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Draft Law 4379 predictably appears to enable PGO Lutsenko

April 12, 2016

It seems very long ago that the blog first stated that Yuri Lutsenko was slated to become Prosecutor General.

Indeed a quick search of the blog archives produces entries such as that of 14th July 2015 which states – “According to the “enlightened” as of last week, the only position with somebody’s name tentatively tagged to it, is that of a new Prosecutor General – and the name tagged to it is Yuri Lutsenko (not that the enlightened are especially enamored with the prospect somewhat understandably).”

It has been a reoccurring, if somewhat ad hoc comment through many entries.

The reason for this persistent commentary being that Yuri Lutsenko clearly believes he is far beyond simply being the faction leader of Block Poroshenko in the Verkhovna Rada – despite being a decidedly average and non-reformist Minister of the Interior under Yulia Tymoshenko that managed to achieve nothing except maintain the then existing status quo.

lutsenko

Mr Lutsenko indeed has some political strengths, though he seemingly practices them best behind the curtain in the cloak of Grey Cardinal/High Chamberlain (where he is undoubtedly effective) rather than when holding office before the curtain if his achievements (or distinct lack of them) as Minister of the Interior between 2007 and 2010 are any indication.

(Would any society want a potential Prosecutor General known best for his undoubted ability behind the curtain when striking grubby, secretive, but effective little political deals?)

Yesterday’s entry once again raised the issue – As previously stated in historical entries, the most obvious candidates are Zhebrivskyi, Lutsenko, Sevost’yanov, Gorbatyuka, Sevruk and Stolyarchuk.  Two of these candidates would be no different to the out-going Viktor Shokin as far as obstructing reforms is concerned.  Mr Zhebrivskyi would be very difficult to replace in his role in Dontesk, and Mr Lutsenko has no law degree as required to hold the position (though laws can be changed when politically expedient).”

In sum, considering the numerous references to Yuir Lutsenko becoming Prosecutor General made in this blog for 12 months or more, a reader may infer that Mr Lutsenko has been persistently pushing for the role for a very long time – despite the current legislation regarding qualifications barring him.  A reader would be right in drawing such conclusions.

Lo, it has come to pass that on 12th April, draft law 4379 has been submitted to the Verkhovna Rada by Block Poroshenko MP Stepan Kubiv (an outside/dark horse for PM if Mr Groisman continues to change his mind) – the draft law imaginatively entitled “On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning the activities of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the State Bureau of Investigation.”

A decidedly ugly title, but clear in its intent.  The draft law seeks to change the existing legislation to clear a path to the Prosecutor General’s chair for Yuri Lutsenko.  That is its sole purpose.

Specifically the draft law proposes significant changes to Articles 27 and 40 of the law “Prosecutor’s Office”.

Article 27 currently states – “the Prosecutor General of Ukraine must be a citizen of Ukraine, who has work experience as a prosecutor for not less than 5 years.” – which clearly rules out Yuri Lutsenko who has never worked within the PGO.

The amendments to the law would make it read thus – “the Attorney General of Ukraine must be a citizen of Ukraine who has work experience in the field of law for at least 5 years“.

Thus no longer prior experience within the PGO, but also an extremely elastic text with regard to “experience in the field of law for 5 years“.

Clearly Mr Lutsenko’s 3(ish) years as Minister of the Interior would infer “experience in the field of law“, but they do not equate to 5 years in post – however “experience in the field of law” is an extremely broad and woolly term.  It can undoubtedly be stretched, as political expediency suggests it will be, to mean any Verkhovna Rada parliamentarian that has held a mandate for 5 years or more – for ever parliamentarian has experience in the field of law being the nation’s legislators.

Ergo any current or former Verkhovna Rada parliamentarian that has served 5 years or more become eligible when stretching such an elastic text in the proposed amendment.

A little too broad to prevent other parliamentarians putting themselves forward and scuppering Mr Lutsenko’s long yearned for role?

Onward to Article 40 that currently stipulates a legal degree – “higher legal education and work experience in the field of law for at least 10 years”.  Mr Lutsenko holds no qualifications in law.

The proposed amendments to the law would result in the following text – “has a university degree and work experience in the field of law or experience in legislative and law enforcement agencies of at least 5 years.

A far more Yuri Lutsenko favouring text – “experience in the field of law or in legislative and law enforcement agencies of at least 5 years.”  Thus a combination of legislative and law enforcement agency experience – not either/or – instead of a law degree.

There are far fewer current (and historical) parliamentarians that have a combination of legislative and law enforcement agency experience in lieu of a law degree – and none who would qualify will stand against Yuri Lutsenko for the Prosecutor General’s role when this legislative amendment is clearly written for his sole benefit, and thus the political expediency of allowing President Poroshenko to place his chosen man in his chosen man’s long coveted role.

Needless to say that this legislative amendment should come as no surprise to regular readers the blog having repeatedly flagged Lutsenko’s ambition for the role.  The only other possible option would have been to appoint him Acting Prosecutor General and then staged repeated but deliberately ill-fated attempts to appoint somebody else over the coming years, leaving Mr Lutsenko permanently “Acting”.

With regards to the amendments themselves, despite the clear and entirely unethical intent for which they were written (little good comes from legislative changes to suit the desires and ambitions of one individual), it is certainly no bad thing to remove the requirement of any potential Prosecutor General from having served years within the corrupt cesspit of the PGO institution.  Contemporary Ukrainian history displays that nothing good has come of such inbreeding, and thus that DNA code has to be broken – which these amendments clearly allow for.

However, the perception of changing the law to allow President Poroshenko to nominate one of his Grey Cardinals/High Chamberlains, Yuri Lutsenko, to his long coveted role, is almost guaranteed to overshadow the legal legacy these amendments provides for those that follow in election cycles yet to come.

Indeed the perception will be, probably rightly to one degree or another, that after placing Mr Groisman as Prime Minister, increasing the number of Cabinet Ministers from the presidential party, forming a less inclusive but nonetheless (slim) majority coalition, and changing the law to place a Poroshenko Grey Cardinal/High Chamberlain at the top of the PGO (albeit Lutsenko has never served within the PGO) is nothing more than the consolidation of power akin to the ill-fated Viktor Yanukovych.

Once this perceived “power grab” is completed however, all failures will be squarely laid at the Presidential door.  Of wriggle room to avoid responsibility there will be almost none.  Therefore to avoid annihilation at the polling booths at any forthcoming/early elections, or serious and perhaps grievous civil unrest, there appears to be only one way forward – sufficient reform at sufficient speed to placate society and “external supporters”.

With a bloody Rubicon forever crossed, a repeat performance of the ill-fated Viktor Yanukovych otherwise awaits President Poroshenko.

Whether the President has the wisdom to use this perceived “power grab” to drive the nation forwards in the belief of being freed from coalition squabbling, or whether with this perceived “power grab” he has painted himself into a political corner from which societal expectations cannot be delivered and blame is unavoidable, remains to be seen.

Whatever the case, with the submission of draft law 4379, it seems quite clear that barring a serious fumble within the Verkhovna Rada turnout upon 4379 voting day, Yuri Lutsenko looks set to be the next Prosecutor General.

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