Despite the Rada, almost 4 months ago, voting to lift MPs and judges immunity by a constitutional majority, that immunity (and impunity) currently remains in force. As such, should the Prosecutor General want to turn the wheels of the justice system in a meaningful way against any MP or Judge, the Rada must first vote to remove any individual’s immunity.
Thus far a few requests have been made and granted – though for the most part not against any “big names” or persons of notable influence past or present.
However, the Prosecutor General has now requested the Rada revoke the immunity of Sergei Klyuev, a man who is both a “big name” and person of notable influence in the recent past (and to a lesser degree today).
Indeed to get a brief outline of Mr Klyuev’s formerly extensive influence, and thus current importance relating to alleged nefarious dealings, then click here for the tip of the iceberg.
Needless to say, prima facie based upon the contents of the above link (and numerous others links similar to it) detailing the supposed dastardly activities of Mr Klyuev, the Prosecutor General has reasonable grounds to want to bring matters to court. Undoubtedly there will be evidence that is not in the public domain too.
Thus on Tuesday 2 June at 0900 hours, there is supposed to be a Rada vote taking place whereupon the issue of Sergei Klyuev’s immunity will be addressed.
However, the Rada committee that sits, discusses and makes subsequent recommendations upon such matters, are not in agreement as to recommending the removal of his immunity. Thus whether there will be a vote, and what recommendations will be made and followed (or not), remains entirely open to question.
The question before the Rada committee, and indeed the Rada if an when a vote to strip immunity comes, is not one of presumed guilt or innocence – or at least it shouldn’t be, and neither should any such committee feel that it sits in judgement. Rada MPs are not learned judges sitting upon the bench to decide guilt or innocence. It is not form them to interpret evidence and arrive at verdicts. If the bar to the stripping of immunity was so high that it inferred the Rada committee, and the Rada, believed an MP was guilty, then any subsequent court case would be prejudiced by its actions. In fact many Rada MPs aren’t capable of crafting decent legislation from which the judiciary to subsequently deliberate and dispense verdicts, let alone sit in judgement.
At the stage of requesting the removal of immunity from either Judge or MP, neither is there a case for the Rada committee, or the Rada, to closely scrutinise how evidence was gathered, any chain of evidence or breaks therein. That too falls to the courts, prosecution and defence to argue about.
The question to hand for the Rada committee, and the Rada, whilst immunity for any individual remains, should be one relating to the gravity of the alleged offences, thus determining whether any individual should have their immunity removed in order to allow a proper investigation and subsequent court case.
In the case of Sergei Klyuev, prima facie, it would appear to be very much in the public interest to allow the Prosecutor General’s application and put numerous matters before the courts where his guilt or innocence can be duly considered and verdicts delivered.
What is therefore required in this particular instance is nothing more than the political will to put the first “big name” serving MP into the criminal proceedings machinery.
Currently it is very much unclear whether that political will exists. Why? Because who would be next? Even bigger names? Liovochkin for example? Lesser names by the score? But did not the MPs vote overwhelming to remove this very immunity (even though it has not been removed) only 4 months ago?
If Sergei Klyuev’s immunity is not removed considering the seriousness of the alleged crimes due to the lack of political will, then surely there is also cause to doubt that the will to complete the process to remove Rada and judicial immunity en masse remains.
It will be both interesting to see, firstly whether the Tuesday vote will go ahead, secondly what the recommendations of the committee are, and lastly whether the Rada will actually show the political will to do what is clearly in the public interest – if not in the interests of some of its own members.
Thereafter it is a matter for the courts.