Battle for State Bureau of Investigations
The creation of the State Bureau of Investigations - a new law enforcement body with colossal powers - continues to accompany with permanent scandals from the selection of the Head of Bureau and his deputies and to the refusal of the Director of SBI Roman Truba to external competitive commission in appointing 27 people to leadership positions in the department. This battle will be strengthened in the context of the elections which create reasonable suspicions about political game between the Presidential Administration and various groups of the People`s Front for the control of the Bureau. Only the intensification of international attention and civil society can help to create at least to a certain extent a transparent law-enforcement institution controlled by the society. A new turn of run-in The cornerstone of the new wave of confrontation was the refusal of the Director of SBI Roman Truba to competition commission to consider the issue of appointing 27 people to the leading positions of the department. Truba`s argument was based on the fact that a number of candidates appear in journalistic investigations and criminal proceedings, in particular regarding state betrayal, and legalization of funds obtained by criminal means. Also, the Director of SBI has accused the foreign competition committee of unlawful destruction of the polygraph results which could give him the opportunity to assess moral, professional and personal qualities of candidates recommended by the commission and sign an order for their appointment. With that in mind, Roman Truba returned all the submissions to competition commission, before having obtained an examination of the legality of his actions by the Institute of Legislation of Parliament and Academy of Legal Sciences which, by analyzing the legislation, confirmed the legality of his actions. Instead the competition commission has already decided at the next meeting regarding reapplying of appeal to Truba for the appointment of 27 candidates for leadership positions in SBI and also appeal to the specialized parliamentary committee with a request to analyze the legality of actions both the commission and the Director of SBI in this situation. It is interesting that even before the decision of the competition commission on the recommendation of 27 people to the leadership positions of the SBI the list of “favorites of authorities” was published in media and the lion's share of them was in the final list. Most of them journalists and experts called the protege of the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov and the Deputy Head of the National Police of Ukraine Igor Kupranz. This situation caused a negative reaction in surroundings of the anti-corruption public organizations and the Council of Public Control in SBI. Thus, the anti-corruption activists welcomed Truba`s decision on the rejection of these candidates, calling it a strong step, which gives a chance for the likely independence of SBI from authorities. At the same time, the First Deputy Director of SBI Olga Varchenko stated that the actions of the Head of Bureau are illegal because SBI is a collegiate body and decisions should accordingly be taken jointly by director and deputies. She noted that there were no complaints at all up to half of the applicants and they had to be appointed. In addition, according to the law, the commission has no right to transfer the personal data of candidates to anybody and the polygraph data in general is not a ground for refusal to appoint a candidate. That is, the polygraph was only a formal reason not to appoint candidates elected by the commission, but the main motive should be sought somewhere else. Submerged part of the iceberg In order to understand the current situation, it is worth mentioning some important points, about which we wrote in previous releases of IU. First, the election process of the Director of SBI, his First Deputy and Deputy lasted for 1.5 years. The competition commission was created according to the principle: three persons from the president, the government and the parliament. In fact, the commission includes only representatives of the political forces – 5 from the “BPP” and 4 from the “People`s Front”. Secondly, the establishment and election procedure of the SBI leadership indicates the existence of a planned scheme for the provision of external management of this body by appointing a weak leader – representative of one political force (according to media it is “People`s Front”) and the first deputy and deputy of another – “BPP”. At last, “BPP” and “People`s Front” reached an agreement concerning the position of Director on which Roman Truba was appointed according to the recommendations of the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov. Olga Varchenko (First Deputy) and Oleksandr Buryak (Deputy), who were previously working at the Kyiv Prosecutor's Office, were elected as Truba`s deputies. Moreover, the long time the establishment of SBI was the question hung in the air and the movement with