How we are losing the transparency of the Parliament

01 February 2023
How we are losing the transparency of the Parliament
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Text republished from Detector media

One of the key achievements of democracy is the transparency of government work to everyone who wants to know in advance when and what decisions officials plan to consider, to monitor the work of institutions in real-time, and familiarize themselves with the decisions made. This is how the transparency of state institutions in Ukraine worked. 

Until February 24. Currently, there is no more information about the dates and draft bills on the agenda, it is not possible to watch live broadcasts of the meetings, and the results of the work of the Government or Parliament can only be found on social media. And if in the first weeks of the full-scale invasion such a practice was understandable and logical, after the ninth month it is surprising. 

This is especially true about the Verkhovna Rada, which in peacetime was one of the most open institutions, but now it is turning into a government body isolated from public control, where everything is decided not even in the mythical “lobby”, but directly in the meeting hall now closed to the public eye. As a result, we risk losing the transparency of the Parliament and the opportunity to influence decision-making. 

The Centre for United Actions investigated how the Verkhovna Rada is losing its transparency and what this means for us. 

Closed meetings 

Until February 24, information about the meetings of the Verkhovna Rada and their agendas was public. Anyone could skim through the agenda in advance and, if necessary, speak for or against particular decisions. This was a common practice. Discussions were held in the media and social networks, rallies were organized in the streets to support the adoption of the Electoral Code and the Law on the State Language, or to protest against the Kivalov-Kolesnichenko language law and changes regarding the special status of Donbas. 

Currently, such information is not available. You can find out about the meetings and draft bills discussed there only after the fact, and even then — not from the official parliamentary website, but from MPs’ personal accounts on social media. Journalists now use the Telegram channels of MPs Oleksii Honcharenko or Yaroslav Zhelezniak — full of personal opinions and biases — as legitimate news sources. 

Some will say, “but the war is raging and the hall of the Verkhovna Rada filled with MPs can become a target for an aggressor that wants to get rid of the legitimately elected parliament.” This is exactly how Yevheniia Kravchuk, an MP from the Servant of the People faction, explained the decision to close data on parliament sessions in March of 2022. This would really be a good argument, but there is a catch. 

MPs from the banned Opposition Platform — For Life party, whose leaders have direct ties with the Kremlin, attend and vote at plenary meetings. They know everything about dates, agendas, lists of MPs and invited persons: ministers, the Prime Minister, or the President. And they can provide this information to their Russian contacts. 

Only at the beginning of November, MPs dismissed the “servant” Ihor Vasylkovskyi, who lost his Ukrainian citizenship back in July. And Vasylkovskyi, among others, was a member of the Transport and Infrastructure Committee. He had access to all the materials until the end. Like Vadym Rabinovych who left Ukraine even before the war started and had every tools available for remote work until November 3, when the Parliament dismissed him due to the termination of his Ukrainian citizenship. Yevhen Shevchenko, a supporter of Lukashenko, is still an MP, but at the moment he is reported to be working for the Defense Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. 

In my opinion, the risk presented by collaborators among MPs is much higher than the risk to make the Verkhovna Rada transparent as before. Nevertheless, such MPs do know the plans of the Verkhovna Rada, while society is kept in the dark. 

The parliamentary TV channel is no longer parliamentary 

Until February 24, the main goal of the TV channel Rada was to provide live broadcasts of open meetings of the Parliament, MPs’ briefings, the hour of questions to the Cabinet, etc. But after the large-scale invasion started, live broadcasts stopped, and the channel joined the telethon United News. 

At the beginning of September, MPs made the current state of affairs permanent by passing a resolution prohibiting Rada to broadcast parliamentary sessions live. Recordings of parliamentary meetings are still published on the YouTube channel by Rada, but from 1 to 3 thousand views are far from the real audience that follows the work of the Verkhovna Rada. 

According to the results of the monitoring conducted by Detector Media, the parliamentary TV channel has major problems with the accuracy and reliability of information within the framework of the united telethon. In particular, Rada is the uncontested leader in terms of the amount of black PR. It seems that 320 million hryvnias of funding for growth, which the Parliament allocated for its TV channel, were not converted into quality. 49 million hryvnias were allocated for the work of the Rada channel in the government budget-2023, no growth budget was proposed, unlike in 2021. 

Now the Verkhovna Rada has turned into a classified zone, and it became much easier to push forward draft bills motivated by lobbying and corruption. This is the opinion of Yuliia Tymoshenko, the leader of the Batkivshchyna party. Her fellow party member Andrii Kozhemiakin proves this thesis by his own example. 

He submitted to the Parliament a draft bill which was adopted at sprint speed: from its registration to adoption, only a week passed. An incredible speed considering the wartime. This is the infamous bill that violated the international principles of selling television rights to sports broadcasts. Now the right to broadcast matches belongs not to the organizer of a sports competition (federation), but to the organizer of the sports event (sports club). All this was done for the benefit of oligarchs Ihor Kolomoiskyi, Ihor Surkis, and Hryhorii Kozlovskyi who had a conflict with the Ukrainian Association of Football and its head Andrii Pavelek. According to sports commentators, Andrii Kozhemiakin claimed at the committee that the bill should be adopted for the sake of soldiers who want to watch Ukrainian football games for free. 

Information is unavailable 

The main source of information about the Verkhovna Rada is its official website. It is the place where you can find out about registered draft bills, lists of MPs, factions, committees, dates, agendas, and results of plenary sessions not only of the current but also of previous convocations of the Parliament. Until recently, it was a real treasure trove of open data. 

Now the data offered by the site is significantly limited. Information about the dates of the meetings and their agendas has disappeared. Currently, it is impossible to find information about MPs, draft bills they registered, faction affiliations, and attendance. Information about the parliamentary committees, factions, and groups is also unavailable. 

For example, on the website of the parliamentary Committee on Law Enforcement, the last announced meeting is dated February 23, and the latest news is from April 14. There is no information about upcoming meetings, agendas, or decisions made by the committee. Despite this, the committee prepares and adopts conclusions, which are available in the cards of draft bills. 

And the war is not the only thing to blame here. Back in November 2019, a “new” version of the site was launched, and information was transferred there only partially. There was no complete data on MPs, factions, committees, records of the proceedings, voting results, etc. All this information was available via the “old” version of the site which is still working. But over time, the functionality of the “old” site became more and more limited, while the “new” one was never upgraded. Now, you can find relevant information about factions only using workarounds. 

Do such restrictions help to protect MPs? Unlikely. Information about parliamentarians, their photos, party affiliation, speeches, and even assets are publicly available. Especially since the majority of MPs distribute this information via social media. Moreover, some of them proudly publish videos from their visits to the frontline. This information is more than enough for the intelligence of the enemy. 

But such restrictions significantly complicate public control over the Verkhovna Rada. It is difficult to control something when it is impossible to get even basic information about it from a verified source. 


The Verkhovna Rada is gradually turning into a closed club that operates in shadow mode. The public and businesses get information about the decisions made by it only after the fact and can no longer influence the outcome. The official website of the Parliament offers very limited information about the work of the Verkhovna Rada, and the parliamentary TV channel is busy advertising the Office of the President. 

Without public control and an option for people to influence decisions, the Verkhovna Rada simply turns into a printer for printing laws. The quality, long-term consequences, and benefits of draft bills are no longer discussed. Meanwhile, more and more bills that do not serve the interests of society are submitted and adopted.