Thursday, December 8, 2022

Why is Ukraine still missing a chief anti-corruption prosecutor?

by Oleg SukhovNovember 22, 2021 2:06 am

This very important seat has been vacant since August 2020, when the previous top anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky resigned. Attempts to replace him have been repeatedly delayed and sabotaged by officials.

The next meeting of the panel choosing the chief anti-corruption prosecutor is scheduled for Nov. 25. Here’s what you need to know.

Why does it matter?

The chief anti-corruption prosecutor oversees all cases pursued by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). The selection of an independent professional who is free from political influence has been a key requirement of the European Union under its visa-free agreement with Ukraine.

Why has it been delayed?

Activists suggest that the attempts of authorities to take control of the competition are causing the delay.

The commission that selects the prosecutor consists of four foreign experts and seven people chosen by parliament.

The Anti-Corruption Action Center (ANTAC) has accused the parliamentary delegates of trying to promote shady government loyalists. When these attempts failed, the delegates began disrupting panel meetings to prevent an independent member from being chosen, according to ANTAC executive Vitaliy Shabunin.

In a comment to the Kyiv Independent, Kateryna Koval, head of the selection panel, blamed foreign experts for disrupting panel meetings. Drago Kos, one of the foreign experts, said the panel has faced political pressure.

Who remains in the running?

Only two candidates are left: NABU detective Oleksandr Klymenko and prosecutor Andriy Synyuk.

Klymenko’s candidate score is 212. ANTAC has praised him for investigating top officials. Synyuk, who has 195 points, is a direct subordinate of Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, which raises concerns about his independence.

On Oct. 28, Synyuk and Klymenko submitted a written assignment and must now pass the final interview.

What will happen next?

Shabunin believes that pro-government panel members will try to rig the selection by giving Synyuk a higher score.

According to Vitaly Tytych, former head of the civic watchdog Public Integrity Council, there is no guarantee that either candidate will be professional and independent due to the panel’s misplaced priorities.

Oleg Sukhov
Oleg Sukhov
Political reporter

Oleg Sukhov is a political reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He is a former editor and reporter at the Moscow Times. He has a master's degree in history from the Moscow State University. He moved to Ukraine in 2014 due to the crackdown on independent media in Russia and covered war, corruption, reforms and law enforcement for the Kyiv Post.

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