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Parliament passes bill on restoring electronic asset declarations for officials in first reading

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 27, 2023 8:22 PM 2 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the Ukrainian Parliament in Kyiv, Ukraine on Dec. 28, 2022. (Ukrainian President / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's Parliament passed in the first reading on July 27 a bill on the restoration of electronic declaration of assets for public officials, lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak reported on Telegram.

The e-declarations were instituted as part of the country's fight against corruption following the Euromaidan Revolution in 2014. All top state officials, including lawmakers, judges, local authorities, law enforcement, and military officials were required to declare their assets as part of the reform.

At the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the requirement for submitting e-declarations was suspended and public access to the declarations was shut down. Officials have still been able to submit them on a voluntary basis.

Since the suspension, there have been growing calls to resume the requirement. ‌‌Civic watchdogs say that the asset declaration system has been effectively destroyed, arguing that martial law was used as a pretext by corrupt officials.

In February 2023, an online petition for requiring state officials to resume filing their asset declarations collected the 25,000 signatures necessary for presidential consideration.

In response to the petition, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Feb. 22 that a bill had been registered by a member of the Parliament to resume the requirement.

Parliament's Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk called on lawmakers on July 26 to support the bill.

Restoring asset declarations has also been central to talks on Ukraine ascension to the European Union and borrowing money from the International Monetary Fund.

Earlier on July 27, Zheleznyak said that this most recent version of the asset declaration bill also envisages restoring public access to declarations without disclosing sensitive personal information about the officials during martial law.

Officials accused of using war as pretext for hiding ill-gotten wealth
As Ukrainian soldiers are defending their homeland on the front line, officials in the rear are accused of using the war as a pretext for hiding their wealth. They are able to do so because one of Ukraine’s main anti-corruption tools, the asset declaration system, has been effectively eliminated.

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