The International Centre for Policy Studies held two round table debates in Mykolaiv and Kherson on 21 May and 22 May 2015 respectively within the project on "Initiating the Participatory National Dialogue in Ukraine".
The round table debate in Mykolaiv was organized in cooperation with Petro Mohyla Chornomorsk State University. The event was attended by universities employees, civic activists, representatives of local autorities and local media.
Project Coordinator Olena Zakharova presented the results of the sociological survey regarding regional public attitude towards recent events in Ukraine and historical events in general. The survey revealed that there is no such a notion as "south-east", by means of which Russian propaganda has tried to manipulate public opinion in Ukraine. In terms of mentality, residents of South Ukraine are much closer to Central rather than Eastern Ukraine.
The round table in Kherson was co-organized by Community Foundation of Kherson "Zakhyst". The survey revealed that in Kherson region public attitudes about different events in the past as well as current events in Ukraine are much the same as the average public attitudes across Ukraine.
The draft law on Donbas reintegration: pros and cons
On October 4, 2017, the text of the draft law “On the peculiarities of state policy on ensuring Ukraine’s state sovereignty over temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” became available in an open access. The document (known as the draft law on Donbas reintegration) which was presented on the initiative of the President of Ukraine, aims to improve the legal regulation of the situation in eastern part of Ukraine, but does not provide a set of necessary actions for achieving this goal. “Pros and cons” of the draft law “Pros”: First, the draft law, if approved by the Verkhovna Rada, will be the first document, which at the legislative level recognizes the non-controlled areas in Eastern Ukraine as temporarily occupied territories, Russia is designated as an aggressor state with regard to the situation in Donbass, and pro-Russian militants are equated to the pro-Kremlin “puppets”. Second, the draft law on Donbas reintegration eliminates legal contradictions, in particular by allowing to abolish the ATO regime and transferring management in the front lines from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) to the Joint Operational Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Third, the draft law defines that state policy on ensuring Ukraine’s state sovereignty over temporarily occupied territories should be based on political and diplomatic means. “Cons” of the draft law: First, despite the defined objective, the draft law does not provide specific mechanisms for the restoration of state sovereignty over temporarily occupied territories. Second, the draft law does not take into account the human dimension, particularly the mechanisms for ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens residing in non-controlled areas, such as retirement benefits, social security, administrative services etc. Consequently, serious problems can arise for Ukrainian citizens residing on these territories. Third, the preamble of this draft law refers to the evidences of Russia's aggression in Eastern Ukraine (based on the UN General Assembly resolution “Definition of Aggression”, which is a non-binding document), but ignores the undeniable facts of Russia’s aggression in Crimea. The reference to the annexation of Crimea and the inclusion of the Crimean “components” could help Ukraine achieve international recognition of Russia as an aggressor state. Four, the draft law contains a "sliding" reference to the Minsk agreements (the state authorities of Ukraine “ensure the priority of implementing the security provisions” of the Minsk agreements). Consequence, the question arises whether there is a legal contradiction in this document: the Minsk agreements recognize particular areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as a conflicting party while this draft law designates Russia as a conflicting party. Generally, the main point in the Donbas reintegration draft law is that it rather resolves operational tasks, but does not contain effective mechanisms for achieving goals of the draft law themselves, in particular the liberation of DPR/LPR-controlled territories and the protection of the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of people, who have suffered from the armed conflict.
Discussion “Benefits of a tolerant society and the ways to build it in Ukraine"
A panel discussion on the “Benefits of a tolerant society and the ways to build it in Ukraine” was held today within the framework of the communication campaign “Reinventing Respect” with the participation of the UNDP Tolerance Envoys Pavlo Vyshebaba, Andriy Kulykov, Katya Chilly, Liubko Deresh, and ICPS Senior Advisor Vasyl Filipchuk. The key topic of the discussion was importance and relevance of tolerance in society in all the possible variations and manifestations. Besides, Vasyl Filipchuk drew attention to the practical measure of tolerance, having analyzed the level of GDP per capita, and making a conclusion on that the higher the welfare society has, the more tolerant society is. Co-founder of NGO “One Planet” Pavlo Vyshebaba noted that the respect for others begins with the realization of the unity together with all living beings. “Tolerance is a certain side of culture, which needs to be built in the society. We should realize that we depend on one another. If we try to build such a logical chain, when we realize – this what the tolerance is, the next step is respect, and then love. That’s what enriches us”, stressed Liubko Deresh. Wrapping up the event, moderator of the discussion Andriy Kulykov gave a very simple, yet meaningful remark – tolerance is power.
