On 16 September, the Verkhovna adopted the lustration bill “On the purging of the government.” Over 231 MPs voted for the document – on the third try.
From early morning, about four hundred activists from several political parties, including Svoboda, Hromadska Posytsia, Volia and the Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) gathered in front of the parliament, demanding that the MPs adopted the bill.
Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov put bill №5085, “On the system of special commissioners in combating corruption,” to the vote twice; however, the bill failed to garner the required number of votes. Mr. Turchynov warned legislators that he would publicize the names of those who did not vote for the bill, and essentially, the actual lustration legislation.
“I will have the names of deputies who did not vote for these laws published in the [official bulletin] Voice of Ukraine for everyone to know who really fights for the purge of government, and who is hiding from the people of Ukraine,” Oleksandr Turchynov warned the legislators sternly.
However belatedly, the legislators were made acquainted with the comparative table of the bill, which has undergone over 400 amendments since its adoption.
MP Leonid Yemets admitted that the Committee on State Building and Local Self-Government has failed to gather three times for the lack of quorum: “We do not have a resolution of the related parliamentary committee, because the parliament is heading for a restart, so the representatives from Party of Regions and the Communist Party refuse to attend the committee and express their opinions and comments, thereby undermining the quorum. The relevant committee, headed by David Zhvania [Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on State Building and Local Self-Government], has repeatedly failed to convene because there was no quorum.”
Despite the fact that the committee failed to discuss the amendments, Oleksandr Turchynov said that a working group still considered two amendments, proposed to consider the law on the amendments.
Non-faction People’s Deputy Yuri Derevyanko told the House about the amendments to the bill under consideration: “Compared to the bill adopted in the first reading, the document has undergone considerable changes. We eliminated the provisions that contradict the current Constitution, including those regarding elected officials. All provisions pertaining to so-called “associated persons” were narrowed down to “cohabitants.” On an annual basis, for the purposes of anti-corruption, we will all have to submit declarations of income and assets for ourselves and for those that includes those living in the same home as us. The law provides that tax inspection cannot adopt a negative opinion [about an official’s law abidance] without previously sending him or her all their observations. The final decision is made only after the person in question provides all explanations,” MP Yuri Derevyanko told the parliament.
Anna Herman, from Party of Regions, urged her fellow MPs that the professionals from Viktor Yanukovych’s team should not be exposed to lustration, regardless of whether they still hold their posts or not: “They are truly professional people. They include a military prosecutor who worked in the administration of the president, a former Minister of Economy, and other people.” She promised that her faction would vote for the lustration laws. While there are 77 MPs in the faction, 64 were absent, and only ten of the thirteen present gave support to the bill. The Communists were conspicuously absent as well.
“When the vote is secret, everyone declares their readiness to vote. And where are they when the vote is open? Let’s be honest with ourselves,” Svoboda’s Oleksandr Myrny stated indignantlyo.
Black smoke over parliament
After two unsuccessful attempts to push the bill through, the speaker threatened not to release the house until the MPs voted. He urged members to convene those parliamentarians who were absent. “Call your colleagues and have them come over,” Turchynov urged the legislators, again threatening to make the names of the absentees public.
The activists surrounding the parliament began clashing with the riot police guarding the building. They set fire to dozens of car tires and piled them on the fence on Hrushevskoho Street.
According to the press service of the metropolitan police, two civilians got injured in the clashes.
In addition, criminal proceedings were launched in connection with an attack on a National Guard trooper.
Previous legislation in Ukraine did not provide guidance for a lustration procedure; nevertheless, it was one of the central demands of the Euromaidan.
After the enactment of the bill, MP Leonid Yemets reported that President Poroshenko was ready to sign the bill into law. “I saw the President today and asked him if he plans to support the law. He said he will sign it right away,” Leonid Yemets announced.
Meanwhile, the head of Lustration Committee Yehor Sobolev believes that the main challenge is to make this law work: “I know better than any one of you how much effort has been put against this law. There is not a single party in this parliament, not a single political force, not a single high-ranking official who would want this law to be adopted. They did their best for this law not to exist. But we defeated them. However, our main victory is not the adoption of this document, but that we, the people, made this possible: MPs have to vote for what people say. This is what the Maidan was about. We did an incredible thing – we pushed this law through, now we need to do an even more incredible thing: ensure its implementation,” said Yegor Sobolev.
What’s in the law?
The draft law “On the purging of the government” provides the legal and organizational basis for “procedures for conducting checks of government officials and people nominated for government position with the purpose of deciding whether they meet certain criteria for occupying the relevant post.” After the scrutiny, it became clear that certain government officials were leaders of the Communist and Komsomol organizations of the Soviet Union, were associated with the KGB, and were government employees who went to KGB schools.
The law also provides for the release of all the leaders, starting with the district heads who worked during the period from 25 February 2010 to 22 February 2014 and have not submitted their resignations. This includes the Head of State, Prime Minister, ministers, heads of almost all executive agencies, the Security Service, the National Bank, the State Property Fund, members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges and the High Council of Justice. However, the current President, Petro Poroshenko, will not be subject to lustration.
Also, the draft law provides for the removal from power of people who by word or action supported any encroachments on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as all government officials who cannot explain the origins of their property and assets, or those of their family members.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau flop
Parliament failed to initiate the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, envisaged in the bill №5085 “On the system of special commissioners for combating corruption.”
Deputies gave only 218 votes for this document.
The bill, registered by the President as “urgent,” was drafted by the Cabinet together with experts of the anti-corruption group “Intensive Care Reform Package.”The National Anti-Corruption Bureau, according to the bill, would have to combat corruption among top-rank officials, namely ministers, prosecutors, senior military officers, heads of large state-owned enterprises, MPs, judges etc.
The bill’s adoption by the end of October is one of the key requirements of the IMF concerning provisions of the third tranche of financial assistance to Ukraine.
Mykola Myrny, No to Corruption!