The Kyiv-based Anti-Corruption Center, an anti-graft watchdog, says it has proof that the President’s Office plans to falsify the results of the selection process of Ukraine’s chief anti-corruption prosecutor who will lead the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, or SAPO.
This comes after yet another delay of the commission that should select the SAPO head. On 2 December, the commission that was to finalize selecting the SAPO head did not convene as planned, leading to angry tweets from the G7 group of ambassadors to Ukraine.
G7 Ambassadors urge the commission selecting a new Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor to conclude its important function and, without further delay, finalise the process of selecting a new head of SAPO, in full transparency. 1/2
— G7AmbReformUA (@G7AmbReformUA) December 2, 2021
One of the commission members Roman Kuybida posted on Facebook that it’s possible the meeting was canceled so that the world would not see the score results of the candidates for one of the stages of the competition — the practical task.
Four members of the 11-member commission appointed by the quota of the Council of the Prosecutors (the other seven are appointed by the Verkhovna Rada) decided to publish their results online; Kuybida posted the scores that they gave to the leading candidates.
The Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC), one of Ukraine’s key civil society anti-corruption institutions wrote on its website that the candidates took this practical test more than a month ago, on 28 October, yet the Prosecutor General’s Office has still not published the results.
AntAC stated that the instructions, together with the work of the finalists, were removed from the PGO website, yet were still available via the website’s google cache. These results were then given an independent assessment by the DEJURE Foundation, an NGO advocating for Ukraine’s judicial reform, and The Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.
The independent assessment of the results of the candidates for the practical test by these two institutions, conducted by a detailed methodology that rules out the possibility of too much subjectivity, is very close to the results of the four commission candidates that Kuybida posted online: they give more points to Oleksandr Klymenko, one of the two leaders of the competition.
AntAC leader Vitaliy Shabunin said that, according to the Center’s information, Oleg Tatarov, deputy head of the President’s Office, is preparing a “large-scale falsification of the scores” by members of the commission from the Parliament’s quota.
He claims that the possible falsification is taking place in order to not allow Klymenko, the leader of the competition, to win.
Oleksandr Klymenko is a detective of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau while his competitor Andriy Syniuk is a prosecutor in the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Andriy Syniuk was shortlisted as a candidate “unfit of chairing SAPO” by the Ukrainian media Ukrainska Pravda. The outlet noted it has “many questions” regarding the candidate’s lifestyle, including a possibly inappropriate declaration of assets and possible concealment of wealth.
The position of the head of SAPO, an institution created in 2015 as part of Ukraine’s new anti-corruption architecture, has been vacant since August 2020, when its head Nazar Kholodnytskyi resigned. An independent selection process to select a new SAPO head has been a crucial issue for Ukraine’s reform agenda, as well as its western partners.
Particularly, finishing this appointment before the start of December 2021 is one of the key requirements of the IMF’s agreement with Ukraine. Ukraine also promised in September 2021 to elect the head of the SAPO, as revealed in the joint statement after a meeting between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden.
However, the process was constantly delayed. The Anti-Corruption Prevention center claimed that on October 9, members of the commission “controlled by the President’s Office” had disrupted a key stage of the competition for SAP head. On the same day, President Zelenskyy stated he had not heard adequate explanations for this delay.