Archive for November 7th, 2017

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Electoral changes ahead? A robust defence is required

November 7, 2017

On 19th October the Verkhovna Rada failed to adopt any of three draft laws relating to changes in the electoral statute and, as a result, rejected desired changes to the electoral system of Ukraine.

7th November saw two draft laws once again submitted for a vote relating to the electoral system.  Draft laws 3112 and 3112-1.

Bill 3112, clearly substandard, received only 103 votes – and rightly came nowhere near the minimum 226 votes required.

Bill 3112-1 however, managed to garner exactly 226 votes, thus successfully passed on its first reading – if only just.  A second reading will necessarily follow per Verkhovna Rada procedural requirement.  Then President Poroshenko will probably have to be pressured to sign it in a timely fashion.

Bill 3112-1 is not perfect, but it is certainly not bad.

Whilst simultaneously combining five other electoral laws into one (presidential, parliamentary, local, state register, and CEC), what will catch the eye for most onlookers is the fact that this new Bill removes the ability for the leaders of political parties to insure their favourite, and/or most loyal, and/or most affluent politicians will inevitably remain around them in the Verkhovna Rada by way of closed list manipulation (as is currently the case), or disingenuously managed, (as recently proposed by Yulia Tymoshenko), proportional party lists.

For example, under the Bill receiving 226 votes today, no more could President Poroshenko insure Igor Kononenko remains in parliament, than Mrs Tymoshenko could insure Serhiy Vlasenko survives, or Sergei Liovochkin save Mykola Skoryk.

A much needed break with odious political tradition offers itself.

In short, neither buying a place high enough up a party proportional list, nor being a long term and trusted ally of the party leader would insure a place in parliament  as is currently the case.  It will be the voter that decides just who upon a party list manages to gather enough votes to reach parliament upon any proportional party list.

Needless to say, having only just managed to garner the minimum 226 votes to get over the line at its first reading, this law is likely to see several thousand suggested amendments submitted for consideration – almost all of which will be submitted to the detriment of voter choice, but to the benefit of party leaders and their most desired “chosen men/women” .

A reader need only recall the several thousand proposed amendments to the education law after its first reading, or the probability that there will be well over a thousand suggested amendments prior to the second reading of the “temporarily occupied Donbas” legislation, to understand what awaits Bill 3112-1 before its second reading.

As such the battle to break the party leaders grubby and dishonest manipulations of the proportional party lists, an ever-present phenomenon since independence, only now truly begins – for there is now something for the reform orientated and civil society to defend over an issue that has long been held as sacred among their ranks.

It will require a particularly stoic and fierce defence.

All will be required to man the gates to repel numerous attempts to sabotage Bill 3112-1.

It remains to be seen whether the reformers and civil society will be able to defend their keep, protecting what would be a law that would seriously make life difficult for current party leaders and their nefarious manipulations of the proportional vote.

If the defence of this law as it stands is successful, it will be significant blow to political corruption.  Some truly odious creatures that have long inhabited the Verkhovna Rada may find themselves ejected by the voter – to the dismay of party leaders.

Yet if they are to be successful, then due to the fundamental changes involved, the second reading should be as timely as possible to allow election officials and the voting constituency to understand exactly what those changes entail at the ballot box long before polling day.

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The Paradise Papers – Ukraine

November 7, 2017

The revelations of the Paradise Papers leak are perhaps worthy of a few lines – though to be entirely blunt there were no new revelations relating to Ukraine.

Ukraine hardly features at all – inferring the Ukrainian elite prefer Panama to Paradise.

For example, the revelations relating to Ukrtransgaz had already been subject to investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office – with the usual result of no result.

That a close associate of disgraced former-President Yanukovych likes yachts, engaged in criminal activity and opaque offshore schemes is not a surprise either.  The business entities under his control have also been subject to investigation in recent years, and would also appear to have resulted in the same outcome as that above – no result.

There is then the matter of President Poroshenko.

The latest Paradise Papers leaks indicate an attempted course of action that ultimately failed – as Appleby, the victim of the leaks, declined to entertain President Poroshenko as a client.

In short, the long ago published Panama Papers, of which Fonseca was the victim, are theoretically more damaging – for they display a course of implemented action, after Appleby declined the approaches of the Poroshenko lawyers.

The Panama Papers revelations went nowhere – at least not yet.

In fact it is important to note that neither the Paradise nor Panama Papers could reasonably be used in evidence in a court of law unless the original downloads and “whistle blower” attend court to testify with the original download available for forensic testing.  The court must be satisfied that no documents or data have been altered or forged – which requires original documents and/or meta data and the individual(s) that downloaded them.

As such, what the Paradise and Panama Papers do is supply operational intelligence for law and/or tax enforcement bodies, which whether new or corroborative, would require the long and drawn out process of gaining access to original documents – often across numerous banks, in numerous nations/jurisdictions, requiring a lot of goodwill from law enforcement and judicial peers worldwide.  That all takes time.  A lot of time.  Years in fact.

To be blunt, the worst outcome for President Poroshenko maybe the (further) colouring of perceptions with pre-election electioneering underway, whilst simultaneously attempting to be the champion of Ukrainian anti-corruption upon the international stage – for neither Paradise nor Panama Papers display solid evidence of illegal acts, but may be perceived as less than morally upstanding for a nation’s president.

