Archive for May 15th, 2017

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The Verkhovna Rada returns – and with it threats to reform

May 15, 2017

The Verkhovna Rada returned to legislative duty on 15th May after a month off doing whatever Verkhovna Rada deputies do in their time off – holidays, engaging in conspiracies, intrigues, and grubby deals etc – per public perception.

There are, naturally, a lot of reform orientated legislative Draft Bills pending with such a long reform road ahead.  To be fair many reform orientated Draft Bills will be successful in their passing – particularly those where EU funding is dependent upon a passing – such as Bill 4773.  Yet although successes there will be, and which are of course welcome, what is given with one hand can be easily taken by another.

There is the truly scandalous issue of the Central Election Commission wherein 13 of 15 members saw their legal terms expire 2 years ago that is yet to be addressed.

There will be, undoubtedly attempts to undo/sabotage the Prozorro system that makes procurement transparent, and also deliberate delays in addressing the issues created by amendments to the e-declaration legislation that effected NGOs and that resulted in much overt criticism, and the suspension of funding, by western partners in a significant public display of displeasure.  A cynical reader may ponder any such rectification will occur only after the NGOs first comply and it i thus too late.

However, those issues are a little further into this session – upon the immediate legislative horizon and of concern is Bill 6220.

This Bill with the catchy and creative title “On Amendments to the CPC on entering data in the Unified Register of pre-trial investigations and reasons for closure of criminal proceedings” within its text seeks to prohibit parallel criminal investigations by various law enforcement/institutional investigative bodies.

Prima facie, a reader may consider that to be both economically effective in organisational time and in institutional budget.  Indeed would it not lead to far more horizontal communication among the investigative agencies and a reduction in duplicated hours spent?  Does that hinder or assist in horizontal institutional accountability?

The cynical however will see this for what it almost certainly is – a backdoor neutering of NABU, the  thus far seemingly independent (and therefore “out of control” to those it investigates) agency that is tasked with investigating corruption by the political, judicial and senior civil service class.

It is also an agency that is as transparent as it can reasonably be expected to be with regard to who and what it is investigating and where any investigation is with regard to progress – no doubt in part in an effort to highlight where investigative bottlenecks are as a form of defence.

Quite simply, should an alternative (and far less independent and transparent) investigative agency open an investigation of similar character into somebody/something, should these amendments in Bill 6220 become law,  it will prohibit NABU also investigating the matter.

In short, why would the elite suffer the attention of NABU if an alternative and controlled/tamed agency can open an investigation first to prohibit their unwanted attention?

Something to watch for – and if passed and enter into law, it is something that should rightly result in very loud and open criticism and further suspensions of western funding.

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