Archive for October, 2017

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Supreme Court warns Odessa Police over interference with judiciary

October 31, 2017

While the eyes of those that follow security, policing, and the rule of law more generally in Ukraine may be concentrating upon the (eventually successful) assassination of Amin Okuyeva, and wounding of her husband Adam Osmayev on the evening of 30th October, or the search of Alexander Avakov’s home (son of Interior Minister Arsen Avaokov) for his involvement in the supply of backpacks to the National Guard during 2015 at vastly inflated prices, it is the friction between the Supreme Court and the police of Odessa that catches the eye.

Prima facie, with the rank and file of the National Police having been reformed, acting far more professionally, and generally have far greater public trust vis a vis a judiciary that is systemically corrupt, a reader may well consider the Supreme Court’s warning to the police of Odessa as a case of the judiciary interfering in policing, rather the the police interfering with the judiciary as the Supreme Court has ruled.

That said, whilst the rank and file of the Odessa police is far better than ever before, the police leadership seems to be becoming evermore politically accommodating to local influences.  It is perhaps time for Interior Minister Avakov to consider rotating the regional policing leadership lest they become “too comfortable” within the local environment they serve.

The next high profile case to test the corrupt judiciary of Odessa is on 6th November.

The Supreme Court warning to the police of Odessa relates to the (chronically corrupt) Economic Court of Odessa.

It appears that the police in Odessa have repeatedly asked the Economic Court of Odessa for a declaration on the income of judges, documents on the basis of which bonuses, payroll and material assistance were implemented; time sheets; bonus provision; a list of court employees; a list of firms, organizations, individuals and entrepreneurs, etc., with whom contracts were concluded on the performance of work, the provision of services, and the purchase of goods, etc.

Further the police have raised questions over the appointment of several judges and their consideration of certain cases.

Indeed the police of Odessa informed those of the Economic Court that “in case of failure to provide the requested information this fact will be regarded as malicious disobedience to the lawful demand of a policeman and the issue of bringing the guilty person to administrative liability stipulated by Article 185 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Violations.”

Naturally corrupt judiciary that work from the Economic Court of Odessa have not only refused the repeated requests of the police of Odessa, but complained to the Supreme Court of interference with, and pressure upon the judiciary.

Clearly the police of Odessa are attempting to gather operational intelligence and criminal evidence relating to the connection to, of, and within, the Economic Court of Odessa and those that work within.  A picture of possible corruption schemes and individual conflicts of interest would soon become apparent with such information – not only within the internal workings of the court, but also with any court cases that will be heard.

The Supreme Court fully recognises this to be the mens rea behind the police request – but has warned the police of Odessa off from attempting to gather this information.

The Supreme Court has stated that this police inquiry “testifies to the conduct of a court audit, which is not stipulated by the current legislation.  Powers to provide an assessment of the legality of the actions and decisions of the courts are vested only in the highest judicial instances.”

As such the Supreme Court has put an end to the efforts of the police in Odessa to overtly map out nefarious machinery within the Odessa Economic Court calling the inquiry a “court audit” for which the police have no legal power.  Too broad are the requests for information – and perhaps that is fair comment.

However, despite the police interest and the Supreme Court ruling bringing the Economic Court of Odessa to the attention of the highest levels of the Ukrainian judiciary, it seems unlikely that those high chamberlains will initiate an audit upon the Economic Court of Odessa themselves.

Thus the police of Odessa have a choice to either go about collecting, collating and analysing this information by other means, or to quote former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin “We wanted to do it better, but it turned out as always.” is how this will be left.

A reader is still left to ponder however, whether a “court audit” per the Supreme Court interpretation of the Odessa police request is “interference” in the court, or indeed putting “undue pressure on the judiciary” as claimed by the Economic Court of Odessa?  Audits may be stressful for bookkeepers, accountants and administrative managers whomever the auditor may be, but does it really interfere with the functioning of the court or put undue pressure on a judge?

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Supreme Court warns Odessa Police over interference with judiciary

October 31, 2017

While the eyes of those that follow security, policing, and the rule of law more generally in Ukraine may be concentrating upon the (eventually successful) assassination of Amin Okuyeva, and wounding of her husband Adam Osmayev on the evening of 30th October, or the search of Alexander Avakov’s home (son of Interior Minister Arsen Avaokov) for his involvement in the supply of backpacks to the National Guard during 2015 at vastly inflated prices, it is the friction between the Supreme Court and the police of Odessa that catches the eye.

