A selection panel on Feb. 3 failed to nominate a chief anti-corruption prosecutor for the third time.
The panel that chooses the anti-corruption prosecutor consists of four international experts and six members delegated by parliament. Three of the pro-government members failed to attend a panel meeting on Feb. 3, and there was no quorum as a result.
The chief anti-corruption prosecutor oversees all cases pursued by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).
The appointment of an independent professional who is free from political influence has been one of the key requirements of Ukraine’s Western partners and donors. Ukraine's failure to do so is likely to spoil relations with the West and disrupt lending from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“Today (President Volodymyr) Zelensky blocked the appointment of the winner in the contest for the chief anti-corruption prosecutor,” Vitaly Shabunin, head of the Anti-Corruption Action Center's executive board, wrote on Facebook on Feb. 3. “Zelensky showed his disrespect for the U.S. again…. and his disrespect for the Ukrainians."
The President's Office did not respond to a request for comment.
The selection was almost over in December, but pro-government participants of the selection committee blocked the process when it was clear that the candidate who is deemed to be independent was winning.
NABU detective Oleksandr Klymenko has received the highest score. However, pro-government members of the selection panel refused to nominate Klymenko as the chief anti-corruption prosecutor twice before — on Dec. 21 and Dec. 24.
Since then, the panel’s head Kateryna Koval blocked the selection process by demanding that the Security Service of Ukraine and other state agencies conduct a second background check on Klymenko.
Klymenko – like all other candidates – has already passed a background check. The National Agency for Corruption Prevention and anti-corruption activists say that a second background check would be unlawful.
The panel’s repeated failure to appoint the winner goes against Zelensky’s earlier promises that the chief anti-corruption prosecutor would be appointed by the end of 2021.