the appointment of leadership of this body took place after the activation of work of new anti-corruption authorities, because the Bureau can be a good tool to fight against “too self-contained” NACB, having the right to investigate crimes committed by the leadership of both this body and the SAPO. So the current situation became a continuation of the battle of Presidential Administration and various groups of the “People's Front” for the influence on SBI. It seems that in the outlined conflict Truba defends the interests of the NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov and the MP from “People`s Front” Serhiy Pashynskyi whose proteges were rejected during the competitive selection phase, instead the candidates agreed with Presidential Administration and Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov have prevailed. The result of such a situation will certainly be the delaying of the start of work of SBI, which has been postponed from September to October. In general, this situation plays into the hands of the heads of the GPO and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who before the creation of the Bureau retain significant powers in their hands. It is not excluded that the authorities generally decided to block the procedure for starting the work of SBI, because today it has already been possible to find a common ground with the heads of NACB and SAPO. The evidence of this is the “secret” meeting between Artem Sytnyk and President Petro Poroshenko, support from Arsen Avakov and “People`s Front” to the head of SAPO Nazar Holodnytskyi, in particular, during the consideration of his case in the Qualification-Disciplinary Commission of Prosecutors. Although Truba himtself is optimistic and plans to launch SBI in October. For this he decided to appoint, by his order, deputies of territorial units and acting heads of units of the central apparatus, who, according to him, will help to launch the work of the Bureau. The Internal Competition Commission №2 defined 14 winners of the competition for the positions of deputy directors of the territorial departments of SBI. As of September 5, Truba appointed five deputy directors of the territorial departments of SBI. But this is not enough to start the work, because the order to recruit 150 investigators has not been signed yet, and in fact, there is no one to investigate crimes. In addition, the sole appointment of deputies and acting heads of the central apparatus by Truba is questionable from the point of view of the law, which stipulates that such actions must be carried out jointly with his deputies. Roman Truba hopes that in September the Verkhovna Rada will consider a bill that partially solves the issue of appointing candidates for leadership positions and participation of the Director of SBI in this. But given the current political scenarios and the collision of the interests of the main parliamentary players in gaining control over SBI, this bill has practically no chance for adoption, as well as inclusion in the agenda. Thus, it is expected the continuation of the bidding between the main political players, the result of which will determine the future launch of SBI. There is likely to be a political consensus about maximizing delay of the work of this body. The international community and civil society should be more actively involved in the monitoring of the situation with the formation of the “Ukrainian FBI”, since the transformation of this body into another institution of political competition can obliterate all previous achievements, both in reforming law enforcement bodies and fight against corruption.
2019 Elections: white-blue camp
Following the annexation of Crimea and the military conflict in the East, the white-blue or conventionally perceived "pro-Russian" electorate has decreased by at least 5 million potential voters, but it remains a solid part of all the voters in the country - not less than 20-25% of voters. For politicians competing for this election niche the key challenge in the 2019 elections will be the development of an updated ideological platform, their consolidation and the ability to organize and accordingly motivate their electorate. Internal squabbles and self-complacency can potentially weaken white-blue camp, while only modernization of its ideology and more active work with voters can ensure their success in the 2019 elections. “Oppobloc”: uneasy marriage of convinience "Opposition block" consists of different groups. Each of them has its own center of influence. But due to solid support in society (according to recent polls, 8.5%), these groups keep together, despite constant scandals within a single political force. "Oppobloc" is torn apart by internal contradictions. If earlier the main conflict was between groups of people's deputies representing the main sponsors - the oligarchs Dmitry Firtash and Rinat Akhmetov, now there are misunderstandings within all the groups. The controversy intensified after an unsuccessful attempt of the odious politician and Vladimir Putin's fellow sponsor