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Letter: Panel members call on Venediktova to help unblock anti-graft prosecutor selection

December 29, 2021 4:01 pmby TheKyivIndependent
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Members of the special anti-corruption prosecutor selection panel meet via Zoom on Dec. 24, 2021. (Pravo TV)

Editor’s Note: The following is an open letter to Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova from five members of the anti-corruption prosecutor selection panel. The Kyiv Independent publishes it with permission. The seat of Ukraine’s anti-corruption prosecutor has been vacant since August 2020. Watchdogs blame officials for delaying and sabotaging attempts to choose a new anti-corruption prosecutor.

Dear Mrs. Venediktova,

We write to express our concerns about the lack of progress in the competition to appoint the new head of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) and other SAPO officials and to ask for your assistance in unblocking the process so that the Selection Commission (the "Commission") can successfully conclude its work as soon as possible.

On Dec. 21, the commission concluded the practical skills interviews, the final stage of the competition, and calculated the scores for all candidates. This resulted in clear winners: Oleksander Klymenko for the position of the head of SAPO, Andrii Syniuk for the position of deputy head of SAPO, and Serhii Savytskyi for the position of head of SAPO’s Fifth Unit.

Yet, the Commission refused to certify the results, submit Klymenko's name to you, or even approve a resolution confirming the simple mathematical scores of the candidates. During the Dec. 21 meeting, the Chair of the Commission, Kateryna Koval, offered various reasons why the commission could not immediately certify the results including that she needed to first consult with the General Prosecutor's Office about the candidates' compliance with the law.

On Dec. 22, Ms. Koval informed the commission that, on behalf of the commission, she had asked you as General Prosecutor to provide the commission with confirmation that Mr. Klymenko and Mr. Syniuk are in compliance with the requirements of the laws "On Purification of Power," "On Prevention of Corruption," and "On State Secrets." This letter was sent on Ms. Koval's own initiative without the approval of the commission.

According to a letter we received from one candidate (Mr. O. Klymenko) some Prosecutor General Office officials apparently mistakenly understood Ms. Koval's letter to represent a decision by the commission to conduct new background checks on the candidates. This is not the case - the commission already has the results of the necessary background checks on all the winning candidates and has had them for several months.

Although the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) provided a clear statement that there is no legal basis for conducting additional repetitive background checks, the NAPC statement was apparently not enough for some members and on Dec. 24, the commission again failed to conclude its work. 

This failure is not the result of disputes between the foreign and Ukrainian members of the commission. Nor is it the result of a dispute between the commission members appointed by the Verkhovna Rada and those appointed by the Council of Prosecutors. To the contrary, members of both groups have supported proposals that would allow for certification of the results.

For example, on Dec. 24, Bohdan Romaniuk, a member appointed by the parliament, introduced a compromise draft resolution that would have allowed for immediate certification of the results. Although this proposal was supported by all the commission members appointed by the Council of Prosecutors and four commission members appointed by the parliament, it still failed to pass.  

Read more: Panel head blocks appointment of anti-graft prosecutor, wants SBU to check winner

As noted above, the impasse appears to be the result of a mistaken belief by certain commission members that supplemental background checks on the winning candidates are now required. We believe that a clear statement from you that all the winning candidates have been checked and comply with all applicable legal requirements and that no additional background checks are required by Ukrainian law will be sufficient to convince all members of the commission to certify the results and approve their submission to you.

We believe that such a statement will finally allow the commission to complete its work successfully, but that absent such a statement the process may be further delayed. 

Roman Kuibida, Viacheslav Navrotskyi, Thomas Firestone, Drago Kos, Nona Tsotsoria.