Prima facie, with the rank and file of the National Police having been reformed, acting far more professionally, and generally have far greater public trust vis a vis a judiciary that is systemically corrupt, a reader may well consider the Supreme Court’s warning to the police of Odessa as a case of the judiciary interfering in policing, rather the the police interfering with the judiciary as the Supreme Court has ruled.

That said, whilst the rank and file of the Odessa police is far better than ever before, the police leadership seems to be becoming evermore politically accommodating to local influences.  It is perhaps time for Interior Minister Avakov to consider rotating the regional policing leadership lest they become “too comfortable” within the local environment they serve.

The next high profile case to test the corrupt judiciary of Odessa is on 6th November.

The Supreme Court warning to the police of Odessa relates to the (chronically corrupt) Economic Court of Odessa.

It appears that the police in Odessa have repeatedly asked the Economic Court of Odessa for a declaration on the income of judges, documents on the basis of which bonuses, payroll and material assistance were implemented; time sheets; bonus provision; a list of court employees; a list of firms, organizations, individuals and entrepreneurs, etc., with whom contracts were concluded on the performance of work, the provision of services, and the purchase of goods, etc.

Further the police have raised questions over the appointment of several judges and their consideration of certain cases.

Indeed the police of Odessa informed those of the Economic Court that “in case of failure to provide the requested information this fact will be regarded as malicious disobedience to the lawful demand of a policeman and the issue of bringing the guilty person to administrative liability stipulated by Article 185 of the Code of Ukraine on Administrative Violations.”

Naturally corrupt judiciary that work from the Economic Court of Odessa have not only refused the repeated requests of the police of Odessa, but complained to the Supreme Court of interference with, and pressure upon the judiciary.

Clearly the police of Odessa are attempting to gather operational intelligence and criminal evidence relating to the connection to, of, and within, the Economic Court of Odessa and those that work within.  A picture of possible corruption schemes and individual conflicts of interest would soon become apparent with such information – not only within the internal workings of the court, but also with any court cases that will be heard.

The Supreme Court fully recognises this to be the mens rea behind the police request – but has warned the police of Odessa off from attempting to gather this information.

The Supreme Court has stated that this police inquiry “testifies to the conduct of a court audit, which is not stipulated by the current legislation.  Powers to provide an assessment of the legality of the actions and decisions of the courts are vested only in the highest judicial instances.”

As such the Supreme Court has put an end to the efforts of the police in Odessa to overtly map out nefarious machinery within the Odessa Economic Court calling the inquiry a “court audit” for which the police have no legal power.  Too broad are the requests for information – and perhaps that is fair comment.

However, despite the police interest and the Supreme Court ruling bringing the Economic Court of Odessa to the attention of the highest levels of the Ukrainian judiciary, it seems unlikely that those high chamberlains will initiate an audit upon the Economic Court of Odessa themselves.

Thus the police of Odessa have a choice to either go about collecting, collating and analysing this information by other means, or to quote former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin “We wanted to do it better, but it turned out as always.” is how this will be left.

A reader is still left to ponder however, whether a “court audit” per the Supreme Court interpretation of the Odessa police request is “interference” in the court, or indeed putting “undue pressure on the judiciary” as claimed by the Economic Court of Odessa?  Audits may be stressful for bookkeepers, accountants and administrative managers whomever the auditor may be, but does it really interfere with the functioning of the court or put undue pressure on a judge?

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Two vastly different explanations – The “raid” on Odessa Air Force property

October 29, 2017

At approximately 0845 hours on Sunday 29th October an incident occurred surrounding the walled Ukrainian Air Force facility (A3571) in Odessa.

About this there is no doubt.

The Ukrainian Air Force publicly states that at this time approximately 50 men wearing balaclavas began to dismantle the fence surrounding this military establishment and removed military equipment, making off in a direction unknown.

The UAF facility states that the men, when challenged, claimed to be representatives of a shopping centre.

The military prosecutor and military law enforcement bodies attended the scene and investigation is under way.  The UAF facility made the following statement – “The command of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine warns against provocative actions near military units. After all, servicemen of daily allowance, in accordance with their statutory duties, have the right to use weapons during service. We appeal to citizens with a request to inform law enforcement agencies about suspicious persons seen near military facilities or in the locations of troops.”