Viktor Medvedchuk to enter the "Opposition Bloc". The reasons for the failure of this initiative were different - the toxic personality of Medvedchuk, the reluctance of the Bloc to let to its ranks a strong person who used to control everything, including contacts with Moscow etc. In any case his accession to the “Oppobloc” did not take place, and the "Oppobloc" is now experiencing increased disintegration processes. The most visible sign of disintegration has been establishment of such projects as "For Life!" led by Vadim Rabinovich and Yevgeny Muraev, "Christian Socialists" led by Mikhail Dobkin, together with Medvedchuk's longtime ally Nestor Shufrych, left the "Opposition Bloc". But even those who remained in faction have been preparing alternative platforms for participation in the elections: Peace Party of Vadim Novinsky, Republican Party of Yuriy Boyko, Industrial Party of Kolesnikov, Ukrainian Perspective of Vilkul and others. In their election programs representatives of "opposition forces" focus on the issues that are now of greatest concern to their voters: to end the conflict in Donbas, revise the budget to enable economic development and social justice, abolish pension reform, develop accessible and high-quality medicine and education, carry out tax reform, lower pressure on taxpayers, more incentives to revitalize the economy, create attractive conditions for investors, provide energy security of the country and ensure heating in Ukrainian homes, restore financial and economic stability, fight corruption, conduct reform of decentralization and local self-government reform, reduce tariffs etc. And if with the election slogans of the white-and-blue politicians’ positioning is more or less understandable, then the situation with the only candidate for the presidency or the parliamentary election list is much more uncertain. Yuriy Boyko has the highest rating: according to the latest polls, 8.4% - mostly voters of the East, the South and Donbas. Another possible candidate may be Vadim Novinsky supported by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and business partners, primarily by Rinat Akhmetov. Another longtime associate of Akhmetov Boris Kolesnikov, who "manages" the oligarch's political projects, is unlikely to run at the elections, and will most likely support Novinsky. Kolesnikov has already revived his "shadow" government and will probably soon become politically more active. Despite the moderately critical rhetoric towards the government, the analysis of the "Opposite Bloc" actions allows experts to conclude that it cooperates with authorities and might lose the position of the main opponents of the current regime. In addition, such actions and moderate opposition rhetoric open a wide field for maneuvers for more radical forces - for example, "For Life!" Rabinovich and Muraev, who can take a significant part of the electorate. All this, together with internal conflicts in the faction, can deprive "Opposition Bloc" from the role of main opponent of the acting government and worsen the results at the election race. “Party of Peace” of Vadim Novinsky A potentially strong player in the white-blue electoral field will be Vadim Novinsky and his movement "Party of Peace". He can strengthen the “Oppobloc” split. Given the close relationship between Novinsky and Akhmetov, with whom they remain business partners, his group (Olexander Vilkul, Borys Kolesnikov and other "Akhmetov people") can go to parliamentary elections as a separate group. The main electoral effort of "Party of Peace" most likely will be focused on controlled areas of Donbas. Here, in addition to a fairly large electorate of the Party of Regions, Akhmetov's charitable foundation, which has for a long time and systematically worked with the population, will help them. The family of Vilkul will be able to ensure good result of the elections in the Dnipropetrovsk region. Novinsky has good chances in the Mykolaiv region, where he owns ship-building yard "Ocean", Mykolaiv machine-building factory and many other companies. It is not easy for Novinsky's party to win in the Kharkiv region, which is actively dominated by "For Life!" with the support of the Dobkin’s Christian Socialists. However, trump card of Novinsky for nearly the whole country is the support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Novinsky made a good shot by naming his political project "Party of Peace". According to all social surveys, more than 40% of respondents consider the chievement of peace as the priority task. And this issue is especially actual for the residents of eastern Ukraine. Besides peace, Novinsky promises working places and care for the socially disadvantaged groups, while rigorously criticizing the current government, which increases the support of voters. “Who is whose Rabinovich?” On the background of conflicts within the "Oppobloc", the party of Vadim Rabinovich and Yevgeny Muraev "For Life!" is rapidly gaining popularity. According to the latest social studies, 8.1% of Ukrainians support it. Although both parties