Ed­i­tors’ Note Law­maker Ye­gor Sobolev ex­plains why he is lead­ing drive to dump Shokin

Ye­gor Sobolev, the law­maker lead­ing the charge to fire the pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral, says that Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko is re­sist­ing be­cause “loy­alty is more im­por­tant for Poroshenko than real erad­i­ca­tion of cor­rup­tion.”

Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly - - Contents - By Oleg Sukhov reaganx84@gmail.com

This sev­enth is­sue of the Le­gal Quar­terly is de­voted to three themes – or three Ps: prose­cu­tors, pri­va­ti­za­tion, pro­cure­ment. Th­ese are key ar­eas for Ukraine’s fu­ture.

In the first one, prose­cu­tors, all is not well. More than 110 law­mak­ers led by Ye­gor Sobolev are call­ing on Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko to fire Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Vik­tor Shokin. Not only has Shokin failed to pros­e­cute high-level crime in Ukraine, but crit­ics call him the chief ob­struc­tion­ist to jus­tice and ac­cuse him of tol­er­at­ing cor­rup­tion within his ranks. “They want to spear­head cor­rup­tion, not fight it,” Sobolev said of Shokin’s team. The top pros­e­cu­tor has never agreed to be in­ter­viewed by the Kyiv Post.

As for the sec­ond one, pri­va­ti­za­tion, this refers to the 3,000 state-owned en­ter­prises that con­tinue to bleed money – more than $5 bil­lion alone last year – through mis­man­age­ment and cor­rup­tion. But large-scale pri­va­ti­za­tion is not likely to hap­pen soon, at least un­til a new law on pri­va­ti­za­tion is passed by par­lia­ment. The aim is to have pub­lic, trans­par­ent, com­pet­i­tive ten­ders – not just tele­vised ones. The law, re­form­ers say, needs to pre­vent cur­rent state di­rec­tors from loot­ing com­pa­nies that are sold and en­sure both state and in­vestor rights.

As for the third one, pro­cure­ment, much more progress has been com­ing in terms of e-pro­cure­ment aimed at com­pet­i­tive and trans­par­ent state pur­chases of goods and ser­vices. If suc­cess­ful, it could elim­i­nate a big black hole of cor­rup­tion into which more than $2.3 bil­lion in tax­payer money is lost through over­pric­ing and need­less in­ter­me­di­aries.

The three Ps – prose­cu­tors, pri­va­ti­za­tion, pro­cure­ment – show the bat­tle for Ukraine’s fu­ture rages on, with the na­tion's 43 mil­lion peo­ple hav­ing huge stakes in the out­come of all three con­tests.

In July, Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Vik­tor Shokin an­nounced with great fan­fare that a court had au­tho­rized the trial in ab­sen­tia for dis­graced ex-pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych.

But, al­most two years af­ter the Euromaidan Rev­o­lu­tion be­gan, not a sin­gle in­dict­ment in cor­rup­tion cases against the former pres­i­dent or his al­lies has been sent to court.

Ye­gor Sobolev, a law­maker from the Samopomich party and chair­man of the Verkhovna Rada’s anti-cor­rup­tion com­mit­tee, be­lieves that Shokin is stalling all high-pro­file in­ves­ti­ga­tions and cov­er­ing up cor­rupt prose­cu­tors.

The only way out is to re­place Shokin, a loy­al­ist of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, with a truly in­de­pen­dent pros­e­cu­tor able to de­liver im­par­tial jus­tice, Sobolev says.

An­driy Demartino, a spokesman for the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice, de­clined to com­ment.

In­ef­fi­ciency and sab­o­tage at the Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral’s Of­fice has got­ten out of hand to such

an ex­tent that even diplo­mats are us­ing tough lan­guage.

Ge­of­frey R. Py­att, the U.S. am­bas­sador to Ukraine, said on Sept. 24 that “cor­rupt ac­tors” un­der Shokin “are mak­ing things worse by openly and ag­gres­sively un­der­min­ing re­form.”

This damn­ing in­dict­ment of Shokin’s per­for­mance since he was ap­pointed in Fe­bru­ary has given a boost to ef­forts by Sobolev and civil so­ci­ety to fire him.

Sobolev has so far col­lected 114 sig­na­tures in par­lia­ment for dis­miss­ing Shokin, still well short of the 150 sig­na­tures needed to put the is­sue on the agenda.

He said in an in­ter­view with the Kyiv Post that not a sin­gle sig­na­ture has been col­lected since the Sept. 17 ar­rest of Rad­i­cal Party law­maker Ihor Mosiy­chuk on sus­pi­cion of bribery. Crit­ics see the ar­rest as po­lit­i­cal re­venge by Shokin for Mosiy­chuk’s sup­port for his fir­ing.

“Af­ter Ihor’s ar­rest ev­ery­one started think­ing ‘what if this hap­pens to me to­mor­row’?” Sobolev said. “One of Shokin’s goals is to show to law­mak­ers what con­se­quences could hap­pen to those who sub­mit sig­na­tures for his dis­missal.”

He at­trib­uted the slow pace of the drive to oust Shokin to a lack of prin­ci­pled law­mak­ers.

Many law­mak­ers are re­luc­tant to back the sack­ing of Shokin be­cause they are part of the sys­tem that cov­ers up cor­rup­tion, Sobolev said.

The pres­i­dent re­fuses to fire Shokin be­cause “loy­alty is more im­por­tant for Poroshenko than real erad­i­ca­tion of cor­rup­tion,” Sobolev says.

Shokin was a pro­tégé of Poroshenko as early as 2005, when he was a deputy pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral, ac­cord­ing to Sobolev. At that time Shokin told Sobolev, then a jour­nal­ist, that Ser­hiy Ki­valov and other mem­bers of the Cen­tral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion ac­cused of vote rig­ging in fa­vor of Yanukovych in the 2004 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion would be soon con­victed.

“Th­ese cases didn’t lead to con­vic­tions,” Sobolev said. “This is the main rea­son why we voted against his ap­point­ment as pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral. Un­for­tu­nately his work proved that we were right.”

Shokin’s choice of four peo­ple for the com­mis­sion to se­lect the chief anti-cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tor also proves that he is not

Mariana Antonovych Kyiv Post Le­gal Af­fairs Reporter All of our con­tacts are avail­able on­line at http://www.kyivpost.com/con­tacts/

Brian Bon­ner Kyiv Post Chief Editor

Euan Macdon­ald Kyiv Post Editor

Deputy prose­cu­tors Davit Sak­vare­lidze (C) and Vi­taliy Kasko (R) lis­ten to chair­man of the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee for pre­vent­ing and fight­ing cor­rup­tion Ye­gor Sobolev at the Verkhovna Rada’s anti-cor­rup­tion com­mit­tee on July 15. (Volodymyr Petrov)

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