Bulletin of the regional transparency. Issue 2
We offer to your attention the second issue of the analytical-information product of the International Centre for Policy Studies, "Bulletin of the regional transparency", which was developed in the framework of the project "Transparency, financial health and competitiveness of the local self-government in Ukraine" being implemented by ICPS and Slovak non-governmental non-profit organization INEKO with the financial support of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The Bulletin contains the review the work of the Project, as well as a variety of materials devoted to increased transparency, financial viability and competitiveness of the local authorities, as well as issues related to the coverage of the decentralization reform. In this issue we offer to your attention materials on: Presentation of transparency rating in 22 regions of Ukraine by experts of ICPS (Ukraine) and Transparency International Slovakia; A violation of the procedural issues in Khmelnytsky City Council during preparation for the next session; Procurement of Chernivtsi City Council with used trolleys in emergency condition; Analysis of the position of the city of Odessa in the transparency rankings of the cities; Abuse in the city Kropivnitskyi in the greening of the city; Exposing individual schemes, discrimination of bidders in public procurement; Recommendations to local authorities on how to improve the transparency and openness of budget processes with participation of citizens. Full version of the Bulletin is available here: /assets/uploads/images/images/eu/nl_02_07_17_.pdf
Elections to United Territorial Communities: Results, Trends and Prospects of the Parliamentary Political Parties
The first phase of local elections to UTCs was won by the party of power "BPP-Solidarity", which with the help of technological projects "Nash krai" (eng. Our Land), "Agrarian party" and non-affiliated candidates will form its majority in a significant number of territorial communities. With high probability, the government will use this winning scheme in the next parliamentary elections. Second place went to the party "Batkivshchyna", which was able to take a clear niche of opposition against Petro Poroshenko. "Batkivshchyna" received high scores due to the operation at the local level, pension and land reforms. However, against the background of the campaign of the Radical party of Liashko and the Opposition bloc, technological projects of power – "Nash krai" and "Agrarian party" significantly strengthened their positions, and maintaining the existing electoral dynamics they have a good chance to get into the new parliament. The presidential administration went to the elections in several columns, which allowed the authorities to obtain very good results. In particular, in the East and South of Ukraine the project "Nash krai" showed very good results, which allowed to get ahead of the "Opposition bloc", which is in the midst of the organizational, ideological and financial crisis. In turn, new technological power project "Agrarian party" was able to impose electoral fight to the "Batkivshchyna" and the Radical Party of Oleh Liashko, whose voters are concentrated in villages and small towns. "Agrarian party" also criticized land and pension reforms, which allowed it to compete for voters in the opposition. The presence of significant financial resources and strong human asset on the ground, allowed the "Agrarian party" to get the high fourth result. Also, the presidential administration can record the considerable part of deputies-independent candidates who, after winning the election will come in the ruling party, or will support "BPP-Solidarity". According to the data of CEC, totally 269 of independents won in the elections. Thus, the results of local elections in the UTCs a landslide victory was obtained by the ruling party "BPP Solidarity", which with the help of independents and party-affiliated projects received about 60% of the seats in local councils. Second place was awarded to the party "Batkivshchyna", which at the local level had a successful campaign based on critics of land and pension reforms. It is also worth noting that the party "Batkivshchyna" has one of the strongest party and organizational structures in Ukraine, which for the past 15 years regularly took part in election campaigns. The analysis of the results of local elections shows that the best results belong to the party of Yulia Tymoshenko in the central and southern regions of Ukraine. In these areas small and middle-sized farms are particularly developed, they very painfully react to the sale of land that is actively used by the party "Batkivshchyna" in the process of political competition. The low results of the elections in the communities were also demonstrated by the Radical Party of Liashko, whose main competitors were "Batkivshchyna" and "Agrarian party". Also the parliamentary party "Samopomich" and "People’s Front" also took part in the electoral process and they showed very weak results. This is due to the overall drop in ratings of the parties of Yatsenyuk and Sadovyi, as well as very weak institutional and party structures. It is interesting to note that "People’s Front" decided to keep distance from "BPP", and in some regions