are of pro-Russian nature, they have financial and personal contradictions. Thus, they are unlikely to choose a single candidate for the presidential election. Vadim Rabinovich will obviously run for the elections separately. He is now supported by 5.5% of voters. He divides his main electorate with Yuriy Boyko - in the East, South and Donbas. Rabinovich tries to position himself as a "third force": he did not hold high government posts and, like many Ukrainians, is dissatisfied both with opposition and with the authorities. He blames the authorities for inefficiency, economic crisis, decline in the living standards, and the opposition - in flirting with authorities and lacking a constructive position. In foreign policy, he advocates Ukraine as "Switzerland of Eastern Europe", in other words, he supports the ideas of neutrality and independence. After leaving “Oppobloc” Rabinovich has strained relations with Sergyi Lyovochkin. Politicians continue to exchange compromising materials, accusing each other of the game in the interests of Bankova. "For Life!" and "Oppobloc" today are fierce competitors in the white and blue camp. Since both parties have a rather high rating, they are unlikely to unite before the elections, although under Moscow's pressure this option is possible. Inside the party "For Life!" there is also no agreement and trust between its founders. Muraev does not like unipersonal PR of Rabinovich and the way his is making decisions without consulting with his partner. Muraev even suspects Rabinovich in obtaining funding from Bankova. He is also against the split of the opposition camp. The situation is still not critical, but, nevertheless remains rather intense. One can not help noticing the rapprochement of the party "For Life!" with Viktor Medvedchuk. Nestor Shufrych, Medvedchuk's loyal associate who left “Oppobloc” has joined Rabinovich's political project. The truth is, however, that Shufrych has not left the faction yet not to lose the mandate of the MP. Medvedchuk is advantegous for Rabinovich. He has serious financial resources, and also, he can create a good PR on the topic of war through close ties with the Kremlin, for example on the issue of the hostage release, and so on. The phenomenon of Murayev and Rabinovich is not so connected with media resources and significant investments of Medvedchuk, rather as with the fact that they took on a radical critique of the government. By doing so, they can get ahead of "Oppobloc" which is more playing at giveaway with Bankova than really criticizes it. In its current form "Oppobloc" is more a part of the ruling establishment than the opposition to it. All this can lead to significant losses in their rankings while their electorate being taken away by more radical and determined political forces from the white and blue camp. “Osnova” of “technocrat” Taruta Partly Serhiy Taruta and his party "Osnova" will fight for the votes of the white and blue group. He and his party declare themselves as a constructive opposition to the system of state power in general, while offering alternative ways of development for the country. This party favors the idea of liberal market: state non-interference in the economy; maximum freedom of trade and competition; individuals are responsible for their own destiny, however important issues for the whole society should be resolved together; the government is equally distant from all religious confessions. The party leader positions himself as a technocrat, and his associates as people of action. The frame of his party consists of those who worked for serious positions under former President Yanukovych - Andriy Nikolayenko, former chairman of the Kirovohrad RSA, Yaroslav Arsiriy, deputy minister and director of the department in the Ministry of Culture and deputy chairman of the Kirovograd Regional State Administration, and Volodymyr Polochaninov, ex-deputy from “Batkivshchyna”. Taruta is a frequent guest on TV with his party being actively advertised on billboards. Serhiy Oleksiyovych tries to present his power as a progressive, liberal, non-populist and intelligent "third force". "Osnova" tries to play on two electoral fields. Reported ideas are closer to the liberal-democratic camp, but personalities are more understandable for the white and blue electorate. Taruta criticizes the Minsk process and Kiev policy for reintegration of Donbas. As for now neither Taruta nor his party have sufficient rating. "Technocrat" Taruta is looking for more influential allies. He has good relations with oligarchs Victor Pinchuk and Rinat Akhmetov, in politics - with Yulia Tymoshenko. Experts even discuss a possible alliance under the format of Tymoshenko being the president and Taruta - the prime minister. Prospects for such cooperation are rather dubious. But Taruta, obviously, may be useful for Tymoshenko in her struggle for the presidential post, for example, as an antagonist to Anatoliy Hrytsenko. “Our Land” (“Nash Krai”) "Our land" will also fight for votes of supporters of the white and blue. Vitaliy Kovalchuk, deputy head