Tainted judges to dom­i­nate new Supreme Court

Kyiv Post - - National - BY OLEG SUKHOV AND OKSANA GRYTSENKO

More than 20 per­cent -- 25 of the 111 judges ap­pointed by the High Coun­cil of Jus­tice to the new Supreme Court -- do not meet eth­i­cal stan­dards and are deemed cor­rupt or dis­hon­est, ac­cord­ing to the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil, a civil so­ci­ety watch­dog.

Apart from these, the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil has con­cerns about the in­tegrity of about 60 more Supreme Court judges.

Court cor­rup­tion

One of the most con­tro­ver­sial new judges of the Supreme Court is Bo­hdan Lvov, chair­man of the High Com­mer­cial Court and re­port­edly the fron­trun­ner to be­come the Supreme Court’s chair­man.

The Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil, cit­ing its sources, called Lvov a “place­holder of Vik­tor Tatkov,” the ex-chair­man of the High Com­mer­cial Court, who has been ac­cused of spear­head­ing a large-scale cor­rup­tion scheme – a claim de­nied by Lvov.

Tatkov and his ex-deputy Ar­tur Yemelyanov have been charged with in­flu­enc­ing court rul­ings by il­le­gally in­ter­fer­ing in the au­to­matic dis­tri­bu­tion of cases dur­ing the rule of ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych.

The High Com­mer­cial Court’s judges, in­clud­ing Lvov, voted to ef­fec­tively get rid of the au­to­matic dis­tri­bu­tion of court cases by as­sign­ing just one judge to each ju­di­cial spe­cial­iza­tion, which would al­low Tatkov and Yemelyanov to hand­pick judges for cases that they wanted to profit from, ac­cord­ing to the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil.

Vi­taly Ty­tych, a mem­ber of the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil, be­lieves that this makes Lvov and other High Com­mer­cial Court judges ac­com­plices in the Tatkov-Yemelyanov case.

Lvov, who at the time of the al­leged crime was one of the judges work­ing un­der Tatkov, has been in­ves­ti­gated in the case but has not been charged. How­ever, he didn’t co­op­er­ate with in­ves­ti­ga­tors, the coun­cil said. Lvov de­nied com­mit- ting any vi­o­la­tions when he voted for judges’ spe­cial­iza­tion and said he was co­op­er­at­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Tatkov and Yemelyanov de­nied all ac­cu­sa­tions of wrong­do­ing. Yemelyanov’s wife has been found to have 13 mil­lion Swiss francs on ac­counts in Liecht­en­stein.

When Tatkov left his post, Lvov, who re­placed him as chair­man of the High Com­mer­cial Court, helped to main­tain Tatkov’s in­flu­ence on the court’s judges, ac­cord­ing to the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil.

Lvov kept Tatkov’s place­men, gave Tatkov a lux­ury of­fice, and did not ini­ti­ate the sus­pen­sion of judges who were in­volved in Tatkov’s al­leged cor­rup­tion schemes, the coun­cil added.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil, Tatkov schemed to make Lvov his suc­ces­sor as the court chair­man af­ter the EuroMaidan Rev­o­lu­tion over­turned Yanukovych’s regime in 2014.

Lvov took care of his pre­de­ces­sor: The Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil be­lieves that Lvov fal­si­fied the con­clu­sion that Tatkov is not sub­ject to lus­tra­tion un­der the law on the dis­missal of top of­fi­cials who served ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych. Tatkov was fired un­der the lus­tra­tion law in 2016 and fled the coun- try the same year.

Lvov said he did not have the right to an­a­lyze whether lus­tra­tion ap­plied to Tatkov, and dis­missed ac­cu­sa­tions of wrong­do­ing.

The Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil’s Ty­tych says that the Se­cu­rity Ser­vice of Ukraine, or SBU, is cov­er­ing up for Tatkov, Yemelyanov and Lvov, and is car­ry­ing out sur­veil­lance over in­ves­ti­ga­tors who are pur­su­ing the case. The SBU did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

“If (the in­ves­ti­ga­tors) touch these jack­als, they’ll be de­stroyed,” Ty­tych says. “Pres­sure is so high on them and will be even worse if they touch Lvov or some of the ap­pointed Supreme Court judges.”

Lvov is also un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion in a crim­i­nal case against High Coun­cil of Jus­tice mem­ber Pavlo Grechkivsky, who has been charged with fraud, but who voted for Supreme Court can­di­dates none­the­less, ac­cord­ing to a court rul­ing and tes­ti­mony given by an in­ter­me­di­ary charged in the case. Ac­cord­ing to the tes­ti­mony, Grechkivsky has promised to help in a le­gal dis­pute with Lvov’s as­sis­tance for $500,000.

Lvov said the tes­ti­mony was a lie, although he has ad­mit­ted be­ing ac­quainted with Grechkivsky. New Supreme Court judges Vy­ach­eslav Nas­tavny and Ser­hiy Slynko par­tic­i­pated in the po­lit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion of Yuriy Lut­senko, now pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral, and the Pav­ly­chenko fam­ily un­der ex-Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych.

The Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights and the Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly of the Coun­cil of Europe have ruled that there were le­gal vi­o­la­tions in the Lut­senko case. The Euro­pean Union’s par­lia­ment and five EU am­bas­sadors have rec­og­nized the Lut­senko case as po­lit­i­cal, while in 2014 the Verkhovna Rada passed a law to re­ha­bil­i­tate Lut­senko and oth­ers as po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

Maidan cases

New Supreme Court judge Larysa Moroz lied in her as­set dec­la­ra­tion in 2016, not men­tion­ing that she in­her­ited in 2013 a 56-square-me­ter house, which she later sold, ac­cord­ing to the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil.

Moroz has also can­celed the High Coun­cil of Jus­tice’s de­ci­sion to fire two judges who or­dered the un­law­ful ar­rest of EuroMaidan ac­tivists, the coun­cil said.

Another new judge of the Supreme Court, Iryna Sapryk­ina, lied in her as­set dec­la­ra­tion by not in­clud­ing the prop­erty of her daugh­ter, the Pub­lic In­tegrity Coun­cil said. She also banned peace­ful as­sem­blies in Kyiv in 2013.

Good judges

Very few new Supreme Court judges stand out as no­table ex­cep­tions, hav­ing good rep­u­ta­tions.

One of them is Dmytro Hudyma, who teaches law at the Na­tional Lviv Univer­sity. The Pub­lic In­tegrity coun­cil found no vi­o­la­tions in his as­set dec­la­ra­tions and said he is well-known as a pro bono hu­man rights lawyer.

Another is Olek­sandr Ma­maluy, who was a judge of the Com­mer­cial Court of Kharkiv Oblast when he was drafted into the army in March 2014 fol­low­ing Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Crimea. Ma­maluy served as a sniper in the war zone and won a medal for courage.

Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Yuriy Lut­senko sits for trial in Pech­ersk District Court in Kyiv on Aug. 17, 2012. Lut­senko was sen­tenced to four years in jail in a case which the Coun­cil of Europe later found be­ing po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. Lut­senko’s sen­tence was en­dorsed by two judges se­lected on Sept. 29 for the new Ukrainian Supreme Court. (UNIAN)

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