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And the next Prosecutor General is……not looking promising

February 25, 2016

Upon the cusp of August/September 2015 when it became abundantly clear to all that Prosecutor General Shokin simply had to go, this blog opined that Yuri Lutsenko would push for the role.  The reasons put forward were that he considers himself worthy of far greater roles than that of heading President Poroshenko’s Solidarity Party Verkhovna Rada faction, and that his frustration in that role was evident.  He wanted, and expects, bigger and better roles.

And so it comes to pass that the whispers behind the political curtain suggest but two runners and riders for the role of Prosecutor General now that Mr Shokin has submitted his long overdue resignation.

Those two individuals being Pavlo Zhebrivskyi the current Governor of Donetsk, formerly of the PGOs office (January – June 2015) and before that (Our Ukraine) parliamentarian for many years, and unsurprisingly, Yuri Lutsenko, Yulia Tymoshenko’s very average former Interior Minister and who is now among the half dozen Poroshenko Grey Cardinals/High Chamberlains that is government within/behind the government.

Pavlo Zhebrivskyi

Pavlo Zhebrivskyi

When tipping Mr Lutsenko to be the next Prosecutor General of Ukraine as the 2015 Summer gave way to Autumn, this blog opined that he would be yet another (4th) poor Poroshenko choice for the role.

He is clearly of the “old political elite” no differently than Yulia Tymoshenko and Arseny Yatseniuk and his appointment to the role would be perceived as such.  Thus the appointment of another well known “old guard” figure to a position of significance would not sit well with a considerable proportion of the constituency even before he had a chance to do anything.  His tenure as Interior Minister was hardly replete with successes against corruption or organised crime either, which will not instill confidence.

More to the point however, Mr Lutsenko has the qualities that suit the role of Grey Cardinal/High Chamberlain striking grubby little (and big) deals behind the curtain, but those qualities are inherently conflicting for a role that requires robust personal morality and integrity, and leadership that inspires an institutional ethic that abhors grubby little deals behind the curtain.

Just as Yulia Tymoshenko may change her hairstyle but not her spots, (and she is currently unsuccessfully romancing Samopomich and Governor Saakashvili in preparation for any (likely) early elections and resulting coalitions), the Ukrainian (and international) constituency would not be easily or quickly convinced by the appointment of a Prosecutor General Lutsenko.

Mr Zhebrivswkyi carries far less public baggage and has been involved in far less questionable/dubious shuffling behind the curtain than Yuri Lutsenko, and thus of the two heavily rumoured candidates he is likely to have far fewer favours owing and far less compromising incidents to rear an ill-timed head if appointed.

Yet there is a very simple and blunt question to ask.

Having spent months putting senior prosecutors through very public scrutiny prior to anti-corruption appointments, with several outstanding candidates appearing, why is it that none of those individuals are (currently) being considered for the role of Prosecutor General?  Why are only long-in-the-tooth politicians with varying amounts of nefarious baggage being touted?

The question is somewhat rhetorical, for it is clear that President Porosehnko is simply either not prepared, or not brave enough, to give up political control over the Prosecutor General (and by extension the Prosecutor General’s Office), preferring to continuously appointment those personally loyal to him (rather than loyal to the nation first and foremost).

During the next few fairly quiet weeks as “coalition consultations” occur (don’t be too surprised by a Solidarity/People’s Front/Radical Party majority coalition outcome – nor the continued rejection of Tymnoshenko overtures by both Samopomich and Governor Saakashvili), a reader may ponder whether any other runners and riders will enter the Prosecutor General frame that would actually unambiguously project the perception of a morally upright, independent, robust servant of the nation (over vested interests or personal loyalties) in which the constituency (and external supporters) will believe.  Such people do exist and have successfully been through the rigours of public scrutiny and assessment very recently after all.  In their (current) absence from the running list, then Mr Zhebriviskyi appears to be the least worst option.

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