still prepared their candidates who won the election. The party "UKROP" demonstrated very good performance in its base region Volyn and Western Ukraine in general. The relative success of the party "UKROP" was due to the failure of another nationalist party "Svoboda", which failed to gain a foothold in Central Ukraine. Another player on the right wing – "National Corps" of Biletskyi did not participate in local elections. The new party of Valentyn Nalyvaichenko "Sparevedlyvist" (eng. Justice) appeared, and it received 20 seats in the community. The party of Nalyvaichenko was trying to push the maximum number of its candidates for all districts, thereby demonstrating its desire to participate in the next parliamentary elections. One of the main trends of local elections is the participation in the election campaign of regional political projects, such as "Cherkashchany" or "United center", focused on the regional elite, with large resources and strong influence in the certain communities. Elections were held in conditions of mobilization of the administrative resource by the party authorities, who tried at the expense of independents to maximize their representation in the local councils. Local elections in the UTCs demonstrated the fact that political parties have actively fought for financial sponsors who are already eyeing the potential of successful projects that can be funded in the next parliamentary elections. Thus, without exception, all political parties consider local elections to UTCs as a rehearsal before the parliamentary elections. The administration of the President can count on the continued electoral success through independent candidates, the project "Nash krai", which competes with the Opposition bloc and the "Agrarian party", which is seen in Bankova Str. as the main electoral opponent of Radial Party and the "Batkivshchyna." For Yulia Tymoshenko, this election showed that her party is perceived as one of the few opposition alternatives regarding the structure of government of Petro Poroshenko. The ideological and organizational weakness of the Opposition bloc, voter fatigue from radicals and nationalists opens for "Batkivshchyna" a good electoral prospects. The first results of elections in UTCs also showed the increased influence among nationalist voters of the party "UKROP" which gradually absorbs the people’s and organizational network of "Svoboda" and other right-wing parties.
The results of the year of General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko
The analysis of the year of work of the General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko showed that his activity is more focused on creating beautiful images in the media, than on achieving real results. Most of the promises of Yuriy Lutsenko were populistic, and some were only partially implemented. Almost all high-profile criminal cases initiated by the General Prosecutor are stopped at the investigation stage, either through procedural violations by the prosecution and the weakness of the evidence base collected by them falls apart in court. Yuriy Lutsenko uses GPO as an instrument of political competition and pressure, and also as a PR platform for a future political career. During the year of his work as General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko was not able to reform a body towards European standards, which for 20 years acted as a tool of promoting political interests. On May 12, 2016 Yuriy Lutsenko was appointed the General Prosecutor. For the first time in the modern history of Ukraine, a politician was appointed to the position of the Prosecutor General, and what is important, without law education and the necessary experience in the field of law. On the new post Yuriy Lutsenko in the first place, promised to reform and clear the Prosecutor’s Office, to punish members of the previous government, responsible for the killings on the Maidan, to return stolen Yanukovych's team funds. Lutsenko also emphasized the political impartiality of his work and promised that politics will in not affect the investigation of resonant cases. Yuriy Lutsenko talked a lot about the intensification of the lustration processes within the Prosecutor’s Office. The purification began with the verification of probity of prosecutors – collected using a special questionnaire of information on occupations and lifestyle of the employees of the Prosecutor's Office and possible corruption risks. Such information has become the basis for performance verification and public scrutiny. But the use of questionnaires caused great doubts as to the effectiveness of this mechanism, because the prosecutors just confirmed or denied a number of allegations and did not provide any specifics. As a result, almost zero results were obtained. Instead of layoffs, the Prosecutor’s Office issues warnings and reprimands to prosecutors. Among 12,5 thousand prosecutors only three were brought to disciplinary proceedings. The GPO repeatedly took the competences of the NABU and SAPO that created excessive competition between old and new anticorruption institutions, and contributed to the collapse of cases in court. A vivid example of relations with the GPO and the newly established anti-corruption institutions was the scandal in August 2016, when the Prosecutor's