This week will be remembered not only for endless amendments to the Land Code but also for unexpected and unprecedented governmental decisions. A new minister was appointed and the Cabinet decided to reshuffle the management of a very important state-owned company. The reshuffle will not improve the investment climate of Ukraine. At the same time, MPs voted on several bills of some consequences to the functioning of the state and human rights.
Cabinet reshuffle and changes in Naftogaz management
Decision-makers: the Cabinet and the President.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, businesses, energy industry enterprises, MPs, ministries, and the Cabinet.
Decrees in a nutshell:
- Yurii Vitrenko was dismissed as the First Deputy of the Minister of Energy and the Acting Minister of Energy
- Herman Halushchenko, the former vice-president of Energoatom, was appointed in his stead
- the Cabinet reshuffled Naftogaz management:
- dismissed three independent members and three state representatives of the supervisory board (although they retain their positions for half a year)
- announced competitions for all positions of independent members of the supervisory board
- dismissed Andrii Kobolev as the CEO and appointed Yurii Vitrenko in his stead for a year.
Why this is important:
- in 2020, Naftogaz paid over 140 bln UAH of taxes — over 13% of the government budget total annual revenue. The proper work of this company is of critical importance for the economy, citizens, and businesses.
- Naftogaz is the leading company in the energy industry in Ukraine. The proper functioning of cities and businesses, quality of life of Ukrainian citizens depend on its work.
What is wrong:
- changes to Naftogaz management were made suddenly, without a prior warning to the chairpersons of the management and supervisory boards. Decision on the appointment of Yurii Vitrenko was made several hours after been suggested by the President and the Prime Minister
- the way the decision was made makes it clear that micromanaging of state companies is back. The decision goes against the principles of the corporate management reform aimed at diminishing the political influence over the state companies’ activities
- the Cabinet allegedly violated the Naftogaz charter since it can dismiss the CEO only if such a proposal is submitted by the supervisory board. However, it is possible that the Cabinet has changed the charter and gave itself the necessary authority. If the Cabinet did violate the charter, Andrii Kobolev and members of the supervisory board can challenge the decision in court.
More funding for local and appeal courts (5304)
Decision-maker: the Parliament.
Status: passed in the first reading. MPs have time to amend the draft bill.
Who is affected: Paralympians, Deaflympians, the State judiciary administration, judges, and court employees.
Draft bill in a nutshell: 600 mln UAH allocated for the preparations and competition of the Ukrainian national Paralympic and Deaflympic teams will be used as additional funding for local and appeal courts.
Why this is important: according to information provided by MPs, courts are funded only for 38.4% in 2021. There is not enough money for remuneration of court employees even at a minimum level and for other necessary spendings (envelopes, stamps, etc.).
What is right: sufficient funding for courts is necessary for the proper work of the judiciary.
What is wrong:
- the Cabinet has to allocate enough money while preparing the draft of the government budget and not by the last moment hotfixes. The state has problems with its budgetary process and financial planning and these problems negatively affect state policies
- funding is taken from Paralympians and Deaflympians. That will damage their motivation and preparedness, so it will be hard to expect that they will perform as successfully as in the Paralympics of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro when the Ukrainian national team got 117 medals and the third place in the team scoring
- the budget deficit in 2021 is 246 bln UAH, 22% percent of the total revenue. It means that the budget is tight and it is important to spend it wisely.
Voted for the bill: Servant of the People (212), Batkivshchyna (15), For the Future (5), Trust (17), and Holos (12).
Collection of genetic information (4265)
Decision-maker: the Parliament.
Status: sent back for revision. The draft has to be substantially amended before been resubmitted to the Parliament.
Who is affected: investigators, prosecutors, judges, criminals, suspects, and servicemen.
Draft bill in a nutshell:
- introduces mandatory state registration of genetic information:
- about persons convicted for intentional crimes against life, health, sexual freedom, or sexual integrity
- about persons put under pre-trial restraint as suspected of such crimes
- about persons guilty of such crimes that undergo compulsory medical treatment
- unidentified materials impounded in the course of pre-trial investigations
- from unidentified human bodies and remains
- genetic information will be collected from soldiers that volunteered or were drafted
- Ukrainian citizens, foreigners, and stateless persons will be allowed to provide their genetic information if they want to
- information will be gathered for preventing crimes, identifying criminals, tracing missing persons, and identifying persons
- the database will be held and maintained by the Ministry of Internal Affair and administered by the science and research center under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Why this is important: the ministry collects genetic information since 2009 (by its own decision). It has accumulated over 34 thousand DNA profiles by now. In 2020, this information was used to identify over 300 persons involved in criminal activities.
What is right: criminals whose genetic information is registered in the database will be easier to find.
What is wrong:
- collection of genetic information from suspects is a tool easy to abuse. Information can be gathered not only from criminals but also from innocent persons as a way to threaten and control them
- the bill proposes to gather information from persons guilty of misdemeanors. For example, illegal treating activity, failure to assist persons in mortal danger, minor assault, battery, threats of homicide, etc. It provides plenty of opportunities for abuse and illegal pressure
- the database is held by the agency that is engaged in the process and has its own interest in investigations and their results — the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This violates the principles of human rights protection: the investigative body cannot be impartial to the results of investigations and has an opportunity to abuse its power.
Voted for the bill: Servant of the People (207), Batkivshchyna (9), Fort the Future (11), Trust (11), and Holos (8).
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