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Waiting for the domestic rhetoric to end

December 21, 2014

Having recently, once again, drawn attention to the issue/nature of sanctions verses arbitrary punishment, an entry that concluded with; “If Ukraine cannot or will not make a case against them, is it any surprise that the EU may well remove certain Ukrainian citizens from the EU sanctions list? That does not necessarily excuse the EU and its Member States from failing to carry out money laundering investigations into these individuals, with or without domestic cases against them in Ukraine, but there is likely to be far less political will, or law enforcement priority given any such investigations if Ukraine itself fails to act.“, it is perhaps time to look at the rule of law situation domestically.

The “these individuals” specifically referred to in that entry related to this tweet:

Although it is yet to be confirmed, it appears we can also add a few more names to that list, as it is rumoured within reliable sources that Ukraine either has, or is about to, notify the EU it will not be prosecuting the brothers Kluyev or Portnov either.

We now return to the previous entry and begin to ask the same questions – once again; “Why has the Ukrainian Prosecutor Generals office failed thus far to make any case? A lack of will? A lack of evidence? Incompetence? Has it been bought off? Has it been warned off? Being as kind as possible to the 3 individuals named in the above tweet, they are simply not smart enough to have made tens/hundreds of millions of US$ without the help of nefarious dealings – their State salaries naturally are nowhere near sufficient to account for their wealth.”

Having been as kind as possible regarding the intelligence lacking to acquire incredible wealth legitimately of those named, it therefore follows that there will also be the intelligence lacking to completely remove all the evidence of nefarious shenanigans too.  And indeed not all evidence that has been gathered, was gathered in, or subsequently remained in Ukraine:

Whilst these particular tweet relates to Kluyev, undoubtedly they could also relate to evidence gathered for others just as easily.

Without casting any doubt upon the integrity of feofan/@madocw76, who is most certainly beyond reproach, it takes us to the very dangerous issue of striking grubby little deals when evidence is no longer solely in the custody of the PGO, but also held by international actors, institutions, corporations etc too.  Hundreds, if not thousands of people in numerous countries, institutions and corporations having access to rather damning evidence of nefarious deeds, copies of which, hopefully, the PGO has bothered to collate.

Leaks, intentional or accidental via carelessness can and do occur – and never without repercussions both for those involved in the grubby little deals to drop cases, but also for those in power at the time of the leak if time has moved on.

Let’s be blunt.  The EU put many of the Yanukovych clique on the sanctions list on 6th March 2014.  As we enter 2015, the Ukrainian PGO has thus far offered no evidence against a large proportion of that number.  Thus those people are very unlikely to have the sanctions to which they are currently subjected, extended.

There is then the on-going sagas involving the smaller fish that ultimately should be fried but rarely, if ever, make the headlines.  Former Berkut Commander Sadovnik simply escapes from house arrest.  A judge removing the arrest of both person and assets in the case of Arbuzov without explanation.  Director General of Ukrspirt, Mr Labutin, charged with embezzlement of public funds, mysteriously disappearing from hospital, “kidnapped” by masked men.  All, now location unknown.  The list goes on and on and on.

Yet, the case against two guards from the facility at which Yulia Tymoshenko was held, and where she allegedly was beaten by them, continues – despite the ECfHR deciding not to proceed with that particular allegation due to Ms Tymoshenko refusing to undergo medical examination.  If the evidence was insufficient for the ECfHR to proceed the first time around, should these guards be found guilty, it is an absolute certainty they will submit appeals to the very same ECfHR that has already dismissed the case once.  Any conviction therefore almost guaranteed to be found unsafe and compensation from Ukraine almost certainly to be awarded.  Furthermore, the then director of the facility has seemingly been allowed to retire – no further action.

But it is not just the PGO inaction or bizarre action that is to failing the rule of law.

The truly awfully drafted “Lustration Law” will no doubt see many of those “lustrated” subsequently “un-lustrated” over the next year too – either domestically via Constitutional Court challenges or via the ECfHR.  That this occurs is the clear responsibility of the political class, for it is they that are the legislature that draft and pass such obviously flawed laws.

In short, if under the authoritarian regime of former President Yanukovych, Ukraine was subject to rule by law, then currently, it seems to be subject to, if not anarchy, certainly a serious lacking of the word “rule” within the term rule of law.

Some of a conspiratorial mindset will purport that all the major (and many middle ranking) allegedly guilty parties will either strike grubby little deals to save themselves, be “allowed” to escape, or have already been allowed to do so.

Others may wonder whether it would be more likely that, aside from the very top of the Yanukovych clique and /or those that committed truly heinous crimes, simply drawing a line under past nefarious deeds prior to “date X” would remove the need for grubby deals.  Having offered more amnesties this year than can be counted regarding events in the east – why not offer a national amnesty to all Ukrainian citizens regarding nefarious and corrupt acts commissioned prior to “date X” under the value of “$Y”- but zero tolerance thereafter?  A watershed moment.  A national social crossing of the Rubicon.

What is far more likely to continue is an unequal and chaotic mess, whilst lofty words and rhetoric continue without any effective impact – something that seems highly unlikely to be tolerated by society or the nations the Ukrainian leadership are expecting/hoping will continue to keep afloat its finances.

As 2015 approaches, there is an absolute requirement that a great many small but tangible steps are not only taken, but implemented effectively once the year turns.  Events in the east and dire economics do not excuse the lack of reform expected – and nor should they.

Easter arrives on 12th April 2015 in Ukraine.  By that time, reform rhetoric needs to be replaced by effective reform implementation if the current RADA and government expect to remain for the rest of the year – and as almost all Ukrainian ills flow from (the lack of) rule of law in one manifestation or another, that is where much political energy simply has to be targeted with immediate effect.

Confidence in that occurring?

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