In short, a public warning that any similar act may well result in being shot.

Thus ends the incident description of the Ukrainian military.

A reader is naturally asking why the men breaking down the perimeter fence would claim to be representing a shopping centre – and if that (prima facie) bizarre claim be true, which shopping centre were they representing?

The claim is not as bizarre as it would appear.  The men were indeed representing the Citi Centre shopping mall – an asset of “businessman” (read mafia) Vladimir (Lampochka) Galanternik.

Regular readers will recognise Lampochka’s name, for he was brought into the Alexander (Angel) Angert, Alexander Zhukov criminal organisation by Mayor (Captain) Gennady Trukhanov in the 1990s and has remained an ever-present senior figure since – he has thus featured in numerous historical entries.

Indeed Mayor Trukhanov lives in Ark Palace (his home there recently searched by NABU), a complex owned by Lampochka Galanternik.  Further immediately after becoming Mayor of Odessa, Lampochka acquired the Arcadia beach resort from City Hall (among other prime beach-side land).

That said,  under the control of Alexander (Angel) Angert during the 1990s/00s, Lampochka gravitated toward Alexander Zhukov atop the organised criminality of Odessa – thus it is fair to say that Mayor (Captain) Trukhanov and Vladimir (Lampochka) Galanternik are partners in crime rather than friends.  Mayor Trukhanov remained closer to Angel Angert and Leonid Minin (living in semi-retirement in Rome and who once sat above Angel).

As such, Lampochka has his “own people” in City Hall – at least in part to keep a watchful eye over Mayor Trukhanov.

A reader may now begin to suspect yet further land shenanigans between the Mayor and Lampochka Galanternik, this time at the expense of the Ministry of Defence – and why not?  There are numerous “rental” scams already occurring regarding MoD land in Odessa that forever remain “unresolved” despite prima facie criminality..

If the State grip on the rule of law across Ukraine is weak, then it is almost absent in Odessa where City Hall scams and schemes relating to public buildings and land – and the (criminal) “privatisation” thereof is running amok akin to the wild 1990s.

The four NABU visits to Odessa City Hall have done nothing to limit criminal appetites – nor will they until (in)famous household names go to jail.

Clearly Mayor Trukhanov understands that The Bankova/President Poroshenko are keen to renegotiate their deal with him of 2014/15, in which Mayor Trukhanov’s separatist biases (and those of his media and titushki) were realigned toward Ukraine in return for (almost) carte blanche theft without consequence.

Both the Mayor and The Bankova will be fully aware that separatism will not happen in Odessa, however the Mayor seems fairly certain that The Bankova cannot replace him with a candidate that would beat him in the polls at the next election.  For all the criminal schemes running in the City Hall cesspit he runs, city infrastructure has improved whilst he has been Mayor (though obviously at two or three times the cost it should have).

Realistically, The Bankova has the choice only to remove (jail, or forewarn of immediate jailing so escape can be facilitated) Mayor Trukhanov through the enforcement of criminal law against him.  A better time than now seems unlikely to present itself with several on-going NABU inquiries into City Hall, notwithstanding resonant associated corruption leading to numerous incidents causing death whereby safety standards are simply ignored in City owned premises.

Does President Poroshenko have the spine to do it?

Odessa will not become separatist – it never was – but in removing Mayor Trukhanov, it may fall beyond the daily domestic political control of The Bankova just the same, with Batkivshchyna and Oppo Block increasingly working in tandem in Odessa.

Perhaps a move will be made a little closer to the elections whereby the Speaker of Odessa City Hall (who is a “Goncharenko man” and thus a “Poroshenko man”) could feasibly act as Mayor until scheduled elections occur?  Time will tell.  However if Turkhanov stands, he will win in the absence of any other notable candidate.

Whatever the case, the National Police in Odessa have a very different version of events to that of the Ukrainian Air Force.

In fact it categorically refutes the official statements made by the military.  “I want to refute the information disseminated by the press service.  The policemen went to their place and found that the construction works in question are on the adjacent military part of the territories, that is, outside of it.” – Ruslan Farostak, National Police Odessa.

Thus it was construction workers and not titushki at the Air Force fence.  The construction crew have all the relevant documentation and the issue with the fencing was one of the construction crew using its specialist equipment to mark and erect its own fencing.  50 men in balaclavas were not discovered on any local CCTV.  Or so say the National Police of Odessa.

