Ukrainian President Zelenskyy speaks at the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September 2021. Photo: president.gov.ua
In this week in review, Kyiv not Kiev delves into Ukraine’s new bill, which is supposed to make “the oligarchic branch of power disappear,” President Zelenskyy’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly, in which he called COVID vaccines an “instrument of discrimination,” and the UN’s new report on Ukraine, which deals with tortures in Crimea, increased shelling of Ukrainian territories and a constitutional crisis.
Ukraine got a bill on oligarchs
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine supported in the second reading the presidential bill on oligarchs. According to the President – thanks to the law, “the oligarchic branch of power will disappear.” If you wonder how to recognize a Ukrainian oligarch, let us tell you: The law proposes to consider as oligarchs all those who meet at least three of the four listed characteristics:
- A person should participate in political life.
- A person should have a significant impact on the media.
- A person should be the ultimate owner of the company – the subject of natural monopolies or a monopolist in one of the markets.
- The confirmed value of assets should exceed 1 million subsistence minimums (UAH 2.27 billion or $83 mn).
The law according to which we can determine the oligarchs has a lot of visible weaknesses and vague wordings. For example, the document does not specify how the total assets of a potential oligarch will be assessed and who should conduct it.
However, according to Article 5 of the bill, it becomes clear why these criteria are so vague: the decision to recognize a person as an oligarch will be made by the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), headed by the President. So, the list of oligarchs will be created manually.
Opposition members have already said that giving the Council the right to determine who is an oligarch and who is not is unconstitutional because neither the Council nor even President has such powers under the Constitution.
Who will have the right to determine oligarchs? According to the law, these are Members of the National Security and Defense Council, the Cabinet of Ministers, the National Bank of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine, and the Antimonopoly Committee. After a person is recognized as an oligarch, he will be included in a special register.
One can stop being an oligarch only by the decision of the National Security and Defense Council and only if a person ceases to fall under three of the four abovementioned criteria defined in the project.
The President of Ukraine has already welcomed the adoption of the law. However, many believe that he only earns political points in this way, and the law itself will be an instrument of political persecution.
It is unclear whether this law is enough to overcome the effects of oligarchic influence on the country. However, we want this to be only the first stage of the struggle against the oligarchs and corruption in Ukraine rooted in every sphere of public life. However, you can fight the oligarchs without a special law but by improving antitrust and anti-corruption legislation.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke at the General Assembly of the United Nations
On September 22, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed a meeting of the UN General Assembly. During his speech, he compared the distribution of COVID vaccines globally with the distribution of lifeboats and called the drug an instrument of discrimination.
The President also reminded that Crimea needs UN attention more than ever in the context of environmental protection, as the nature of Crimea has been turned into a military base – “instead of fauna and flora there is a navy and soldiers.”
The part of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs agreed with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on the need for an international response to the occupation of Crimea and forced voting in the Russian elections.
But most importantly, the President thanked all states for supporting Ukraine in their speeches and wished Russia not to leave the hall during talks on aggression but to leave the territory of Ukraine.
“I thank all states that mentioned Ukraine in their speeches this year, and many others who are not ashamed that Ukraine is their friend, their partner, who can call a spade a spade: call occupation an occupation and call aggression as aggression. Not afraid that ‘someone’ will leave this hall. It will not bring happiness to Ukraine. It could bring happiness to Ukraine if ‘someone’ left our state territories.”
The UN issued a new report on Ukraine
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a report on Ukraine. It deals with tortures in Crimea, increased shelling of Ukrainian territories and a constitutional crisis.
The report itself recorded an increase in violations of “silence” in the Donbas, compared to the previous period, and an increase in the number of civilian casualties by 51%.
“During the period under review [February 1, 2021 – July 31, 2021], the number of ceasefire violations in the conflict zone increased significantly compared to the previous half-year, leading to an increase in civilian casualties and damage to civilian objects.
OHCHR recorded 62 civilian casualties during the reporting period: 15 deaths (11 men, three boys and one girl) and 47 injuries (30 men, 13 women, three boys and one girl), which is 51 per cent more than compared to the previous half-year.”
The UN High Commissioner’s Office is also concerned about the growing constitutional crisis in Ukraine due to the removal, dismissal and criminal prosecution of two judges of the Constitutional Court and threat to the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in the country.
In addition, the document records the facts of human rights violations in occupied Crimea, where Russia continues to restrict freedom of peaceful assembly. The document refers to the facts of tortures and ill-treatment by the FSB and the violation of fair trial rights.
That’s how Ukraine lived this week. To learn more, stay tuned with KYIV NOT KIEV and Euromaidan Press.