Archive for February 21st, 2018

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When you find yourself agreeing with specific populist electioneering outcomes

February 21, 2018

The blog has long loath populist politics.  It is a recurring matter of record.  Further it cares little for party politics, for solid and sound policy and effective implementation thereof is what matters from whichever political party holds office at any given time.

While the stars are aligning for Irena Lutsenko within the presidential party – which can be defined as the movement of Solidarity/Block Poroshenko politicians toward her centre of gravity and away from that of Ihor Kononenko (who appears now tasked with “business development” within the innermost presidential conclave), political fortune somewhat wanes for her husband, Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko – for reasons some of which can be laid squarely at his own door.

Oh Fortuna!

Nevertheless, Yuri Lutsenko on 21st February made what is clearly an election orientated populist announcement,  which despite its manipulative and belated political raison d’être nevertheless has some merit regarding the rule of law.

In short, Mr Lutsenko has muted the idea that the Prosecutor’s Office will instigate changes to the law, to be put before the Verkhovna Rada, that convictions of politicians and civil servants for corruption should carry a minimum of 1 year in custody, and also that once provided with official notification of suspicion, that said officials should automatically be suspended from their roles as due process continues.

Mr Lutsenko also bemoaned the fact that less than 10% of successful convictions within this category have resulted in any meaningful sentencing.

If only judicial reform had actually been judicial reform with integrity, rather than a veneer of restructuring and process overhaul that has clearly retained a place for political influence – albeit via a different route.

Whilst always wary of statutorily obliging judges when it comes to sentencing, rather than providing sentencing guidelines, clearly there needs to be a very real deterrent in the event of a successful prosecution – rather than a padded landing.

A reader will not be indifferent to the current weak grasp upon the rule of law in Ukraine – and neither were the legislators when corruption related statute was passed.  Neither were they unaware of the corrupt judicial system past and present.  Ergo Prosecutor General Lutsenko is surely not surprised that only 10% of successful corruption related prosecutions have resulted it anything close to meaningful sentences – and neither is anybody else.

Thus, if Articles 210, 354, 364, 365-2, 368, 368-2, 368-368-4, and 369 of the relevant existing statute require amendment to insert a mandatory minimum 1 year prison sentence and automatic suspension from office whilst due process slowly progresses, that deficiency has deliberately been left unaddressed since the relevant statute became law.

After all, even with a mandatory minimum 1 year sentence for corruption set in statute, thus binding the judiciary to some extent, there must first be a guilty verdict passed down.

How swiftly these proposed amendments make it through the Verkhovna Rada committees and voting chamber will also probably be subject to a politically expedient timetable rather than a legislative timetable for the purposes of electoral impact.

So, despite recognising the Prosecutor General’s statement as populist electoral politics, perhaps despite the allergic reaction it causes, the outcome if passed and rigorously implemented will be worth the populist rash it causes.

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