On December 11, Agnieszka Piasecka, the Project Coordinator to support lustration and justice reform in Ukraine from Poland’s Open Dialog Foundation, presented an analysis of Ukraine’s lustration law in the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. Experts from Czech Republic, France, Poland, and other countres compared Ukraine’s bill “On Purification of Government” with European law, namely the Resolution 1096 that was adopted by the European Council in 1996 and that gives recommendations to post-communist countries wanting to part with the past.
Getting rid of corruption was one of the main demands of the Euromaidan revolution of 2013-2014. But the topic of lustration was brought to the surface as far back as 2004, during the Orange Revolution. Ukraine adopted a law on Lustration on 16 September 2014, following many amendments. It sets out the goal to cleanse Ukraine’s government of corrupt officials with the following specifics:
- lustration is to be done under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, which will be in turn supported and controlled by a Public Lustration Committee.
- the head of each regional administration is to be responsible for the lustration process in their institution;
- each candidate for a civil servant position will be obliged to fill out a lustration declaration, answering to questions about sources of income and participation in active measures against Euromaidan participants.
- only three top levels of public officials throughout state administration and only non-elected civil servants are subject to lustration.
President Petro Poroshenko signed the law despite claiming that complex anti-corruption measures are a better solution for a country in a state of armed conflict, and noted that this piece of legislature may be amended after receiving recommendations from the Venice Committee.
The old political system resists any lustration, Euromaidan activists insist that it should be much harsher
The law immediately gathered opponents from the political establishment that lost power after Euromaidan (members of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, Communists, and a number of other MPs). Maskym Mankovsky, a member of the Public Lustration Committee, claims that it was the old political powers clinging to power that submitted the Lustration Law to the Venice committee: “there are citizens who are against this law and lustration itself. They want the old system to stay, and our law is breaking it. Those people have applied to the Venice Commission.” Yury Derevyanko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada responsible for amending the law taking into account the Comission’s suggestions, told KyivPost that Ukraine was represented at the commission by people who are themselves subject to lustration that are “doing their best to completely destroy the lustration law,” referring to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions members Serhiy Kivalov and Volodymyr Pylypenko.
Deputy chairman of the Lustration NGO Oleksandr Kulikovski says that Kivalov, who gained notoriety heading the Central Elections Commission during the 2004 presidential election when voting fraud led to the Orange Revolution, is able to represent Ukraine at the Venice Commission in the first place because the Lustration Law version that was adopted wasn’t harsh enough in the first place, and that his group will demand a harsher lustration.
Serhii Ivanov, another member of the Public Lustration Committee, claims that “Ukrainian opponents of lustration don’t give any sensible arguments, they even confuse the terms. In reality, it is a total sabotage of the law about purification of this sabotage has been inspired by people who represent the regime of Yanukovych.”
Open Dialog’s criticism concurs with remarks by the Venice Commission
The Open Dialog Foundation’s report on lustration in Ukraine has many positive notes, claiming that it has gone all the way from a social postulation through the legislative path down to its implementation; it has also started to yield its first effects in the form of numerous resignations of, in all likelihood, strongly corrupt public officials
However, the experts involved believe that the lustration process will be more effective if an independent institution to deal with it would be established. It would be hard to maintain control over the process if it is to be done in a decentralized manner, considers Agnieszka Piasecka: this will limit the abilities of heads of public administrations and judges to manipulation information. The experts also insist that elective posts should not get off the hook: in the Ukrainian political context the opaque elective legislature allows voting for party lists and not for a specific candidate; therefore, being elected doesn’t mean having societal support. Another issue to pay attention to are conflicts with other existing laws and to make sure that the lustration carries an individual character, i.e. that persons would be judged based on their trespassings and not on the evils of colleagues in the same positions.
The Venice Commission has also issued recommendations on improving the Law on December 12, and the main points reiterate the expert assessment of the Open Dialog foundation, namely – the need to establish an independent institution that would be responsible for the process, and to ensure that collective responsibility is to be avoided.
The lustration process in Ukraine today is done in the course of 4-6 months, while for maximum effectiveness it should take only 7-10 days. Up to date, only 350 civil servants have been lustrated. Overall, the Lustration law has up do date yielded meager results, with the SBU, Justice Ministry, and Poroshenko being accused of sabotaging the process.
Representatives of Lustration Committee will distribute the report by Open Dialog Foundation among activists in the Ukrainian regions, as it summarizes well the entire work process of lustration.The Open Dialog Foundation was established on the initiative of Lyudmyla Kozlovska (currently the President of the Foundation) in Poland in 2009. The Foundation was set up on the basis of experiences gained and contacts developed during the period of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and thereafter, through international activities and cooperation with Ukrainian student organisations and citizens’ movements. The Foundation devotes special attention to the largest countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States: Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.