However, the National Police also recognised that the land in question is particularly sensitive and that numerous individuals and the military have interests – “I know that the conflict has been going on for a long time, and the reason is that the lands that are beyond the boundary of the military unit are of interest to both military and various businessmen, and the city council has allocated a part of this land for the construction of a hypermarket.”

A reader can now read between the lines that Lampochka Galanternik has been given the rights to the land immediately adjacent to the UAF establishment by Mayor Trukhanov and City Hall.  No doubt the legitimacy of this decision will be challenged – far too late to change anything – and NABU will once again be back at City Hall when the damage has been irretrievably been done.

Naturally this will not be the end of the matter – and it is left to a reader to decide whether it is the Ukrainian Air Force or the National Police that are presenting the incident most accurately.

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The Vory (Thief in Law) in Ukraine

October 28, 2017

On 28th October, First Deputy Head of the National Police, Vyacheslav Abroskin, made a public statement about the Vory (Thieves-in-Law from Georgia and beyond) across the regions of Ukraine who have, or are attempting to obtain, Ukrainian citizenship.

The statement made, it has to be said, does not come close to the scale of the problem when it comes to Vory within the nation.

For a start, his statement relates only to those Vor who have or are actively seeking Ukrainian citizenship.  Accordingly only 19 Vory are displayed on a regional map of Ukraine.

There are omissions even to the small list of Vor attempting to remain in Ukraine via citizenship.

Further the illustration related only to the Caucasian Vory actively seeking Ukrainian citizenship.

It is the tip of the Vor iceberg in Ukraine.  An iceberg that despite law enforcement efforts has seen no identifiable systemic police effort to tackle.  It all appears ad hoc – and perhaps it is.

Missing from the illustration of the influential Vory in Odessa are Omar Bekaev (aka Omar Ufimsky), Mindiya Goradze (aka Lavasogly and/or Batumsky) among others.  Absent from mention in Mykolaiv is Mikhail Titov (aka Misha Multik).  Also missing is Andrei Nedzelsky (aka Naedelya) and Ruslan Gegechkori (aka Shlyapa).  On and on it is possible to go with regard the infamous Vory names in Ukraine that go unmentioned (presumably as they do not have, nor currently seek, citizenship).

The police and borders service claim to have deported 14 Thief-in-Laws in  2016, but several are known to have simply returned.  As the illegal border crossing of Misha Saakashvili demonstrates, the penalties for illegal entry into Ukraine are administrative – they are not criminal nor punishable with imprisonment.  (Illegal entry into Ukraine used to be a crime under Article 331 of the Criminal Code, but it was subsequently repealed and an administrative alternative introduced.)

The Prosecutor General’s Office, via Anatoli Matios, stated it believed there were 120 Vory in Ukraine of various nationalities.  That number is perhaps slightly overstated, but it is certainly a number closer to the reality than the 19 named (albeit within the parameters of having or actively seeking Ukrainian citizenship) by the First Deputy Head of the National Police.

The Vory understand, as would anybody that observes rule of law in Ukraine, that the State grip upon it is weak.

That the Verkhovna Rada has refused to make being Vor/Thief-in-Law a criminal offence only further emboldens the Vory seeing Ukraine as a reasonably comfortable place to reside.

Indeed, one of the two Vory appearing in relation to Odessa upon the illustration, Antimos Kukhilava (aka Antik), has appeared in the blog several times since his return in January 2017.  He is currently very active in Zatoka, a place where law enforcement consistently fails.

Another unmentioned Vor from Odessa, Vladimir Dribnyi (aka Poltava) is currently openly trying to bribe local law enforcement (past and current), to return to him the “obschak” (common criminal fund) – $1.07 million, €90,000 and UAH 0.5 million – seized from him on 8th September.

A reader will perhaps be wondering why there is no dedicated task force set up to specifically tackle the established (and establishing) Vor in Ukraine.

After all, with an increase in resident Vory, comes an increase in organised crime – notwithstanding the social issues that come with it and a perception of a State inability to deal with organised (and disorganised) criminality.  With the major influx of Vory into Ukraine, it is therefore reasonable to expect a significant increase in organised criminality.

However, as stated above, simply being Vor is not a crime in Ukraine (albeit it is in some other neighbouring nations).  Neither is illegal entry into Ukraine a crime (any longer).  Ergo deportation for illegal entry (for those Vory without Ukrainian citizenship) is but a temporary hindrance prior to another illegal reentry – and if the organised criminal networks are set up and functioning prior to deportation, there is perhaps less reason to return anyway.