of the presidential administration, was engaged in its creation at one time. "Our land" basically includes former non-disbursed deputies of the "Party of Regions" "(Anton Kisse, Olexander Feldman and Sergiy Kaltsev) who position themselves as managers and patriots of their small homeland. “Our land” does not have traditional ideology and can be hardly connected with either right or left political forces. It focuses on local issues planning to raise public support among voters for whom a beautiful school on a nearby street or an asphalted road is a top priority. Representatives of “Our Land” as a rule are loyal to the authorities, but at the same time adhere to moderately oppositional rhetoric in order not to lose the white and blue electorate. The given party has a number of problems. First, Igor Kononenko and Vitaliy Kovalchuk compete for control over it under the entourage of Poroshenko. Secondly, the party does not have a charismatic leader, therefore it will not probably reach the national level. Party “Revival” (“Vidrodzhennia”) Another political project, which publicly claims its opposition nature, but in fact, plays in favor of authorities and can take the votes of supporters of the white and blue is the party "Revival". Like "Our land", this party became a shelter for deputies from the Party of Regions who did not want to associate themselves with the former beneficiaries of the Party of Regions - Lyovochkin, Akhmetov, etc. The most well-known people in the "Revival" are Viktor Bondar, Anton Yatsenko, Viktor Ostapchuk, Volodymyr Pylypenko and Vitaliy Khomutynnyk. The main political messages of the party are limited to economic reforms (proposed introduction of the principle of economic nationalism) and changes in the taxation system. The party wins from having a deputy group in the parliament, but obviously loses in support of the population. In the upcoming elections, the "Revival" will bet on majoritarian candidates, while Bankova can help it with financing through the state budget. “Left Opposition”: risen from the ashes Among the white-and-blue electorate in the East and Donbas there is some support for the movement "Left Opposition". The given all-Ukrainian public association of left and center-left forces consists of five parties and 13 civic organizations. It is headed by the leader of the forbidden Communist Party, Petro Symonenko and his colleague, prominent veteran communist Georgy Kryuchkov, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party Nataliya Vitrenko, former director of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance Valery Soldatenko, as well as athlete Rudolf Povarnitsyn. After the prohibition of the Communist Party of Ukraine and the collapse of the SPU on the left ideological flank, there emerged a vacuum, which the left-wing politicians would try to fill up with "political insurgents". The rhetoric of their "Left Opposition" is marginal, being pro-Russian and anti-Western. They call the revolution of dignity a coup d’état, after which Ukraine lost economic and political sovereignty. Normal development of Ukraine is possible only together with Russia and Belarus while the course towards Euro integration will lead to the degradation of the Ukrainian state. Thus, the movement "Left Opposition" proclaimed its purposes to be the restoration of good relations with Russia, the entry into the Customs Union, the recognition of Russian as the second state language. Using such a rhetoric, this political project will probably not receive many votes, but nevertheless will be able to take a certain percentage of votes from the “Oppobloc” and “For life!” The struggle between the opposition white and blue forces is disastrous to them and plays in the favor of Bankova. It is very important for President Poroshenko not to allow a single candidate for this part of the electorate. It is advantageous for him that they go apart and compete with each other. Poroshenko is also advantageous to play the scenario in the second round with a sparring partner Boyko or Rabinovich. When Ukrainian voter is offered a choice between two evils, Poroshenko will look obviously better and it is unlikely the voter will now choose a candidate from the white and blue. Despite the conflicts in the white and blue camp, the politicians who represent it are distinguished by some discipline, which is primarily based on the economic interests. Therefore, it is likely that most of the white and blue, including Novinsky and Rabinovich, will support Yuriy Boyko in the presidential elections in 2019. Others have weak ratings. Taruta, with his "Osnova", will most likely speak on behalf of Tymoshenko. Dobkin will act in the way Medvedchuk will direct him, and the new old "left" will move in the direction indicated by Moscow. In general, the white and blue politicum is a reflection of several oligarchic groups. First of all, there are big groups of Firtash-Lyovochkin-Boyko and Akhmetov, as well as small groups of Pinchuk and Kolomoisky. It is these shareholders who decide everything and determine the architecture