Stand against oligarchs, liquidation of Kyiv District Administrative Court, and control over Naftogaz: presidential initiatives

03 June 2021
Stand against oligarchs, liquidation of Kyiv District Administrative Court, and control over Naftogaz: presidential initiatives
Home > Monitoring > Stand against oligarchs, liquidation of Kyiv District Administrative Court, and control over Naftogaz: presidential initiatives

President Volodymyr Zelensky submitted the bill he announced in the middle of April to the Parliament. MPs have started consideration of the presidential draft bill liquidating the Kyiv District Administrative Court. The bill was promised in November of 2020 when the President considered a petition asking to liquidate the KDAC. Meanwhile, the Cabinet appointed a representative of the President as a member of the supervisory board of Naftogaz.

Stand against oligarchs (5599)

Sponsor: the President.

Who is affected: oligarchs, MPs, the President, ministers, civil servants, and officials.

Summary of the bill:

  • a person is recognized as an oligarch if he or she meets at least three of the following criteria:
  • participates in political life:
  • is an elected top official or is connected to a top official
  • is a member of the governing body of a political party or provides funding for a political party
  • owns a natural monopoly enterprise or has a monopoly in at least one economic sector
  • has significant influence over media:
  • owns a media
  • can have a decisive influence on the work of a media (direct or via proxies)
  • sold media to an associated person or a person of less than impeccable reputation
  • owns assets of more than 1 mln living salaries (near ₴ 2.3 bln) worth
  • a decision to recognize someone as an oligarch will be made by the National Security and Defense Council upon the submission by the Cabinet, a member of the NSDC, the National Bank, the Security Service, or the Anti-Monopoly Committee
  • public servants that had contacted an oligarch (for example, had a meeting or discussed some issue) would be obliged to report such contacts. Failure to do so will be a legitimate cause to dismiss them
  • persons recognized as oligarchs will:
  • not be able to make donations to parties
  • not be able to buy objects of large-scale privatization
  • have to submit asset declarations same as public officials
  • the law will be in effect for 10 years.

What is wrong:

  • the bill will miss its target because “oligarchs” are not always politicians. They usually use proxies to provide support for parties and politicians. If needed, they will also register their assets and property in the name of third-party entities. In short, it will be hard to prove that someone is an oligarch under the law proposed by Zelensky
  • the Constitution does not grant the President the authority to designate anyone as an oligarch. Thus, any such decision can be challenged in court, the proposed draft law — in the Constitutional Court
  • asset declarations for public officials become a tool to punish oligarchs and not an instrument to ensure the transparency of civil servants’ work
  • the bill will create more problems for officials and civil servants than for oligarchs. Since any contact with even those associated with oligarchs will become a legitimate cause for dismissal, public officials and civil servants will be at constant risk.

Alternative solution: to reform the judiciary and ensure the effective work of law enforcement agencies and the Anti-Monopoly Committee. Politicians, officials, and oligarchs that abuse their authority or get their influence from a free and exclusive access to natural monopolies have to be accountable for their actions.

Liquidation of Kyiv District Administrative Court (5369)

Status: included on the parliamentary agenda.

Who is affected: judges of the KDAC, the Cabinet, ministries, central executive bodies, and Ukrainian citizens.

Summary of the bill:

  • liquidates the Kyiv District Administrative Court (KDAC)
  • creates the Kyiv City District Administrative Court
  • for the transition period (until the KDAC is liquidated and the KCDAC is established), cases under the jurisdiction of the KDAC are supposed to be transferred to the Kyiv District Administrative Court — trial administrative court of Kyiv oblast.

What is right: the bill is a temporary solution to the problem with frequent corruption scandals involving judges of the KDAC.

What is wrong:

  • liquidation of the court will not solve the problem of presumable corruption and abuse of powers by some of the judges of the KDAC. They will still be judges and continue to work, probably, even in the newly-created court
  • in truth, the court will be not liquidated but renamed. In 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that in a case when a court is renamed, its judges must be transferred to the newly-created one. Thus, judges of the KDAC will probably be transferred to the Kyiv City District Administrative Court.

Alternative solution: to reform the Higher Council of Justice. The HCJ has powers to clean the KDAC and other courts of dishonest judges.

New member of the Naftogaz supervisory board

Decision-maker: the Cabinet.

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, businesses, energy industry enterprises, MPs, ministries, the Cabinet.

Summary of the order: Yulia Svyrydenko is appointed as a member of the supervisory board of NJSC Naftogaz (as a government representative).

What is wrong:

  • the President once again managed to expand his influence over state institutions outside of his authority. Yulia Svyrydenko is the deputy head of the Office of the President and, thus, his representative. Since she is a part of executive support service — under the direct control of President Volodymyr Zelensky
  • the governmental order is another blow to the balance of power: the Cabinet has less and less power over the executive branch. The President, on the other hand, gets extra leverage to influence the work of the Government since the sole owner of NJSC Naftogaz is the state represented by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. By appointing a person as close to the President, the Government upset the delicate balance of power.

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