Thus a reader, a Ukrainian voter, and those “friendly nations supporting Ukraine”, are left to decide between an inferred nefariousness and/or a significant failing in personal integrity, or accepting the statements and actions of the Poroshenko lawyers that dealt with both Appleby’s and Fonseca.

With presidential elections in March 2019, there will not be another Maidan.  In 18 months, should the Ukrainian constituency choose to do so, they can remove President Poroshenko democratically and peacefully – or indeed reelect him.

The question is perhaps whether any drop in public opinion polls brings about a Bankova response?  There are plenty of options to reassert “anti-corruption bona fides“.before the skeptical national constituency.  Nasirov or Martynenko, or Judge Volk or other high profile names under investigation may become the first big fish to go to jail during the Poroshenko term in office.  So far no big fish have gone to jail.

If the policy of jailing no big fish is to continue, then there are statutory offerings that can be delivered to “prove” the Poroshenko “anti-corruption bona fides” to the electorate prior to polling day – The removal of MP immunity.  Genuine open party lists for the parliamentary elections in October 2019.  The delivery of an anti-corruption court.  So it goes on, because there is still so much to do.

Considering the prima facie lack of robust evidence of criminality, perhaps The Bankova may indulge an investigation simply to claim “nobody is above the law” (despite the fact no big fish having gone to jail) as some form of electoral psychology – but it probably doesn’t think it needs to.

Whatever the case, like the Panama Papers before them, the revelations of the Paradise Papers will not unseat President Poroshenko – not before March 2019 anyway.  In fact they probably won’t be sufficient to make any changes to the way The Bankova currently operates at all.

 

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The Paradise Papers – Ukraine

November 7, 2017

The revelations of the Paradise Papers leak are perhaps worthy of a few lines – though to be entirely blunt there were no new revelations relating to Ukraine.

Ukraine hardly features at all – inferring the Ukrainian elite prefer Panama to Paradise.

For example, the revelations relating to Ukrtransgaz had already been subject to investigation by the Prosecutor General’s Office – with the usual result of no result.

That a close associate of disgraced former-President Yanukovych likes yachts, engaged in criminal activity and opaque offshore schemes is not surprise either.  The business entities under his control have also been subject to investigation in recent years, and would also appear to have resulted in the same outcome as that above – no result.

There is then the matter of President Poroshenko.

The latest Paradise Papers leaks indicate an attempted course of action that ultimately failed – as Appleby, the victim of the leaks, declined to entertain President Poroshenko as a client.

In short, the long ago published Panama Papers, of which Fonseca was the victim, are theoretically more damaging – for they display a course of implemented action, after Appleby declined the approaches of the Poroshenko lawyers.

The Panama Papers revelations went nowhere – at least not yet.

In fact it is important to note that neither the Paradise nor Panama Papers could reasonably be used in evidence in a court of law unless the original downloads and “whistle blower” attend court to testify with the original download available for forensic testing.  The court must be satisfied that no documents or data have been altered or forged – which requires original documents and/or meta data and the individual(s) that downloaded them.

As such, what the Paradise and Panama Papers do is supply operational intelligence for law and/or tax enforcement bodies, which whether new or corroborative, would require the long and drawn out process of gaining access to original documents – often across numerous banks, in numerous nations/jurisdictions, requiring a lot of goodwill from law enforcement and judicial peers worldwide.  That all takes time.  A lot of time.  Years in fact.

To be blunt, the worst outcome for President Poroshenko maybe the (further) colouring of perceptions with pre-election electioneering underway, whilst simultaneously attempting to be the champion of Ukrainian anti-corruption upon the international stage – for neither Paradise nor Panama Papers display solid evidence of illegal acts, but may be perceived as less than morally upstanding for a nation’s president.

Thus a reader, a Ukrainian voter, and those “friendly nations supporting Ukraine”, are left to decide between an inferred nefariousness and/or a significant failing in personal integrity, or accepting the statements and actions of the Poroshenko lawyers that dealt with both Appleby’s and Fonseca.

With presidential elections in March 2019, there will not be another Maidan.  In 18 months, should the Ukrainian constituency choose to do so, they can remove President Poroshenko democratically and peacefully – or indeed reelect him.

The question is perhaps whether any drop in public opinion polls brings about a Bankova response?  There are plenty of options to reassert “anti-corruption bona fides“.before the skeptical national constituency.  Nasirov or Martynenko, or Judge Volk or other high profile names under investigation may become the first big fish to go to jail during the Poroshenko term in office.  So far no big fish have gone to jail.

If the policy of jailing no big fish is to continue, then there are statutory offerings that can be delivered to “prove” the Poroshenko “anti-corruption bona fides” to the electorate prior to polling day – The removal of MP immunity.  Genuine open party lists for the parliamentary elections in October 2019.  The delivery of an anti-corruption court.  So it goes on, because there is still so much to do.

Considering the prima facie lack of robust evidence of criminality, perhaps The Bankova may indulge an investigation simply to claim “nobody is above the law” (despite the fact no big fish having gone to jail) as some for of electoral psychology – but it probably does think it needs to.

Whatever the case like the Panama Papers before them, the revelations of the Paradise Papers will not unseat President Poroshenko – not before March 2019 anyway.  In fact they probably won’t be sufficient to make any changes to the way The Bankova currently operates at all.

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