Office detained two detectives of NABU. The statistics is vivid and according to it, by 3.5 times fewer people were detained for this crime than in 2013 during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych. The following cleaning mechanism was the creation of the General Inspectorate of the GPO. But the launch of this body was accompanied by a scandal. Lutsenko decided to assign odious Petro Shkutiak as a person responsible for the inspection, he was not only subject to lustration, and even was involved in corruption fraud. After the resignation, according to the results of competitive selection, Volodymyr Uvarov was chosen for his position. During four month under Uvarov’s leadership the office submitted criminal proceedings to the court in respect of nine prosecutors. Thus, purification of the Prosecutor's Office on grounds of quality did not happen. Competitions to the regional Prosecutor's Offices and the GPO were not held. Competitive selection was carried out only in the local offices, but the results can hardly be considered satisfactory. Almost all of the heads and deputy heads of local prosecution offices are from the old system, and the ordinary structure has not been restarted. Public confidence in the prosecution is declining, the official salary, despite promises, remained at an uncompetitive level, and mismanagement leads to degradation of personnel of the GPO. Yuriy Lutsenko did not offer any plan for the reform of the Prosecutor's Office and turning it into a judicial body. The adjustment to the new requirements of the Constitution, the law on prosecution and procedure codes were also left without attention of the General Prosecutor. On the contrary, through lobbying bill No. 5177, Yuriy Lutsenko did not seek to narrow the powers of the prosecution, as required by the basic law, but rather to expand them. This issue, in particular, attracted attention of experts of the Council of Europe, which provided an appropriate conclusion. In general, we can talk about the folding of the prosecution that is a confirmation of the unwillingness of the authorities to lose control over such an important instrument of political pressure. The start of functioning of the prosecutorial self-government, the Council of Prosecutors and Disciplinary Commission (CDC) of prosecutors, which should form the personnel policy department also did not happen without scandals. The fact that the Ukrainian conference of prosecutors in the last year, until the appointment of Yuriy Lutsenko, elected their representatives to these bodies. Legal grounds for exemption of the elected members did not exist, but that did not stop the current management of the Prosecutor's Office breaking the law and carrying out a new Ukrainian conference of prosecutors and electing other members to the prosecution bodies. On May 4, 2017 in the Obolon district court of Kyiv a preparatory hearing in relation to the long-awaited prosecution of Viktor Yanukovych for treason was held. The General Prosecutor considers the mere fact that there was the commencement of legal process to be a big victory for himself and the result did not particularly worry him. Lutsenko does not want to see that the procedure of conviction giving a lot of loopholes for lawyers of the fugitive president, and any deviation from the accepted European understanding of the process of conviction will give the opportunity to successfully appeal the decision to the ECHR. If we consider the merits of the case, the basic allegations of Yanukovych are based actually on a single action – the so-called appeal of Yanukovych to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request for sending troops to restore order in Ukraine. But there are serious doubts that the prosecution will be able to comply with the requirements of part 1 of Article 23, part 3 of Article 99 of the Criminal Procedural Code and will provide the court with the original letter, and the examination will state the authenticity of the signature. In the absence of the original, the defense may argue that the letter did not exist at all or to claim that the text of the letter was distorted. That is, without the original document the case is in a procedural impasse. The decision of Interpol on the termination of the international investigation of the former president and his team was also unexpected and very unpleasant decision for Yuriy Lutsenko on the eve of consideration of the case of Viktor Yanukovych by the Ukrainian court. The fact is that Article 3 of the Charter of the Interpol says that he can't be involved in political, religious and racial disputes. And the documents filed by the Ukrainian side stated that Viktor Yanukovych became President of Ukraine, headed an organized criminal group, consisting of the Prime Minister, Ministers and so on. Criminal procedural legislation of Ukraine in this context is also imperfect, because Viktor Yanukovych, despite the open proceeding is not a person to whom the measure of restraint “detention” was applied. And according to the rules of Interpol, the person in respect of whom no measure of restraint in a form of detention was chosen cannot be declared in the international search. Also, the office of Yuriy Lutsenko held a number of searches, which was accompanied by a bright covering in the