When will Ukraine dissolve?

Ukrainian President Zelenskyi wants to dissolve the constitutional court

Kiev - After a controversial ruling to repeal central anti-corruption laws in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Selenskyj wants the constitutional court to be dissolved. The head of state introduced a bill in parliament to "restore public confidence in the constitutional justice system". The presiding judge criticized the plan on Friday as a "constitutional coup". Hundreds demonstrated in Kiev to maintain anti-corruption measures.

Lawyer: "Constitutional coup"

Should the parliament approve Zelenskyi's request, this would amount to a de facto annulment of the court decision on Wednesday. With the dissolution of the current court, the process for its replacement would automatically be started.

The President of the Constitutional Court, Oleksandr Tupytsky, said at a press conference that the bill introduced by Zelenskyi bore the signature of an attempted "constitutional coup". The aim of the project is to create a "neutral, obedient court". "I'm not blaming the president, but his staff are doing a bad job."

Anti-corruption laws

The constitutional judges had declared a number of anti-corruption laws that had been in place for years as invalid, including a rule that information about assets must be publicly available to high-ranking administrative officials. A law to prosecute tax evasion against civil servants has also been repealed. The verdict caused outrage across the country. Zelenskyi described the verdict as "unacceptable" and a "threat to national security".

Hundreds of people marched outside the Kiev courthouse on Friday to express their anger. The protesters held up posters with the words: "Ukrainian Corruption Court" and "Throw the pigs out of the Constitutional Court". 28-year-old anti-corruption activist Iryna Shyba told AFP that without proper legislation, "most government officials would steal with impunity and exploit the Ukrainian budget and Ukraine".

Some protesters threw smoke grenades at the courthouse and threatened to storm the building. Riot police watched what was happening, but did not intervene.

Not a good reputation

The Ukrainian legal system is considered notoriously corrupt. Several constitutional judges are themselves involved in criminal investigations. You are accused of filing false tax returns.

Zelenskyi had called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council after the court decision. The 42-year-old former actor and comedian came to the helm last year after campaigning an ambitious anti-corruption program.

Western states have been calling on the Eastern European country to take a more determined fight against corruption for years. Since the 2014 mass pro-democracy protests that led to the overthrow of then-President Viktor Yanukovych (Yanukovych), several anti-corruption agencies have been set up in the country, including a special anti-corruption court.

On the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Ukraine still ranks 126th out of 198. The EU has warned the Kiev government against suspending the visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens if there is no significant progress in the fight against corruption. (APA / AFP, October 30, 2020)