The Battle Between Law Enforcement Institutions in Ukraine

Verkhovna Rada, ukranian parliament in Kyiv. Photo by: Віктор Полянко.

KYIV, Ukraine (ViaNews) – After the Revolution of Dignity, which took place from November 2013 until February 2014, it became crucial for the Ukrainian society to create the new institutions that would fight the corruption in the country. The first institution of this kind was the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.

The creation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine was one of the major requirements of the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission for the liberalization of the visa regime between Ukraine and the European Union.

On October 14, 2014, the Verkhovna Rada (parliament of Ukraine) adopted the law on the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine.

In January 2015, for the first time in the history of modern Ukraine, an open competition for the vacancy of the head of a state body was announced. 186 candidates for the post of Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine filed their documents. The winner was Artem Sitnik.

On April 16, 2015, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, signed two decrees: on the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and about the appointment of Artem Sitnik as Director of the Bureau. Thus, from that time the history of NABU has begun.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine became a state law enforcement agency, which was responsible for preventing, detecting, terminating, investigating, and disclosing corruption offenses attributed to its jurisdiction, as well as preventing the commission of new ones. The purpose of the National Bureau was to counter the criminal corruption offenses committed by senior officials authorized to perform state or local government functions and endangering national security.

For today, NABU has shown spectacular results: 371 criminal proceedings were conducted by the detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, 121 individuals were convicted, 78 criminal proceedings were transferred to the court and they are now dealt with in essence, and 16 cases have court decisions that have come to legal effect. 136 million UAH (Ukrainian hryvnia) of damages were reimbursed in those proceedings, which were transferred to court, theft of 879 million UAH was reported. NABU succeeded to investigate the corruption schemes where the highest Ukrainian officials were involved.

However, the situation is straightforward. Firstly, many proceedings opened by NABU did not lead to the imprisonment of the corruptionists. The main reason for that – all the criminal cases are still considered in the ordinary courts which contributes to wrongful conclusions and sentences, due to the huge problems in the judiciary system in Ukraine.

The only solution for this case is the creation of the Anticorruption Court that would specialize only in the litigations connected with the corruption. However, the Ukrainian president, Petro Poroshenko, promised to give the law about Anticorruption Court for the consideration in the Parliament only one week ago. Thus, the creation of this court is postponed for an unknown period of time.

Secondly, there are still many senior officials authorized to perform state or local government functions involved in the corruption schemes. General Prosecutor of Ukraine, The Security Service of Ukraine, The Ministry of Internal Affairs – all those institutions connected with the money laundering, unlawful benefits from the unfair court sentences, and cronyism.

For instance, at the end of November, General Prosecutor of Ukraine and the Security Service disrupted NABU’s secret operation and arrested its detective. For seven months the bureau’s detective was trying to expose the criminal group that illegally provided the foreigners with the Ukrainian citizenship.

The head executive of State Migration Service, Dina Pimakhova, was the leading person in this criminal group. The undercover agent asked Mrs. Pimakhova to illegally provide the Iranian businessman with the Ukrainian passport. The woman agreed and named the sum of the bribe – 30 000 euro. This moment was captured in the video. However, at the final stage of the operation, the officers of Security Service arrested NABU’s agent while he was giving the bribe to Mrs. Pimakhova. Their argumentation was that it is illegal to provoke the state officials by giving them bribes. As a result, NABU detective was arrested, while Mrs. Pimakhova became the witness.

Some argue this situation has political motives. One week after this sudden event, Verkhovna Rada (parliament) registered the law project that allowed to fire NABU’s head, Artem Sitnik without any audit of the external parties. The Ukrainians, as well as, the international society called such law project “NABU’s murder”. The representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Great Britain, European Union, International Monetary Fund, US Department of State, FBI, and the ambassadors of G7 countries opposed such law.

Luckily, a few days later the project was postponed. Nonetheless, it demonstrated the unpleasant tendency in the relations between old and new enforcement institutions in Ukraine and showed that there are still many officials who strongly reject the anti-corruption direction of Ukraine.

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