Ukrainian law enforcement is therefore left to deal with the Vory and their criminal networks through the domestic laws that they break.

The inherent difficulty is, however, actually being able to link with sufficient evidence (as opposed to operational intelligence) the Vory to the crimes of their organised criminal networks.

The Vor/Thief-in-Law is generally “crowned” (and invariably “inked”) and thus they have a status that removes them from most “public facing” criminal acts.  Their role is one of management, leadership and occasionally enforcing the “code” between Vory.  Rank has its privileges, mostly removing the senior Vory from active participation in the commission of a crime.

It therefore follows that an effective task force may well target the Vory or an individual Vor, gather vast amounts of operational intelligence (via surveillance, informants and infiltration etc) and yet the result of the investigative and judicial process may leave them conviction-less.  It may be that it will be far more effective to take out the criminal network beneath the Vor than the Vor himself – namely those actively participating in the commissioning of the crime itself and/or the immediate facilitation of profits/property of those criminal activities.

Clearly repeated deportation is not proving to be an effective answer in either keeping the Vory out, or in disrupting and rolling up the organised criminal networks they have formed. Thus it remains to be seen just how Ukraine will deal not only with the increasing number of Vory seeking (or having) Ukrainian citizenship per the illustration, but far more broadly with regard the hundred or so active Vory in the country and the organised crime networks they build.

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Ilmi Umerov and Ahtem Chiygoz return to Ukraine

October 27, 2017

Although this is not a news website, nor even a journalistic endeavour, but now and again the headline news rather than being deliberately avoided is worthy of mention.

Ilmi Umerov and Ahtem Chiygoz, to leading Crimean Tatar figures imprisoned by the Russian occupying machinery of the Crimean peninsula have been released.

They are once again at liberty, a liberty that was wrongly deprived of them.

Their route to freedom from the illegally annexed peninsula, to Russia, then to Turkey, and then latterly to Ukraine is now complete.

Naturally events leading up to this this did not happen overnight.

A great deal of diplomacy was required to get President Putin to sign secret (for they have not appeared on the Kremlin websites) pardons for the “offences” for which they were “convicted” that would allow for their release.

Likewise there will have been a level of secrecy surrounding the timing and route to freedom, insuring no prior media leak.

Assuredly this would not have occurred without the deft and persistent diplomacy of Turkey, a nation that is extremely supportive of its Tatar kin.  Ergo full recognition of the successful diplomatic efforts of Turkey are due – and should be given.  Turkish advocacy for other wrongfully imprisoned Tatar will assuredly continue.

The exact details of the diplomatic negotiations are unlikely to be known for many years.  Who gave up what, how, when, where, and why, to accomplish the release of these two men will remain sensitive for a long time.

Those that do know the exact details will be few in number.

Such is the way of things.

Nevertheless, since 2014 there has seldom been anything approaching good news relating to the Crimean Tatar.  The return of newly liberated Ilmi Umerov and Ahtem Chiygoz to Ukraine is therefore a pinhole of light shining through an otherwise very dark Tatar canvas which, despite being among the normally avoided headline news, in this case is duly noted and very much welcomed.

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Odessa pilot project to be rolled out nationally (Bench marking?)

October 26, 2017

On 26th October Minister for Social Policy Andrei Reva was in Odessa visiting a pilot project run from what will be a centralised City Administration – the building and its acquisition subject to NABU investigation notwithstanding.

On the first floor, with effect from 2nd September, a pilot project was launched in Odessa relating to integrated social services.  (Who knew?)

The centre is apparently a central node for the provision of integrated social services, administrative services, and for the requests and applications of citizens (which presumably don’t fall within the remit administrative services).  A central node for a multitude of local constituency issues.

It seems that the Odessa integrated social services pilot project is unique because, with the support of UNICEF, it is the first in Ukraine to offer social services support by way of case management.  Case management is apparently defined by discovering the social issues of a client, creating an action plan, and then assigning it to a specialist/case officer to assist in enabling solutions.

What went on before, if any assistance was forthcoming at all, will have to be left to a reader’s imagination.

Whatever the case, Odessa has apparently been taking this approach since 2nd September – and has thus been running this pilot scheme for about 6 weeks prior to the Minister’s visit.

