Today the world celebrates Anti-Corruption Day on Dec. 9. Three years since the beginning of the EuroMaidan Revolution, also called Revolution of Dignity, the disrespect for citizens and terrible corruption were reasons for people’s anger in 2013. The people were ready to lose their lives for changes in the country. Former President Viktor Yanukovych was acknowledged the most corrupt official in the world according to the Unmask the Corrupt results. The politicians, who supported the revolution, promised changes. Now they take power.
Did they keep their promises and implement the reforms?
People were ready to lose their lives for changes in the country. Yanukovych, who fled power because of the revolution, was acknowledged as the most corrupt official in the world, according to the Unmask the Corrupt results. Politicians who supported the revolution promised changes. Now they take power. Did they keep their promises and implement the reforms? Let us try to understand.
Corrupt officials away!
Recently after the revolution, Ukraine received a reserve for anti-corruption reforms. On Oct. 14, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada approved a set of anti-corruption laws. The laws were developed by the progressive anti-corruption experts, especially Transparency International Ukraine. They provide establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and National Agency on Corruption Prevention, which should introduce e-declaration for officials, etc. The anti-corruption strategy for 2014-2017 and state programs for its implementation were also approved.
However, it was clear that neither laws, not strategy would be implemented. The system resisted the changes, and it meant overlapping corruption channels enriching many officials.
So, civil society came. Due to support of the international donors, anti-corruption activists worked in several directions. There were public statements and meetings with officials, protest meetings, numerous interviews and press conferences for media, printing information products, training events to explain the society why the country needed changes.
The authorities tried to control processes of establishing independent anti-corruption institutions in details, promote potentially controlled people. For example, during online formation of the Civil Oversight Council at the National Anti-Corrupton Bureau of Ukraine, the vote was not protected technically.
There was cheating with votes at the website and the society demanded a “rerun.”
Establishment of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention was a fight at each stage – from formation of civil part of the Competition Committee, which should select the members to election of the top management.
Transparency International Ukraine even had to initiate court appeals because of opacity. Then, the court support the authorities for the first time. The process of establishment moved only after intervention of the prime minister and president. In the second case, the decisions are awaited
One more important stage for civil activists was introduction of e-declarations. When high-ranking officials understood that they would necessarily show their fabulous assets to the society, they resisted. Some members of parliament went to the Constitutional Court trying to prove that the law violated their rights. Other MPs tried to amend the law in intention to neutralize and reduce e-declaration.
However, we have managed to introduce e-declaration. And the society saw billions of cash, square meters of real estate and kilos of gold in the officials’ declarations. It became clear why the officials were so afraid.
Thus, in result of hard and persistent cooperation between civil society and authorities for the last three years, they transparently established NABU, Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, NACP, which stated their work. The first wave of e-declaration of officials’ assets took place, implementation of the law on state finance of political parties started. A number of state registers was open (beneficiaries, land lots, rights to movables and immovable etc.). It was formed a unified portal of using public funds by state establishment and enterprises. In addition,
In addition, a big win is introduction of the e-bids system ProZorro at the national level, which has received the international award Procurement Leader Award. The system of e-procurement functions from Feb. 12th, 2015 (21 months). For this time the system was used by 16.62,000 state customers, who announced 324,150 procurements amounting to 177.38 billion UAH. Potential economy is 6,65 billion UAH. Break the ice!
Loopholes for criminals
According to the research of Transparency International Ukraine, for two years only 20 percent of officials convicted for bribing were imprisoned. In 9 percent of the cases, the courts justify bribe takers. The rest received penalties or probation. Courts are reluctant to bring corrupt officials behind bars. It is not surprising because the courts themselves in the country are suggested the most corrupt institutions. In addition, there is no high-ranking official among convicted. The cases against official taking positions higher than mayors are not brought to the court.
Herewith, general statistics of acquittals in Ukraine is less than It means that courts are reluctant to bring corrupt officials behind bars. It is not surprising because the courts themselves in the country are suggested the most corrupt institutions. In addition, there is no high-ranking official among convicted. The cases against official taking positions higher than mayors are not brought to the court.
That is why Ukraine so needed the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and Special Prosecutor’s Office. At the moment, NABU has 245 proceedings (about 40 of them have been forwarded to the court), announced 100 notifications of suspicion, there are 34 indictments. The year of work of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau proved essential to extend its powers.
Namely – wiretaps shall be independent. Now detectives are forced to apply to the Security Service of Ukraine for help. Such procedure carries certain threats for investigation. After attracting another structure to the investigation of a certain criminal case, there is one more link for possible information link. And its turn it can break the case. So, it is advisable, to lay full responsibility to one law enforcement body.
In addition, there are warnings that cases, investigated by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine , as earlier, will “melt” in court. Either crime components or evident cannot be found. That is why Ukraine extremely needs Anti-Corruption Court. According to Chairman of Transparency International Jose Ugaz during his visit to Ukraine: “Anti-corruption court will help to break the chain of impunity for corrupt officials”. On opinion of the executive director of Transparency International Yaroslav
According to Chairman of Transparency International Jose Ugaz during his visit to Ukraine: “Anti-corruption court will help to break the chain of impunity for corrupt officials.”
On opinion of the executive director of Transparency International, Yaroslav Yurchyshyn “it would be great to select human resources on open competition basis for anti-corruption courts. However, it is important that committee members have reputation. And it is desirable that they receive recommendations from the embassies of the countries with developed economics. Because corrupt officials, as a rule, try to withdraw their money to these countries.”
Today only the laws on court reforms containing provision on the Anti-Corruption Court have been approved. Now we need to approve a special law, establish such court and select judges with the help of the international experts. The anti-corruption community will have one more difficult stage, but activists are ready for the struggle.
After publication of e-declarations, the National Agency for Corruption Prevention faced a practical problem. How to process such volume of data and detect offenders who have not mentioned all necessary income or whose actual lifestyle level does not correspond to the declared assets.
The National Agency for Corruption Prevention has no sufficient tools to compare with registers of other authorities. In particular, there is a problem with access to the data of the State Fiscal Service, data containing banking secret and registers of flights. Similarly, the National Agency for Corruption Prevention has no sophisticated tools to verify data on beneficiaries of commercial companies.
Completion of the process on establishing the State Investigation Bureau is an important stage in combating corruption. This body shall take the investigation function from the General Prosecutor’s Office. The State Investigation Bureau will combat corruption at lower (in comparison with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) levels of the state machine. The bureau has not established yet because of not effective work of the committee in charge of this process. Experts see political involvement in this work. We are disturbed by announced initiative of the General Prosecutor’s Office to postpone the transfer of investigation function to the State Investigation Bureau until 2019.
Some 16 percent of Ukrainians are ready to inform on corruption. On the background of 35 percent of citizens who do not believe that something can change, it is not a big number. However, even this small number of brave cannot have sufficient protection from the state. The future situation can be changed by the law on whistleblowers; protection. Adoption of such law is among the international obligations of Ukraine.
In Ukraine there is a saying: it is never long that comes at last.
Fortunately, under pressure of civil society and journalists, the authorities still have not forgotten or neglected promises of the revolution. On the third anniversary of the EuroMaidan Revolution we can say that changes have place and they are significant. We have no way back. If such a number of people wants changes, the situation in the country must change.