G7 ‘Alarmed’ By Ukraine ‘Undoing’ Anti-Graft Reforms
By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized countries says it is “alarmed” by the rollback of reforms in Ukraine after the Constitutional Court stripped the country’s anti-corruption agency of some of its critical powers.
“The G7 ambassadors are alarmed by efforts to undo the anti-corruption reforms that followed the Revolution of Dignity,” the group said in a statement on October 29, referring to the 2014 pro-Western Euromaidan uprising by its official name in Ukraine.
“Too much progress has been made, Ukraine must not go back to the past,” the statement adds.
In a ruling published on October 28, the Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional to hold officials criminally liable for intentionally providing false information on asset declarations. It also struck down several powers of the National Agency for Preventing Corruption (NAZK).
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on October 29 called an urgent meeting of the National Security Council, saying new bills should “immediately” be introduced to parliament to undo the damage caused by the court’s decision.
The court ruled the NAZK’s powers to verify asset declarations and monitor officials’ lifestyles for signs of corruption unconstitutional. Free public access to officials’ declarations was also made illegal, as was electronic declarations meant to increase transparency.
It also deprived the NAZK of the right to access registers, draft reports on violations, and conduct anti-corruption inspections in government agencies.
The decision could threaten visa liberalization with the European Union and impact reforms required under a $5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal Zelenskiy’s government secured in June to fight a sharp economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
But the IMF has held back tranches due to concerns over Ukraine’s performance in tackling corruption and implementing reforms.
Visa liberalization with the EU is also contingent on Ukraine fighting endemic corruption.
The court ruling is also controversial because four judges are under investigation by the NAZK for failing to properly declare assets in their declarations.
The four judges did not recuse themselves from the case, despite calls to do so from the government and anti-corruption campaigners.