of the relationship between the political groups and forces under their control. There is great controversy between these shareholders, as they cannot agree on distribution of their place in the Ukrainian economy, or concerning the person who should be the president - the arbiter in the relationship between the oligarchs and the guarantor of the implementation of the agreements reached between them. In addition, Poroshenko is able well enough to play upon differences among them. Previously, he clearly dented the position of the strongest oligarch after the Revolution - Igor Kolomoisky, while others are now precarious to enter into direct confrontation with him. All this is extrapolated directly to the white and blue opposition politicum, which is very versatile and unlike Tymoshenko, Hrytsenko and other politicians, has not decided the format for going to the elections (single candidate or several, united political force or several different). They could be an alternative to the current government, but because they are scattered and do not show proper activity, unlike the others, it may happen that in the second round of the presidential election they will not oppose Poroshenko, and there will appear completely different political figures. As a result, the situation may emerge when "Oppobloc" from the main opposition of the current government will turn into outsiders. And this will be the price they will pay for failure to negotiate, for targeting not the voter, but the sponsors and the expectation that they will win on the wave of dissatisfaction with the authorities, which, however, can currently pick up other players.
ICPS will start accepting applications for participation in the project "Integration of Internally Displaced Persons into local communities. Workshop program in Germany"
The International Center for Policy Studies, in cooperation with Cultural Vistas (Germany) and with the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is launching a project to support Ukrainian activists and experts involved in the integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in local communities in Ukraine. To this end, 13 participants from different regions of Ukraine selected on a competitive basis will attend a six-day training course in Berlin where they will have the opportunity to improve skills of promoting the integration of IDP into local communities. Since 2015, Germany has been actively testing various initiatives to improve the integration of migrants, many of which are based on cooperation with local or regional organizations and the commitment of individuals to help migrants to adapt to new environments. At the same time, Germany faced a wave of negative perception, which caused many misunderstandings and cultural stereotypes. To minimize the effects of such trends, civil society representatives have been actively involved in Germany to support "newcomers to society", regardless of their native region of origin, political preferences, religion, etc. In order to exchange experience on this issue, ICPS initiates a training program for Ukrainian colleagues. Participants will be able to get acquainted with the experience of German colleagues in overcoming the perceptions, stereotypes, misunderstandings, and to develop their own decisions to improve the integration of IDP taking into account the Ukrainian context. In addition, the curriculum provides for the study of the German reunification model of 1990-1991 and the implementation of decisions aimed at bringing together two socio-political cultures (East and West Germany) of that time. Duration of studies in Germany: September 24-29, 2018 Upon returning to their communities in Ukraine, participants will have to organize events involving the IDP and representatives of host communities to discuss their experience and find ways to overcome the challenges faced by IDP in Ukraine. Language of training: English, German. Synchronous translation into Ukrainian is provided. Transportation costs as well as living expenses are covered by program sponsors. In order to participate in the project you need: - to be involved in the process of integration of the IDP in the local community; participate in projects aimed at improving the integration of the IDP; to be actively interested in and explore this issue; seek to improve the situation with the interaction of the IDP and host communities in Ukraine; - to speak English at the basic speaking level; - have a valid biometric passport. Otherwise - the participant will have to undergo the procedure for obtaining a German visa on his or her own; - send a resume and a motivational letter justifying your interest in the program and describing the relevant experience by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Limitations on participation in the program: civil servants and representatives of local authorities cannot be participants of the project. Deadline for submitting applications is June 4, 2018 If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us: +38 044 253 52 29; +38 068 194 94 04.
