Borovik resigns as Odessa Deputy Governor – as required by law

May 5, 2016

The 1st May saw the new statute on the Ukrainian civil service come to life.

It is a law that although not perfect is a significant step in the right direction and which has thus far managed to avoid “tinkering” via legislative amendment to make it impotent.

It now remains to be seen if it will be effectively implemented.

As a result of the law coming into force, Sasha Borovik who holds German and Ukrainian citizenship, could apparently no longer lawfully hold the office of Odessa Deputy Governor, for the law seemingly provides that those solely possessing Ukrainian citizenship may hold civil service positions if the cited reasons for his resignation be correct.


Mr Borovik thus resigned as the seemingly law required – explaining that the new law was the reason for doing so.  Quite rightly too, on both counts if correct.

It would be self-defeating to be perceived to champion reform and the rule of law yet deliberately break it once the civil service law came into force.  Credibility would take an unnecessary blow – particularly when still holding an elected seat (thus not a civil service appointment) in the City Council.

Whether or not Maria Gaidar will similarly resign as Deputy Governor – or not – may indicate whether she still retains Russian citizenship whilst also holding that of Ukrainian.  She too however, even if resigning as Deputy Governor, would continue within the Oblast Administration having been voted into the role no differently that Mr Borovik to City Hall.

There are others within the Governor’s team that would seemingly face the same dilemma that hold (senior regional) civil service posts.

Whatever the case, Mr Borovik is seemingly adhering to the rule of law, and the Oblast Administration has duly accepted his resignation as Deputy Governor.  Mr Borovik will continue to advise the Odessa Governor in a “freelance” role over investment policy as well as continue to be a thorn in the side of vested interests in City Hall.

There is of course the constitutional issue of dual nationality:

Constitution of Ukraine Article 4. There is unique citizenship in Ukraine. The grounds of acquisition and stopping of citizenship of Ukraine are determined by a law.

That arguably prevents dual citizenship, however it could be argued that it is the only citizenship recognised in Ukraine by those holding more than one citizenship – “If a citizen of Ukraine acquires citizenship (nationality) of another state or states, in legal relations with Ukraine, the person is recognized as a citizen of Ukraine only. If a foreigner acquires the citizenship of Ukraine, then in legal relations with Ukraine, the person is recognized as a citizen of Ukraine only”.  Article 2 Law on Citizenship of Ukraine

That may be read in such a way that in any legal interaction with the Ukrainian State, only Ukrainian citizenship is recognised by those holding more than one – and perhaps therefore understood to comply with Article 4 of the Constitution in so much as Ukrainian is a “unique citizenship“.

Something for the legal profession to deliberate over, and no doubt a deliberately created grey legal issue by those with influence that indeed hold dual nationality when the law was written.

There certainly appears to be no current statute that provides for stripping Ukrainian citizenship for any reason, neither does it currently appear to be a criminal offence if discovered holding two or more nationalities.  What effectively can therefore be done?

In Odessa alone there are of thousands of Ukrainian citizens that also hold citizenship for Bulgaria, or Romania, or Hungary, or Israel, or Greece, or Russia, or Cyprus, or the UK, or the USA or Canada – and clearly Germany too, as in the case of Mr Borovik.  This blog knows personally Ukrainians that hold each of the aforementioned passports as well as that of Ukraine.

Should Odessa City Hall be subjected to a purge of those People’s Deputies holding more than a Ukrainian international passport (ie. citizenship), anywhere between one or two dozen would be ousted.  Perhaps fortunately for these People’s Deputies, such a purge seems unlikely – there is an unmistakable lack of will to pursue such matters where Mayor Trukhanov is under the microscope for allegedly holding a Russian passport.

Indeed Mr Borovik would survive any such purge, as having been granted Ukrainian citizenship in 2015, he legally has 2 years in which to surrender his German citizenship and can therefore serve as a People’s Deputy quite legally during that time.  It is the text of the new law on Civil Service that seemingly contains reasons for his exit from a civil service position.

It is doubtful all those elected within the Oblast Administration would survive such a purge either.

A reader may suppose that some within the Verkhovna Rada would not be especially keen too.

Indeed both Ms Gaidar and Mr Borovik ran on the President’s party ticket for their elected offices.  It therefore seems unlikely raising a scandal would be deemed appropriate within the Presidential Administration.  Those appointed to civil service positions without a democratic mandate to fall back upon however, may face an entirely different outcome (Messrs Zhmak, Lortkipanidze, maybe Misha himself.  What future prospects for Sakvarelidze?).

The reasoning behind the civil service being legislatively unambiguous about solitary Ukrainian citizenship is presumably part of a wider effort to cleanse, or provide an avenue for simple dismissal/cleansing, relating to external, hostile infiltration of the policy implementation nervous system of the nation.

If that be the case, then fair enough.  The law is meant to be blind and its sword is double-edged.  Where fall Mr Borovik voluntarily today (and perhaps others in due course),  may fall those of hostile intent involuntarily tomorrow.  There remains the roles of “freelance adviser” or “advisory panel member” for those that can contribute positively.  It is not necessarily about the position officially held, but about the “shadow rank” and associated influence upon policy that goes with it.

Nevertheless, a reader may ponder whether a reformed Ukrainian civil service entirely staffed by “Ukraine only” citizenship holders will be (hopefully) diligently and effectively implementing national, regional or local policy created by politicians holding elected office that clearly aren’t as limited in the passports and citizenship they hold.

Perhaps yet worse, a “Ukraine national only” civil service implementing State policy  by those behind the curtain that hold multiple nationalities and who control entire political parties and national parliamentarians across all party lines.

Whatever, in this case, Mr Borovik has seemingly done the right thing in resigning, and the rule of law insofar as the newly effective Civil Service Law has been upheld entirely voluntarily in his case.  It is somewhat doubtful however, that the implementation of this law will be accomplished nationally with such integrity.


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