The “imitation game” continues. When will the government anti-raiding commission show results?

The issue of raiding and illegal seizure of property was one of the most topical in the political and public life in Ukraine throughout the summer and autumn, and was actively covered by the media. Hundreds of enterprises of the agrarian sector, processing, food, and manufacturing industries, including companies with foreign investments, complained of raider attacks. Therefore, the government decided to lead the fight against illegal takeovers and made a number of bold statements saying that that problem would be resolved in a short time and once and for all. In the summer, the Cabinet of Ministers restored the activities of the Interdepartmental Commission on the Protection of Investors’ Rights, Counteracting to Illegal Seizures and Takeovers of Enterprises (hereinafter referred to as the Commission) with a completely renewed staff. When the Commission was set up, the leadership of the state set a course for a complete overcoming of raiding, reducing the pressure of state bodies on entrepreneurs, and increasing the investment attractiveness of Ukraine for foreign business.

Regional anti-raiding headquarters subordinate to the Commission were created, there were active discussions on the development and implementation of a broad anti-raiding bill. Law enforcement officers did not lag behind either – many heads of the regional departments of the National Police reported to the media that they were going to put an end to raiding and those responsible would be held accountable. And now, when it has been long since those pretentious statements and “determined” steps of the authorities, we see that the situation has not improved at all.

It is the abovementioned Commission under the Cabinet of Ministers, chaired by the First Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine Stepan Kubiv, that was supposed to become the symbol of the fight against raiding in our country. However, now, looking back at the path the Commission has traveled over the last 5 months, one can confidently say that the Commission fell short of expectations. No matter how bitter it may sound, for almost half a year of the Commission’s existence, only four of its sessions were held during which 9 cases of raider attacks on enterprises of agriculture and food industry were presented. All summer long, there were reports about the seizure of agricultural enterprises from everywhere; according to the Association of Farmers and Landowners of Ukraine, more than 600 cases of raider attacks were recorded, while the governmental Commission has only examined 9 cases. At the same time, more new reports from enterprises come all the time; since the beginning of 2018 alone, I as a people’s deputy of Ukraine have received 4 appeals from citizens. Given this, the statements of the Prosecutor General saying that the raiding problem has been tackled, along with the comments of the Ministry of Justice that the number of raider attacks has significantly decreased, look, at least, strange.

Well, what could we have expected if even the organizational support of the work of the Commission has not been fully established in five months? The Analytical Group of the Commission, which was supposed to carry out the initial processing of the reports, has never actually started working. In addition, there are quite big shortcomings of the system of informing members of the Commission about the meetings. It was often the case that the notifications about the meetings came 2-3 days before the meetings. There has been a non-systematic work, despite the announced plans to hold meetings every 2 weeks. All this puts into question the professionalism and effectiveness of the Commission’s fulfillment of its tasks.

The Commission’s webpage was created on the government’s website; however, its content resembles dry reporting of state bodies. The page mentions a hotline, which citizens should call and report on the cases of property seizure, whle the secretariat should promptly inform the members of the Commission and schedule the next meeting. However, apart from the words “Hot Line”, “Secretary of the Commission”, “Regional Commissions”, and hyperlinks, there are no contacts! The situation looks even more amusing when ones learn that the implementation of the idea to create a hotline took about 2 months.

So what should citizens be doing in the event there area armed titushky at the doors of their companies trying to seize them? Collecting a pile of papers and sending them to Kyiv by post?

The Commission states that the small number of meetings held and cases examined are due to the fact that few applications have been submitted. But how can they be submitted if the Commission itself does not provide simple ways for citizens to apply? Of course, it is easier to say that there are few cases of raiding in the state, but one must face the truth – so far there is no desire and will to consider and effectively solve the situations with raider attacks. The Commission itself, judging by its full name (Interdepartmental Commission on the Protection of Investors’ Rights, Counteracting to Illegal Seizures and Takeovers of Enterprises), should not only deal with raiding cases. Do you believe that in 5 months, in our country, not a single enterprise has had any problems with the pressure on the part of fiscal authorities, law enforcement agencies, controlling bodies, and just random people with a hunger for enrichment? This is a rhetorical question. The fact that there are no appeals to the Commission does not mean there are effective mechanisms of securing property rights, proper instruments of prosecution or a high level of market values protection; it means that the Commission looks weak, inefficient in its work, and also hard-to-reach and little-known for the general public.

It should be noted that the reports of the state bodies on the work done upon the instructions of the Commission looked more like formal answers and promises to help in the future. In fact, none of the nine problems heard by the Commission was resolved, none of the owners got their property rights back, moreover, in some cases, the situation has even deteriorated, and the raiders started acting more insolently. Looks like the Chairman of the Commission, Stepan Kubiv, is not provided with the conditions for ensuring an effective functioning of this body. This approach causes deep concerns both among Ukrainian citizens who cannot be sure of the inviolability of their property, as well as among foreign investors who are increasingly afraid of investing in our state.

Therefore, I, being a people’s deputy of Ukraine, a member of the Commission and the Chairman of the Board of the NGO ‘Business-Varta”, declare that it is necessary to stop playing the imitation game of fighting against raiding and protecting business in Ukraine. As a member of the Commission and on behalf of the NGO “Business-Varta”, I demand an immediate meeting of the Committee, during which we need to do the following things:

1) to listen to the reports of the state bodies that were instructed to perform certain actions in relation to the previously reviewed cases of raiding; to ask them what specific actions have been taken in the last 5 months, what recommendations of the Commission have been taken into account and to what exact, and which have not been taken into account and why?

2) to invite all registrars, notaries, employees of the National Police, prosecutor’s office, as well as their direct managers, who by their actions contributed to the conduct of raider attacks or to the further sabotage of the investigation in the framework of criminal proceedings upon the raider attacks on the enterprises already considered by the Commission. With the participation of representatives of the affected enterprises, it is necessary to ask specific questions about the goals of the unlawful actions, the specifics of the investigation, the reasons for its delay, and the like;

3) to examine new appeals from the enterprises that complain of raider attacks;

4) to consider the proposal to hold filed meetings of the Commission in the regions where enterprises that have suffered from raiding are located;

5) to summarize the interim results of the work of the Commission since its creation.

I believe that the eloquent statements proclaimed by the leadership of the state in the summer and in the autumn should finally find their confirmation and correlate with the actually implemented steps and initiatives.

Ivan Miroshnichenko
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