“The President wants to control everything” – Olena Sotnyk on the Anti-Corruption Court

On May 23, the parliament began consideration of the draft law on the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court in the second reading. MPs will continue to process the amendments during the next plenary week – after June 5.

MP Olena Sotnyk of the Samopomich parliamentary faction sharing her thoughts on what the final decision might look like.

What we are witnessing now is the implementation of the scenario which we could have expected from the very beginning. On March 1, the parliament voted in the first reading for the presidential bill as a compromise one. They promised to correct it and amend by the time of the second reading.

But this week we see how all the amendments are being killed. This is what usually happens with the majority of important laws – when amendments are considered, there is a real three-ring circus with 50 deputies working, of whom 10 have some idea about what the amendments are about, while in fact these are 2-3 people who determine the fate of the law.

And these people are not even in the Verkhovna Rada.

Stumbling block

The most heated discussions are now being held in relation to the issue of the selection of judges and the work of the commission for their selection.

So we have the position of the President who wants to control everything, and does not want to provide international experts with a right of vetoing the candidates.

There is another, supposedly compromising position, which provides for the possibility of overcoming the veto by a two-thirds vote of the nomination commission. However, this, in fact, is the depreciation of the opinion of the international experts, because these are Ukrainians that comprise two-thirds of the commission.

On the other hand, there is an opposing position of the International Monetary Fund, which wants the people whose reputations are doubtful to have nothing to do with the court, and therefore they want to make it impossible to overcome the veto of international experts.

The factions of Samopomich, Batkivshchyna and, since recently, Narodnyi Front support this position. According to the people’s deputies, the veto must be unappealable for one simple reason – if there is any doubt about the judge who wants to work in the Anti-Corruption Court, this candidacy cannot be considered at all.

These people must be out of question altogether.

What’s next?

Obviously, during the negotiations, the parties will make minimal concessions. Maybe, these concessions will concern the issue of veto for international experts.

However, even if we manage to obtain a 100-percent veto of international experts, this law is still unsystematic and has other problematic issues and gaps, due to which the President will be able to control the Anti-Corruption Court.

In particular, when will the court start working? In 5 years, in 10 years? This bill offers no clear deadlines, that is, the process might be stretched infinitively.

Apart from this, what kind of case will this court deal with? The ones suggested by the President? Or it would be wiser to engage this court in the cases investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau?

These are very important things for the court’s proper work.

We see how complicated the negotiations are. I guess it might be the case that in June, once the parliament considers all the amendments and it will be the time to vote, there will still be no consolidated position.

Then I see two scenarios: either the third reading of the key amendments, or a repeated second reading. And let me emphasize that it is the faction of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc that is the decisive one.

And last but not least. MPs must remember that Ukraine is a parliamentary-presidential republic, and they were elected by the people in order to protect the interests of Ukrainians, not the President.

While the stance of the IMF on the Anti-Corruption Court is so rigid not because they need an anti-corruption court – they do not strive to imprison everybody. The International Monetary Fund strives to have financial stability in Ukraine. While corruption is a key threat to financial stability in any country.

And since the IMF is our chief creditor, corruption is a huge risk for them. But, despite the manipulation of some politicians, now the IMF is acting in the interests of Ukrainian people more than the majority of the Ukrainian MPs.

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