It seems almost assured that what happens now is far better than what went before it – however is 6 weeks of a pilot project sufficient time to gather and analyse results (no matter how apparent they may appear prima facie)?

How many social service cases have been opened and subject to case management?  What were the outcomes?  Have those with social issues benefited from their interaction at the integrated social services centre?  Getting behind the numbers, what were the causes of the social issues in the first place?  What bugs are still in the system and what needs tweaking to remove them?  What are the impressions of the case managers?

In short, what are the benchmarks, and over what timescale should this pilot project be assessed prior to any national roll-out?

Apparently 6 weeks is enough, regardless of whether the Minister of Social Policy knows the answers to the questions above (and many more) – or not.

It appears that the rest of Ukraine will be adopting this model with effect from 27th October.

Hurrah and huzzah – if indeed the results suggest a vast qualitative improvement (which hopefully they do), and if Odessa is prepared to be entirely open with other regions regarding the problems it has faced and the solutions it found for them.

The latter is perhaps more questionable than the former as many tormented souls that read the blog and who have “structure and processes” interaction with numerous local government institutions will be well aware.

Perhaps as UNICEF is involved (somehow), it will be keeping some form of statistics that allow for proper bench marking and analysis?  There are both quantitative and qualitative issues with “front line” social services that would be enlightening to peruse.

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Yaroslav the Wise perhaps – not so much The Bankova

October 25, 2017

In 1984, then a judge within the Soviet system, Hryhory Zubets sentenced Ukrainian political activist, emigre, journalist, writer and ultimately chronicler of gulag life (whilst serving time for “anti-Sovier agitation and propaganda), Valery Marchenko to his final term of imprisonment.   Valery Marchenko would die soon after this incarceration.

Despite his known kidney disorder, Judge Hyyhory Zubets sentenced Valery Marchenko to 10 years hard labour and 5 years exile.  In short it was a de facto death sentence for a man steadfastly anti-Soviet, without handing down a de jure execution.

Thankfully the Soviet Union is no longer with us.  Sadly neither is Valery Marchenko.  Judge Jryhory Zubets however remains very much among us, albeit now a retired Court of Appeal judge after decades within the justice system.

Something of a storm has erupted, both at home and abroad, around the retired Judge and this particular case.

It has become known that upon the application of the Council of Judges, and endorsed by the State Judicial Administration, President Poroshenko awarded Hryhory Zubets with a State honour – The Order of Yaroslav the Wise, Class 5.

Yaroslav may indeed have been wise, but is it the case that President Poroshenko is not?

Well perhaps – or perhaps not.

As with many State awards, be it bestowed by Royalty or elected Heads of State, it is probably unfair to expect those personally bestowing such honours to know the history of those they are awarded in any great detail – if at all.

By the time State honours are given, several layers of bureaucracy have already been jumped through.  (Should your author ever receive an MBE or Ukrainian State award for a decade of daily blogging, it is unlikely those awarding would have any idea about the blog or its contents.)

Generally a nomination has to be made – in this case by the Council of Judges.  Committees or panels then ponder.  Some form of due diligence occurs with the intent not only to rightfully award to the deserving, but also to avoid scandal.

Ukraine, dysfunctional as it can be, operates in a fairly similar way (when not honouring friends and abusing the State award system).

Thus, with an application from the Council of Judges, and supporting endorsement of the State Judicial Administration, and having made its way through The Bankova machinery before reaching the president, why would President Poroshenko not make such an award (on the presumption he is not personally acquainted with Hyyhory Zubets and aware of his background)?

However, despite all that has been written about judicial reform, this incident highlights a requirement to look at the judges within the system – not individually, but in broad brushstroke categories.

Yes there will be exceptions to the sweeping generalisations below, but perhaps there is some merit in making some generalisations anyway?

It is perhaps only right to begin with the peers of Hryhory Zubets – for there remains a rare breed of judge in the Ukrainian judicial system – the “Soviet judge” – or at least a judge that initially served within the Soviet system and remains in the current system.

The “Soviet judge” is not the brightest of legal scholars.  Why would they be when the courts where nowhere near the top of the Soviet system?   It is necessary to understand the hierarchy of the Soviet system in which these average law students became judges.

Soviet State bodies were (officially from 1977) subordinate to “The Party”.

