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A black PR storm awaits NABU?

August 11, 2016

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) hardly seems to be out of the headlines recently – either fighting for its independence, or for doing its job and watching the rest of the system fail it as suspects flee, and most recently for catching a judge in a $150,000 bribe yet being unable to arrest him due to judicial immunity – among many other cases.

Not withstanding internal structural changes within the PGO and numerous pending (as well as future) national legislative timetables, currently that the system and the entrenched vested interests remain stacked against NABU is without question.

Nevertheless, that it is so frequently in the headlines is no bad thing.  That it is seen to be doing its job, and that it is regularly publicly communicating the obstructions within the system preventing successful outcomes matters.

Artem Sitnic

Artem Sitnic

It is therefore worthy of note that Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, Artem Sitnic, predicts a robust black PR campaign aimed at discrediting NABU and other anti-corruption agencies, including the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor – “According to the information I have, somewhere around the end of September – beginning of October will be held a PR campaign to discredit our anti-corruption bodies.”

So who will launch this campaign and why?

Clearly, despite denials, there is friction between Prosecutor General Lutsenko and the anti-corruption agencies stoic in the defence of their independence within his empire.  Yuri Lutsenko is political “Grey Cardinal” and “doer of grubby deals” historically.  That he (currently) cannot micromanage and influence the necessarily independent anti-corruption PGO bodies will irk him immensely.

Thus an internal turf war designed to reduce that amount of independence – despite statute clearly ring fencing said independence?  Perhaps.

Will the black PR be as a consequence of the Verkhovna Rada returning from holidays with certain parties attempting to force early elections, dragging the lack of convictions from NABU investigations into the political fray?  (Despite convictions clearly not being the responsibility of prosecutors, but of courts and the judiciary.)

With judicial immunity set to end upon 30th September when constitutional changes enter into effect thus empowering NABU to arrest the judiciary without jumping through unnecessary hoops, will it be outspoken judges – or those behind the corrupt outspoken judges – that will lead this PR onslaught?  That would certainly fit the anticipated time frame given by Mr Sitnic snuggly.

Does that time frame adequately fit with sufficient investigative time for some early results from the unusually pointed and unambiguous lexicon employed by President Poroshenko when commenting upon the 15th August e-declarations entering into force?

Clearly Mr Sitnic received his information from somewhere regarding a forthcoming black PR campaign against the anti-corruption bodies, and certainly NABU has far fewer friends than it has enemies within the old establishment figures – be they before or behind the curtain, yet it remains unclear as to who the conductor is behind this (predictably) orchestrated move.   Undoubtedly he knows, even if he is not naming names – yet.  Indeed this may be a public, yet diplomatic, shot across their bows before plans are set in motion.

This is something to keep a watchful eye upon – for the black PR messenger(s) will ultimately identify the orchestrator(s).  Undoubtedly “western supporters” will be watching keenly, as patience is running rather thin.

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