EU, US, watch­dogs con­demn ex­pan­sion of e-dec­la­ra­tions

Kyiv Post - - National - KOVENSKY@KYIVPOST.COM

Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko’s signing of a law to re­quire non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions to de­clare as­sets in the same way as pub­lic of­fi­cials drew out­cry from for­eign coun­tries and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions sup­port­ing Ukraine.

In­ter­na­tional anti-cor­rup­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions ex­pressed their op­po­si­tion to the move. Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional Chief Jose Ugaz called for the pro­vi­sions to be “abol­ished im­me­di­ately,” say­ing in a state­ment: “These amend­ments are a vin­dic­tive re­tal­i­a­tion by law­mak­ers who are an­gry that they are re­quired to de­clare their wealth. There is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for sin­gling out anti-cor­rup­tion groups.”

Free­dom House, a Wash­ing­ton-based NGO that pro­motes democ­racy glob­ally, claimed that the change vi­o­lated stan­dards set by the Coun­cil of Europe which pre­vent “dis­crim­i­na­tory in­tru­sion” into civil so­ci­ety.

G7 state­ment

Am­bas­sadors from the G7 na­tions in Ukraine is­sued a state­ment this week con­demn­ing the law’s adop­tion af­ter meet­ing with Poroshenko on March 28.

The state­ment, phrased in diplo­matic language, sum­ma­rized the meet­ing. The am­bas­sadors men­tioned that they “specif­i­cally” raised is­sues re­lat­ing to the “fight against cor­rup­tion, par­tic­u­larly such as the ex­ten­sion of elec­tronic as­set dec­la­ra­tions to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of civil so­ci­ety.” A num­ber of em­bassies is­sued sep­a­rate state­ments. A Ger­man For­eign Min­istry spokesman said the law cre­ates “the im­pres­sion that in spite of of­fi­cial anti-cor­rup­tion pol­icy, mea­sures are be­ing taken against those place the fight against cor­rup­tion as their aim.”

The U. S. Em­bassy in Ukraine is­sued a state­ment on Twit­ter call­ing e-dec­la­ra­tions for se­nior pub­lic of­fi­cials “a strong step for­ward for re­form in Ukraine,” while de­cry­ing as a “step back­wards” the tar­get­ing of mem­bers of civil so­ci­ety who “play a vi­tal role for trans­parency.”

Aid with­drawal?

Ukrainian me­dia re­ports said that the U. S. Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment, the U. S. gov­ern­ment’s for­eign civil­ian as­sis­tance arm, de­cided to sus­pend co­op­er­a­tion with the Na­tional Agency for the Pre­ven­tion of Cor­rup­tion over the law. NAPC is tasked with ad­min­is­ter­ing and en­forc­ing the coun­try’s in­come and as­set dec­la­ra­tions.

The re­ports re­lied on a Face­book post by Deputy Justice Min­is­ter Rus­lan Rya­boshapka, who said that the new law was “in ac­tion” and that U.S. AID had sus­pended co­op­er­a­tion.

The next day, NAPC Chief Natalya Kor­chak de­nied Rya­boshapka’s claim, say­ing that co­op­er­a­tion was con­tin­u­ing and that fur­ther projects were be­ing dis­cussed.

USAID and NAPC have one on­go­ing project in­volv­ing the fi­nanc­ing of po­lit­i­cal par­ties, ac­cord­ing to the U. S. Em­bassy. A spokesman de­clined to say whether the em­bassy had can­celled its co­op­er­a­tion with NAPC. “We con­stantly re­view our as­sis­tance and how best to achieve shared goals,” the spokesman said.

Ac­tivists on March 28 protest pres­sure by the Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU) on YouCon­trol, a com­pany that mon­i­tors busi­ness data and cor­rup­tion. (Anas­ta­sia Vlasova) BY JOSH KOVENSKY

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