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Zelensky to consult with European integration minister on asset declaration law central to EU accession talks

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 6, 2023 6:54 PM 1 min read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis after signing an agreement at Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, on Aug. 21, 2023. (Photo by Costas Baltas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will decide whether to veto a draft law on asset declarations after consultations with Olha Stefanishyna, the deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, he told journalists on Sept. 6.

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

On Sept. 5, the Ukrainian parliament approved the second reading of a bill to restore asset declarations for officials but failed to ensure the declarations would be made public.

Anti-corruption watchdogs and opposition lawmakers argue that the EU and IMF are unlikely to accept the bill in this form.

This is because there will be no public access to officials' asset declarations for one more year, and only law enforcement agencies will be able to check them. They will not be accessible to media and anti-corruption watchdogs under the current version of the law.

Ukraine's National Corruption Prevention Agency (NACP) said it would appeal to the president to veto the draft law.

Transparency International Ukraine, an anti-corruption watchdog, said the bill is a "sham" restoration of declarations.

"Our foreign partners are unlikely to consider these actions by parliament as a real step towards European integration and effective cooperation with the IMF," the watchdog said.

Electronic asset declarations for officials were instituted as part of the country's fight against corruption following the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution.

All state officials were required to declare their assets as part of the reform.

At the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, 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.

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.

The bill on the restoration of asset declarations was passed in the first reading on July 27. To become law, bills must be passed by parliament in two readings and signed by the president.

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