Thus, if looking at the Soviet hierarchy in towns and cities in 1984 when Judge Zubets effectively sentenced Valery Marchenko to death, it would probably look something like this:  Top Dog and Head Boy would be the first secretary of the city committee, followed by members of the city committee bureau, the city prosecutor, the head of the territorial division of the KGB, the chairman of the city executive committee, the secretaries of the district committees, the chief of the militia, the editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, the members of the city executive committee and only then the chairman of the court and director of the central department store.

A standard judge would be yet further down the food chain – akin to deputies of the district council and investigators of the district prosecutor’s office.  Ergo judges did not decide anything serious whatsoever.  Minor criminality and civil cases being about their limit.  It follows then that such an average job attracted only average law graduates.  The smarter law graduates headed to “The Party”, the KGB, and Prosecutors Office.

As such sentences of meaningful or notable cases were often dictated to the judge to hand out by the “city committee”.  Judicial independence therefore granted only in affairs of no importance or public resonance.

The collapse of the Soviet system then brought about the next type of judge within the current Ukrainian.  Naturally the chaos of the 1990s and reallocation of wealth and power allowed the “Soviet judge” to become wealthy as the “mirroring” of western institutions and processes occurred and chasms of lawless voids within the rule of law were filled by the quick-witted.

The problem being it was form over substance  Everything could be bought and sold.  State assets, positions within State institutions, and justice/judicial verdicts.

Thus Soviet judge adapting to a new and lucrative environment was joined by those who bought their judicial positions specifically to exploit them – the “Capitalist (or free market) judge”.  At the same time the “Soviet judge” managed to insure that their children (should they desire) also found their way into the rule of law system – be it judge or prosecutor etc.

The “Capitalist judge” probably makes up the majority of the current Ukrainian judiciary, simply due to the aging and subsequent retirements of the “Soviet judge”.

There is then the “Political judge” also within the current Ukrainian judicial system.  The “Political judge” is also “Capitalist”, but this is the judge whose position is bought for them by the political party or oligarch to deliver the right verdict when required each and every time – in the knowledge that no matter how outrageous the verdict, the political party or oligarch will act as the influential “roof” that will protect them.

“Capitalist” wealth accumulation aside, the “Political judge” is almost a return to the “Soviet judge” by way of outcomes, but within a system with far more political masters than “The Party”, and thus the system is far less regimented.  Nevertheless, when the time comes both the “Soviet judge” and “Political judge” are entirely politically subservient.

Time will tell whether judicial reform will bring with it an increase in the “Political Judge” numbers rather than those of the “Capitalist judge” – or perhaps, if the planets align, there will be an increase in that most rare of judges within the current judicial system.  That last category of judge within the Ukrainian system is the “Honest judge”.

The “Honest judge” is not a figment of the imagination.  They do exist.  (There are even two or three in Odessa).  Sadly the “Honest judge” is rarer than the “Soviet judge” – which as time passes becomes extinct.

The “Honest judge” can perhaps be identified easiest by the fact that they never allocated the high profile politically or business sensitive, or personality sensitive cases, and by the fact that both prosecution and defence council simultaneously roll their eyes in the knowledge that the “Honest judge” will not be reaching out to them to begin the financial bartering over outcomes from which they too would normally “earn”.

No matter how many years they have served as a judge, the “Honest judge” will not have been allocated a case whereby a “desired verdict” was required.  The allocation of cases system (which is supposed to be automated and random in case allocation) can be manipulated to insure cases with desired outcomes will not be heard before the “Honest judge”.

Some courts simply do not employ the automated system thus allowing the heads of those courts to allocate cases accordingly if desired results are required.  Others will show the “Honest judge” on holiday, hearing another case, sick, or otherwise unavailable within the automated system to insure a case where required outcomes are desired cannot fall to be heard by them.

So it goes on.

Thus, when considering the storm around the The Order of Yaroslav the Wise, Class 5 State award to Hryhory Zubets, there is perhaps reason to suspect that the sentence he passed was one he was instructed to pass.   The Soviet judge in the Soviet system.

That however, particularly in the context of on-going “national decommunisation” and the particulars relating to Valery Marchenko, does not sufficiently mitigate those involved in pushing this award to the president.  In fact the reverse should be true.  The “Soviet judge” should perhaps be subject to greater scrutiny when State honours are awarded – for as a reader will know, “only following orders” doesn’t always stand up too well in a court (be it of law or public opinion), and they will all have followed orders. at one time or another.

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