The Art of Tolerance: Blitz-Speeches on PeaceKeeping
The International Centre for Policy Studies, with the support of the United Nations Development Program in Ukraine, launched a "Reinventing Respect" communication campaign to support tolerance and mutual understanding in society a year ago. The main goal of the given project was to reduce the polarization of public opinion and strengthen dialogue among various social groups. Within the framework of the project the UNDP Ukraine Envoys for Tolerance and Promoting Tolerance and Mutual Understanding were chosen. In particular, in the form of a creative interview, Neil Walker - UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine and Vadym Chernysh - Minister for Temporary Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons identified the need for a dialogue in society as a necessary basis in the context of situation in Ukraine. ICPS expert Mykola Kapitonenko and ICPS Chief Advisor Vasyl Filipchuk consider trust as the main building material for creating tolerant society. In turn, Igor Kozlovsky noted that love is the main thing. "Everything begins with love, and very often the reason of all the problems is that people do not know how to love," says a religious scholar. Mykola Kapitonenko also noticed that the perception of diversity and respect for everyone is a sign of the most successful society. A panel with Envoys was extremely interesting, moderated by Pavel Vyshebaba and Lyubko Deresh. The writer and human rights defender Larisa Denisenko emphasized that the first step is to determine their own latent intolerance. The artist Alevtina Kakhidze shared the experience of communicating with people during trip to the East. The creative part was presented by readings of poetry by the People's Artist of Ukraine Natalia Sumska and singer Katya Chilly. There were also awarded winners of the creative works competition with a view to promoting the ideas of tolerance among students and digital-specialists.
Conference "Transparent and Financially Healthy Local Self-Government Bodies in Ukraine"
On March 20, 2018, there was held the final conference "Transparent and Financially Healthy Local Self-Government Bodies in Ukraine" under the joint project of ICPS and the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms in Slovakia (INEKO) with the financial support of the US Embassy in Ukraine. The first panel of the conference was devoted to the "Transparency of the 50 largest cities of Ukraine" (http://transparency.icps.com.ua/) rating, which aims to: - monitor the current level of transparency of the largest cities of Ukraine; - develop recommendations on transparent decision-making by local self-government bodies; - increase and promote transparency of municipalities. The rating is based on data obtained from the following sources: - Answers to the questionnaire sent by ICPS to 50 city councils; - Answers to requests for information sent by ICPS unofficially - through a third party ("secret client request"); - information which can be directly accessed on the official websites of the city councils. In this case, 77 parameters of transparency of each city were investigated. Based on the analysis of the results of the research, it can be noted that the overall average transparency of cities improved from 42.88% in 2016 to 51.38% in 2017. The highest dynamics of transparency was demonstrated by Mariupol, Kropyvnytsky, Uman, Brovary and Nikopol. Among the top three winners of the rating are Sumy, Lviv and Vinnytsa. The second panel of the conference was devoted to the project "Financial health of budgets of cities and regions of Ukraine" (http://budgets.icps.com.ua/), the purpose of which is: - raising public awareness about the budgets of municipalities and their rating; - support for solving current problems of financial management of budgets of cities and oblasts; - promotion of financial health of regions, cities and settlements. The analysis of the results shows that integrated indicator of the financial situation of the cities has improved by 0.4 points to 6.0 in comparison with the previous rating one of the main reasons of which was budget decentralization, which allowed local authorities to use financial resources more efficiently. The integrated indicator of the financial situation of the regions got worse by 0.5 points to 5.9 caused by an increase in the expenditure part of the budgets. The best dynamics was demonstrated by Vinnytsa, Zhytomyr, Kropyvnytsky. Among the regions, Lviv, Chernivtsi and Ternopil regions had the best progress. At the same time, the cities and regions which were among top 10 had almost not changed from 2013. It should be noted that in most cities and regions capital expenditures account for less than 20%. The first three cities-leaders are Odessa, Rivne and Poltava. Among the regions, Zaporizhzhya, Cherkasy ta Volyn regions took the first three places.