NABU – 2017 a make or perhaps break year?

March 16, 2017

A few weeks ago an entry appeared regarding the surprise (including to many within the Verkhovna Rada) physical appearance in the chamber of Nigel Brown as a candidate for external and independent assessor/auditor of NABU .

A candidate suddenly put forward by Block Poroshenko and the People’s Front on the day that the candidacy of  Robert Storch, a former Deputy Inspector General of the US Department of Justice was due to be voted upon.

The entry concluded with an old and all too familiar question – “Nevertheless, readers are left with an all too familiar question – Who benefits from a last minute further delay in the Verkhovna Rada fulfilling its oblations surrounding NABU?”

Things have now progressed in the usual discombobulated, opaque, and generally disorderly way that a reader would expect from such a “surprise” – obviously orchestrated by Block Poroshenko and the People’s Front – that aims to work in somebody’s favour.

Suddenly parliamentary support for Robert Storch has disintegrated and political support for Mr Brown has grown – albeit not quite yet to the point of the necessary 226 votes behind his candidacy.  A reader can however, feel fairly certain that Mr Brown will get over the finishing line by fair means or foul (unless there is significant and direct external pressure put upon the Presidential Administration to rethink matters).

(Nobody should be surprised that if in the fullness of time it becomes known that Mr Brown has had dealings with somebody powerful in Ukraine – he certainly wasn’t simply plucked from obscurity via a LinkedIn search.)

All sorts of shenanigans occurred within the Verkhovna Rada Committee on 16th March to enable Mr Brown’s (almost certain) appointment.  Somebody is seemingly trying to get him appointed as soon as is possible and the ends are seemingly worthy of ill-considered means.  Committee protocols and rules appear to have simply been savaged to this end.

Court appeals and internal Verkhovna Rada procedural appeals will almost certainly follow.

The question is whether this will deliberately further delay the necessary appointment of an individual to the vacant role, or whether the appointment will occur regardless  -leaving a lasting shadow over the appointment – and by extension for far too many, upon Mr Brown.

Why Mr Brown and not Mr Storch?

Is Mr Brown likely to be far more critical of NABU Chief Artem Sytnyk, paving the way for his desired toppling?

A reader should be quite clear that there is a majority in the Ukrainian political and institutional elite that would be more than happy to see Mr Sytnyk removed and a more controllable candidate replace him.  After all, NABU was not a domestic idea whereby the Ukrainian elite decided they wanted an independent body specifically designed to investigate themselves.

To be entirely blunt, it was a body created because the EU, IMF, USA and other donors insisted upon it if further funding was to come.  Thus every effort is made to frustrate and neuter a most unwelcome entity where ever and whenever possible.

It also became apparent on 16th March that NABU had busted several SBU operatives in a $50,000 bribe incident, rather than the SBU internal organs that have quietly been weeding out their own rogue elements without much fanfare or publicity.

The interesting question would be if that bust relied on SIGINT/wiretapping – or not – for the Verkhovna Rada in a continuing effort to frustrate and neuter NABU, refuses to grant it wiretapping ability thus making it (wrongly) reliant upon the SBU for such operational intelligence.  In  short collaboration between the two entities, or grounds for an institutional war?

Needless to say key capitals such as Washington, Berlin and London are closely watching this unnecessarily ugly theatre play out.  All will have been quietly content to see NABU arrest (and with society’s assistance detain) Roman Nasirov some weeks ago (although don’t hold your breath for a conviction, there is a long way to go yet).

Clearly there are increasing efforts to weaken and subdue NABU.  Do moves in that direction require finding a foreign, independent, officially appointed voice that may raise sufficient criticism enabling an attempt to topple Artem Sytnyk – despite the broad support from international donors he currently has?

Will the Ukrainian elite manage to neuter, and thus effectively break NABU in 2017?

Undoubtedly the foreign donors that forced NABU upon a very unwilling Ukrainian elite are now going to have to defend their time, effort, and investment in this institution if it is to remain even remotely effective in 2017 and beyond.


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