The fight against corruption in Ukraine: the West intensifies the pressure on Kiev

“I write to You to Express our full support for the efforts of the government and Parliament of Ukraine in carrying out a wide range of reforms, which, inter alia, promote transparency, accountability and effectiveness of government, including preventing corruption among civil servants”. Reading the first line of the letter signed by 20 MPs from the informal group “Friends of Ukraine”, the Ukrainian authorities can feel pride in their reform progress.

However, a letter addressed to President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Groisman and Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Parubiy, is not laudatory. In it, MEPs did not hide his surprise from the ingenuity of Ukrainian politicians, who under the guise of anti-corruption reforms are sabotaging the fight against corruption.

Revenge of the Ukrainian deputies to yet?

A speech in the letter, dated may 4, talking about the amendments to the law on electronic Declaration (e-Declaration). This act, reminiscent of the MEPs is designed to ensure transparency of work of public servants, obliging them to declare all the property and the, and family. However, on March 23 Ukrainian MPs have made to the law of change: in the list of persons required to report to citizens about their property that included representatives of public organizations that are engaged in the fight against corruption.

MEPs are concerned that now the law, which was supposed to serve the public control over politicians and officials, can become a means of pressure on non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

“We are not against the NGOs reported on their work and finances. However, in this case, the more it seems that some political circles just decided to take revenge for the fact that they were forced to disclose their income,” — said in an interview with DW, one of the signers of the letter Michael Gallery (Michael Gahler). The MEP from the German Christian Democrats called on the Ukrainian politicians to abandon “petty revenge” and to consider anti-corruption activists as opponents, but as allies in reform.

The legality of income, you must confirm

For the correction deputies voted almost all factions. Among the parliamentarians who initiated it, a lot of those in electronic declarations, you can find cars at the price of ten annual salaries of the entire family, millions cash and luxury properties. All this before they did not declare, because Ukraine was not, as now, the criminal liability for concealment of income. When earlier this year MPs had to disclose the size of his fortune, for many Ukrainians it was a real shock.

It is the activists of anti-corruption organizations in the eyes of many Ukrainian politicians, obviously, “guilty” in the fact that they now have to justify to the voters. Non-governmental organizations celebrated the introduction of electronic declarations for officials as a landmark victory. And, indeed, to some extent, it was their victory: they carefully followed the implementation of EU requirements regarding the law on e-Declaration and sounded the alarm in the media every time, when members of Parliament tried to introduce new amendments to avoid declaring or not to be responsible for the concealment of the property.

“Many Ukrainian politicians and top officials are revealed in the declarations of 2016 is impressive income. Society must get answers to the question of the legality of this income,” — said in an interview with DW, the MEP from Lithuania “green” Bronislaw Rope, one of the signers of the letter. Only after the Declaration system of the state politicians and officials will start working and will clean the system, it will be possible to discuss the introduction of the Declaration of the state of other citizens, including representatives of non-governmental organizations, considers the ROP.

Activists are not against accountability

Executive Director of “Transparency International — Ukraine” Yaroslav Yurchyshyn in an interview with DW said that his organization publishes annually a detailed report about its funding. As MEPs, it is of the opinion that the changes made in the end of March amendments to the law on e-Declaration more like revenge of the Parliament activists.

“We and our European partners hope to see a repeal of these amendments. To begin with, we expect from the President initiatives to remedy this situation, and then we are ready for a public debate on greater accountability of public organizations”, — said Yaroslav Yurchyshyn DW.

Before you sign the amendments to the act in late March, Poroshenko met with representatives of the anti-corruption non-governmental organizations. At the meeting, he acknowledged the need for the abolition of amendments, but the law is still signed. Poroshenko has promised to create at administration of the President a working group with participation of representatives of civil society, which has prepared proposals to improve the transparency of NGO funding. However, according to the representative of Transparency International, for more than a month after the meeting, the group was never created, and no formal consultation was not.

“The European Union will not stand for it”

However, the pressure of international partners Kiev is growing. Concern about the decision of the Kyiv to equate social activists to top officials and to force them to submit to accountability expressed in the German government. In particular, in an interview with DW said the Deputy of Bundestag from the ruling Christian democratic Union, Franz Josef Jung (Franz Josef Jung). “This is a serious setback in the fight against corruption, which makes us worry,” said the German politician.

The question before the Ukrainian leadership was raised by the European Commission. As DW reported in the press service of the Ministry, Brussels calls on Kyiv to immediately revise legislative rule on Declaration of incomes of non-governmental organizations. “Should refrain from any actions that would interfere with the key role of civil society”, — emphasized in the European Commission.

Spanish MEP Javier Nart warns that ignoring the requirements of the EU’s anti-corruption and anti-corruption pressure on the organization will not remain without reaction. “If the amendments that we have criticized in a letter will not be cancelled and will have negative implications for non-governmental organizations, the European Union will have to rethink the feasibility of political and economic support that we give to Ukraine,” warned MEP from the centre party “Citizens”. Nart expressed concern that, if not prevent attempts of pressure on NGOs in Ukraine in relation to the third sector may be on a par with authoritarian countries, including Russia.

The irony is reshaped by the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada and turned against activists of the anti-corruption law, was developed with international expert support, which is paid, in particular, and the European Union.