media. For example, the GPO searched the two mayors of the cities of Bucha and Irpin, Kyiv oblast – Anatolii Fedoruk and Volodymyr Karpliuk, who were accused of illegal allotment of land plots to people close to them. We speak about 890 acres of priceless forests near Kyiv. However, no arrests took place, and mayors calmly continue to work at their jobs. The Prosecutor General's Office raided the estates of the former head of the presidential administration of Yanukovych Andrii Kliuiev and former Deputy Secretary of the NSDC Volodymyr Sivkovych, suspected of involvement in the events on the Maidan, but they did not bring any result. The GPO sent to the Verkhovna Rada a request on deprival of Oleksandr Onyshchenko of the parliamentary immunity, he is suspected of embezzlement of public funds in especially large scale. The MP was deprived of immunity, but at that time Onyshchenko was far away from Ukraine. Lutsenko personally, not once, tried to convince MPs to withdraw the immunity of the oligarch and representative of the “Opposition bloc” Vadym Novinskyi, who was a suspect in the kidnapping. The deputies supported the idea of Lutsenko, but that was it. One of the key issues of GPO against the previous government is a proceeding against the former head of the fraction of Party of Regions Oleksandr Yefremov, who is suspected of high treason, organizing and carrying support for the “LPR”. But one of the main witnesses in this case – Volodymyr Medianyk was released. The case against Yefremov is now being considered in a court of Starobilsk in Luhansk region. It is not excluded that Yefremov may escape punishment, because as practice shows, the GPO constantly makes procedural violations. Also, the GPO has still not finished investigation into the circumstances of illegal actions of officials within the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine and General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which could lead to a decrease in the level of national defense. Also a criminal investigation into the events in Ilovaisk has not been completed. If we speak in the language of statistics, Lutsenko gave 43 promises (the data of the portal “Word and business”) at the office of the General Prosecutor, of which only 5 were kept.Thus, the Prosecutor's Office in Ukraine has always been a political authority and a tool of repressive actions. During the work of Yuriy Lutsenko politicization of the Prosecutor's office reached its peak, because he has his own political ambitions and considers the current position as a kind of career springboard towards the presidency. In the matter of personnel policy the Prosecutor decided not to go into conflict with the system, although several times he has rudely violated the guarantees of independence of the prosecutors. In the matter of implementation of the changes to the Constitution in the direction of the transformation on the GPU in a system of justice, Yuriy Lutsenko has not offered any plan to reform the institution, but rather lobbied for the extension of the powers of prosecutors by limiting maneuvers for NABU and SAPO. The most high-profile cases under the auspices of Yuriy Lutsenko collapsed in the courts, or are being slowed down in the absence of evidence against the suspects.
Diplomatic briefing "Inside Ukraine"
The analysis “Inside Ukraine” was traditionally represented to the diplomatic corps. Recent developments affected directly the content of “Public policies”: on April 13, 2017 officials of the Prosecutor's Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (ARC) and the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) searched premises of the Ukrainian think-tank ICPS in order to find “The idea for resolving the conflict in Donbas”. Search of the think-tank caused an outcry by Ukrainian civil society and human rights activists. “This loud event may be an alarming signal of changing Ukrainian government policy towards peaceful settlement, respect for democratic norms and fundamental freedoms, as well as its attitude on civil society in general”, - Vasyl Filipchuk noted. Vasyl Povoroznyk, summing up the results of work of the Groysman government in 2016, stressed that the main developments of the government, according to the report, include restoring macroeconomic growth. Generally, the first year of the Groysman government neither brought serious disappointments, nor demonstrated specific achievements in implementing reforms. The strategic priorities of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in 2016 were the following: macroeconomic stabilization; creating favorable conditions for business development; ensuring rule of law and combating corruption; improving the quality of public administration and public services; restoration of state and citizens’ security. According to the report, the government achieved positive results in each strategic area identified in the plan of work. However, most of these achievements the government have either formal or dual character. Anatoliy Oktysyuk presented possible scenarios in political competition, in particular several options for political developments in the country: reshaping of the coalition and government structures, freezing of the current situation until 2019 or early parliamentary elections in autumn 2017.