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Zelensky vetoes controversial bill on online asset declarations

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 12, 2023 10:44 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 7, 2023. (Source: Volodymyr Zelensky / Telegram)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky vetoed the bill by the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's Parliament, that would prolong restrictions on electronic asset declarations for public officials, the president announced on Sept. 12.

"Declarations must be open. At once. Not in a year. The registry should be opened now," Zelensky said on his Telegram channel.

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, passed a bill on Sept. 5 to restore the requirement for top officials to declare their assets, an anti-corruption measure central to talks on Ukraine's accession to the European Union.

However, the Rada made a number of amendments, one of which meant that there would be no public access to officials' asset declarations for one more year, and only law enforcement agencies would be able to check them.

The system of compulsory asset declarations was originally instituted as part of the country's fight against corruption following the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution. All declarations were open to the public, a level of transparency especially important for journalists and civil society.

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.

Members of the European Parliament appealed to Zelensky to veto the bill, fearing it would undermine trust in reforms. A petition launched on Sept. 6 asked the president to demand the Rada to change the law so that asset declarations are publicly accessible.

Petition asking Zelensky to veto asset declarations law passes threshold for presidential consideration
A petition asking President Volodymyr Zelensky to veto the draft law on asset declarations has reached more than 35,000 signatures since it was posted earlier in the day on Sept. 6.
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