Work of Ukraine’s Health Ministry unblocked, but Suprun still under threat of dismissal

The court decided to cancel its previous decision which forbade Suprun from performing her duties. Photo: ru.tsn.ua 

Reforms, Ukraine

After Ukraine’s acting Health Minister Uliana Suprun was suspended by a court decision on 5 February, the consequences were manifold. First, the work of the crucial ministry was blocked. Second, the problems in Ukraine’s judiciary were yet again underlined. Third, numerous political discussions were raised. The scandal over the decision became international.

The decision forbidding Suprun from performing her duties of acting Health Minister was made by Kyiv’s District Administrative Court and was related to a lawsuit by Ihor Mosiychuk, an MP from the Radical Party of Oleh Liashko. Later, various ministers and President Petro Poroshenko expressed their support for Suprun. The Ministry of Justice filed a petition against the decision of the court.

Read also: Ukrainian court suspends duties of reform-minded acting Health Minister Uliana Suprun. What gives?

On February 11, numerous supporters of the suspended acting Health Minister gathered near the court building where the petition was considered. However, the decision did not come fast. While the court was taking its time, the work of the ministry was blocked.

The government intervened. On the night of 13 February, the Cabinet of Ministers approved an order allowing Suprun to perform the duties of acting Health Minister, finally letting her sign documents on the allocation of medicines and vaccines.

In particular, the government allowed Suprun to temporarily implement the duties of the head of the Ministry, except for determining the political priorities and strategic directions of the institution. Also, she is not allowed to vote at government meetings.

After that, the court stated in a FB post post that by its decision, the government recognized that the court’s prohibition had substantial reasons.

The next day, the court decided to cancel its previous decision which forbade Suprun from performing her duties. The judge stated that he canceled the decision on his own initiative. According to the court, the clarifications of the Cabinet of Ministers on the duties Suprun can perform eliminate the contradiction which was the reason for the prohibition.

However, the fight is not over. On 15 February, the court will review the merits of the case. Before, it had considered only the preliminary measures, explained Bohdan Sanin, speaker of the court.

For 15 February, activists announced a protest rally titled “25 million Ukrainians summoned to court together with Suprun.”

What happened while Suprun was suspended?

On February 11, numerous supporters of the suspended acting Health Minister gathered near the court building where the petition was considered. Photo: news.liga.net.

While the court was considering the decision, Suprun described the consequences of her suspension:

  • 390,000 doses of measles vaccine and 954,000 of polio vaccine were not delivered to the regions;
  • Drugs with a 21-day shelf life remained at the stores, including those for HIV/AIDS antivirus therapy, the treatment of tuberculosis, breast cancer, and thyroid cancer;
  • 6,000 drugs were in the process of re-registration, and 7,000 – of registration. Over 150 types of drugs completed the verification cycle and were waiting for a decision. Because it was postponed, there is a risk that some drugs will disappear from pharmacies those which remain might become more expensive;
  • The strategy of the development of higher medical education was not considered on the government meeting;
  • The construction of a children’s hospital was blocked because the technical task was not signed;
  • Changes which should be implemented in April-June 2019 are now also under threat.

Meanwhile in the court

Radical Party MP Ihor Mosiychuk (left). Photo: news.liga.net.

Suprun’s supporters were waiting for this decision on 11 February and it appeared only on 14 February.

The court’s speaker Sanin stated that judge Serhiy Karakashiyan remained in the meeting room for 25 hours. According to the speaker, this long time is normal when a judge explores new circumstances because they can change while he is in the meeting room.

In the verdict, the judge noted that the court decided to cancel the decision on its own initiative.

On February 13, the Cabinet of Ministers also decided to appeal to the High Council of Justice regarding judge Karakashiyan. The complaint is related to the disciplinary offense of the judge.

Karakashiyan is known for other controversial decisions.

In particular, in November 2018, this judge recognized the appointment of Artem Sytnyk, the Head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) as illegal, despite the court not identifying any violations in the NABU chief’s actions or asset declarations. As well, the judge decided that the commercials praising the achievements of the Prosecutor General’s Ofice as “social ads.” The ads praising the controversial Prosecutor General Lutsenko were broadcast on Ukrainian channels and radio stations for free. All of them ended with the phrase “we implement the law and establish justice. Yuriy Lutsenko.”

Civil society representatives also have questions regarding the judge’s assets, as well as to the decisions of speaker Sanin. During the Euromaidan Revolution of 2013-2014, he as a judge forbid peaceful assemblies at Maidan Nezalezhnosti after police beat up peaceful protesters on 30 November 2013. During the qualification assessment of judges which took place after the Euromaidan revolution, he was recommended to be dismissed.

Civil society representatives also reminded that the Kyiv Administrative Court where the two above-mentioned persons work should have been liquidated altogether, according to the judicial reform touted by President Poroshenko. However, at some point, the Court was spared.

Suprun’s haters

Of course, the judge himself is not the main opponent of Ukraine’s acting Health Minister.

It was MP Mosiychuk from the Radical Party of Oleh Liashko who aimed at achieving Suprun’s dismissal. However, he is also only one in the group of Suprun’s haters.

The scandal raised the discussions about who would benefit if Suprun leaves the Ministry.

First, it would be the Radical Party and its presidential candidate Oleh Liashko. The dismissal would give them talking points for promotion campaigns before the election for voters who hate the changes introduced by Suprun.

Also, if Mosiychuk achieves what he wants, several groups in the healthcare field would profit as well.

From the time that Suprun started to actively reform Ukraine’s drastically underfunded and therefore brimming with corruption healthсare system, she earned lots of enemies among politicians and representatives of the old guard of Ukrainian healthcare.

Among Suprun’s open haters is Olha Bohomollets, an MP from the Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, the Head on the Parliament’s healthcare committee, and a presidential candidate. The MP had repeatedly referred to Suprun’s policies as a “genocide of the Ukrainian people.” Ihor Musiy, another MP who headed the Ministry in 2014, criticized Suprun for incompetency. Borys Todurov, a famous surgeon and medical functionary, criticized Suprun for alleged failures in medicine procurements. There are also former supporters of the runaway president Viktor Yanukovych regime among the list of haters. In particular MPs Serhiy Shakhov, Nestor Shufrych, Vadym Rabynovych, and Yuriy Boiko.

The schemes which were shut down

Reforms introduced by Suprun as well as a smear campaign run by select politicians and outlets may have been the reason why in August 2018 Suprun topped the list of the most hated Ukrainian politicians and civil servants, according to research of the IRI.

Recently, the Novoe Vremya outlet named five main corruption schemes which Suprun managed to shut down. This was possible, the outlet writes, after a reform of state procurements, an electronic registry of insulin-dependent patients introduced by Suprun reform of the assessment of knowledge of medical students. Also, since 2016, every hospital in Ukraine was obliged to publish a list of the drugs it has available for its local patients.

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Edited by: Alya Shandra

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