is a part of a smear campaign against Pinchuk ahead of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit in London, which is due to start next year.

Pinchuk in March 2013 filed a suit at London's High Court against Kolomoisky and his business partner Hennadiy Boholyubov, claiming that they breached a contract to privatize on his behalf and manage the Kryvy Rih Iron Ore Plant.

Pinchuk claims the assets are now worth $1 billion and he is also owed $1 billion in unpaid dividends. “They (Pinchuk and Kolomoisky) will continue to say hello to each other through television,” lawmaker and former investigative journalist Serhiy Leshchenko said on his Facebook page. Kuzmin accuses Kuchma of paying a $1 billion bribe to be cleared of Gongadze murder charges
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