To Fight or Not to Fight Corruption – New Anti-Corruption Organism of Ukraine (Part I/II)

Years 2014-2015 following the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine have been marked by an enormous demand of changes for the better by Ukrainian society. Public interests coupled with requirements of the EU for cancellation of visa regime for Ukrainian citizens resulted in a massive anti-corruption campaign in Ukraine. This has driven adoption of extensive anti-bribery laws and, more importantly, a number of notable arrests on corruption charges of current and former top government officials.

The first results of this anti-corruption campaign have been reported by Ukrainian top officials (including the President and the Prime Minister) and widely discussed during the first (and hopefully to become annual) Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the Ukrainian government in November 2015 in Kyiv. Please refer to one of our previous posts for major takeaways from this event.

Furthermore, three anti-corruption forums organized by the community (but widely associated with Odessa region Governor and former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili) took place in Ukraine: in December 2015 in Odessa and Kyiv, and in January 2016 in Kharkiv.

But what is the major achievement of a rising corruption-fighting era in Ukraine so far? I think many would agree that it is establishment of new anti-corruption bodies. Just to refresh your memory, this process began in October 2014 with the adoption of the number of laws (On Corruption Prevention and On National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine) and Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2014-2017.

Reading news and legislation on establishment of each new anti-corruption body during 2015, I thought it might be useful for everyone, including myself, to structure all the information in order to have a comprehensive picture of the framework of Ukrainian anti-corruption authorities. I believe that my efforts will help you to gain better understanding of now extensive anti-corruption bodies’ landscape in Ukraine.

This post deals with three most important anti-corruption authorities all of which have been established during the last year and some of them started actively operating in the end of 2015.

Probably, the most expected anti-corruption authority is National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). NABU’s objective is to investigate corruption offences among the highest level government officials or offences by other persons above certain money threshold (around UAH 700k). Head of NABU, Mr. Artem Sytnyk, has been appointed on April, 16, 2015, but NABU became fully operational only after appointment of the Head of Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office in the end of 2015.

Initially, I planned to make my post very much practical and provide you with links to websites of all anti-corruption authorities. But it appeared that only a few bodies, including NABU, have their websites. Website of NABU is available in English as well. NABU also has a page on Facebook launched in spring 2015 with around 6,000 likes so far that provides a good overview of NABU’s activities and news in anti-corruption area. By the way, browsing through the posts on NABU’s page I’ve revealed that it captures editors of this blog during the discussion with NABU Head Artem Sytnyk at the referred Anti-Corruption Conference in 2015, maybe you will find yourself there, too.

The second most expected anti-corruption authority is Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO), which provides NABU with the procedural assistance and supports state prosecution of corruption charges in the court. It has been established in September 2015 as an autonomous unit of the General Prosecutor’s Office. Head of SAPO, Mr. Nazar Kholodnytskyi, took up his position in the late November, 2015. Mr. Kholodnytskyi has announced some resonant arrests during 2016 winter holidays, but it seems that something interfered with these plans as the media are silent on this topic so far. 

Another body with mostly prevention functions, National Corruption Prevention Agency (NCPA) has been established in March 2015 as a central governmental body with special status. It consists of five members elected by an open contest. Many see NCPA as the body which main function will be checking declarations of government officials and their families; however, it has way wider powers, including observing anti-corruption compliance in the private sector. In December 2015, three members of NCPA (the minimum number required for NCPA to operate) have been elected: Nataliya Korchak, Viktor Chumak and Oleksandr Skopych. The government expects NCPA to start its activity in the next month.

In my next post, I will provide an overview of the rest of anti-corruption bodies of Ukraine and their role in Ukrainian anti-corruption organism. So, stay tuned and be compliant!