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Why all the Prosecutors General of Ukraine are similar

Why all the Prosecutors General of Ukraine are similar
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Critics of the Prosecutor General’s Office will compare Yuriy Lutsenko to Shokin or even worse. However, the issue is not with Lutsenko or Shokin or Yarema.

Barely four months have gone by since the resignation of Viktor Shokin and the appointment of a new Prosecutor General of Ukraine (PGU). Now the same people who had advocated for a change in the leadership of the Prosecutor General’s Office have announced they are collecting signatures for the dismissal of Yuriy Lutsenko.

One should not be surprised. It was pretty much the same situation when Viktor Shokin was appointed Prosecutor General and people demanded the dismissal of Vitaliy Yarema. It is simply that the people who supported his appointment — and who then later demanded his dismissal — maintained that Shokin, as a principled and clean prosecutor, would be able to reform the General Prosecutor’s Office much faster than his predecessor.

When it came to Lutsenko, the logic was different. A politician who had never worked in the prosecutor’s office would be able to restore order and change the situation much faster than an insider. But for me, it was absolutely obvious that in just a few weeks, Lutsenko would be viewed the same way as Shokin or even worse. Because the issue is not with Lutsenko, or Shokin or Yarema.

The difficulty lies in the inability or unwillingness to see the root of the problem and to solve it system-wide and not on the individual or staff level. For any Prosecutor General (PG) to work effectively, he or she must be have absolute independence from the branches of government. It is for this reason that the Constitution stipulates that the PG’s candidacy is proposed by the president and approved by the parliament.

This is the logic of a parliamentary-presidential republic, which guarantees the independence of the prosecutors. But not in Ukraine. Because here Poroshenko formed his political bloc after winning the presidential election in the first round. To give him his due, he did it openly without hiding it, and the citizens voted for this bloc as they voted for the president earlier.

The Petro Poroshenko Bloc was able to form the biggest faction in parliament after the elections. And this way a door was shut on the independence of the PGU as well as the independence a whole group of regulatory bodies that should be selected by balancing the interests of the president and parliament.

And no matter how many times the PG is changed, the situation still will not be resolved until there are institutional changes in the country. Until a balance is maintained . Until there are clearly defined constraints that ensure the independence of law enforcement and the regulatory agencies.

And until that time, everything will be as before, even if the Archangel Gabriel is elected as Prosecutor General. And this was not the decision of the head of state, who did not break any laws in forming his electoral bloc. It was also the will of the estimable voters.  But not only theirs, of course.

This was also the choice of those politicians who entered parliament on the list of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and who thereby converted their names and reputations into the success of the president’s faction, irreversibly upsetting the balance. And when certain of these politicians demonstrate near the GPU office or demand the dismissal of the next “presidential” Prosecutor General, it is time to ask where were they earlier? Didn’t they understand what would happen with the PGU? Couldn’t they foresee the results of their actions?

But politics is not a demonstration. It is not a TV show, not a sensational article, not even a post in social media. It is the presence of strategic thinking and responsibility for one’s actions. And if that does not exist, it is better to engage in some other activity where it is possible to achieve real success. For example, to compose posts or appear on TV.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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