A fight with a shadow: What was the reason for searches in the County administrative court of Kyiv

A fight with a shadow: What was the reason for searches in the County administrative court of Kyiv

On Friday, the 26th of July, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NACB) and General Prosecutor's Office unexpectedly searched the premises of the County administrative court of Kyiv (CACK). According to the press service of NACB, the searches were carried out “as part of the investigation of the possible commission of criminal offenses by the chairperson and individual judges of CACK”.

Serhii Horbatiuk, Head of the Administration for special investigations of the General Prosecutor's Office later defined more precisely, that the prosecutor’s office had prepared a report on suspicion of the leadership and four judges on the facts of interference with the activities of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQC). NACB made public the recordings of alleged conversations of judges, where they were discussing with different persons cases considered by the court.

The news about the search and subsequent statements of the prosecutors did not leave the front pages of the leading websites for a good half day, causing great joy to everyone who is waiting for the start of a real fight against corruption in the country. But, on the other hand, they also raised a lot of questions.

For example, why now? The court in the current composition has been working for a long time and different politicians have many claims to it for a long time. Records showed by NACB were made not yesterday. Zelenskyi is President also not for the first week. Why have they come just now?

The country did not hear the official answer to that question. But it can be recalled here that on June 15, the president gathered leaders of anti-corruption bodies and set an ultimatum: either they demonstrate a noticeable progress in the fight against corruption in three months or are the “re-loading” is waiting for them. In plain language, mass dismissals. More than a month has passed and no one has seen any significant achievements. Prosecutor's officers urgently need a high-profile case. And to come with searches to the court is a win-win strategy. People don’t like judges in the country even more than useless anti-corruption prosecutors. Bingo? Almost, but not quite.

Even officially, claims against judges have nothing to do with the fight against corruption. The court is administrative, not economic one. Judges are accused of taking decisions in the sphere of the judicial system, the illegality of which is difficult to prove, even if they are really illegal. And this is not the only one alarming moment.

The well-known lawyer Rostyslav Kravets noted several details that were modestly “missed out” in the prosecutor's office.

So, searches in court formally took place with regard to the “case of Maidan”. To which the appointments and powers of the members of HQC provided after the execution of the Heavenly Hundred have nothing to do. It gets worse and worse as it goes on. Searches were conducted on the basis of a determination of a judge of Desnianskyi court of Chernihiv (!) which is simply a short text without any grounds and without indication who is responsible for the search; this fact will most certainly shock the judges of the European Court of Human Rights if this case ever gets to them. At the same time, prosecutors even violated it when instead of copies indicated in it seized the originals of the cases in charge. They have actually paralyzed the work of the court, where more than difficult cases are investigated. Thus, in May, it was the District Administrative Court that recognized the nationalization of PrivatBank in 2016 as illegal. On the 22nd of April, the same court suspended the order of the Ministry of Culture on the mandatory renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

There are other strange moments. We remind that the prosecutor's office reported that they have suspicions for four judges. But they were questioned, for some strange reason, as witnesses without presenting any suspicion.

“They know that, in accordance with the explicit provision of the Criminal Procedure Code , the testimonies of these persons as witnesses cannot be used in the court. And of course, they know that the lack of the arguido deprives the judges for whom suspicions have been prepared but not handed over of the possibility of the full-fledged defense”, believes the expert. 

And more horrendous, in his opinion, is the publication of the materials of “wiretapping” before handing over suspicions. Unless, of course, this is not a complete cutting, which no one is going to take to the court.

Rostyslav Kravets believes that prosecutor Horbatiuk was framed and used. According to the expert, all that was arranged by the former Deputy Presidential Chief of Staff Oleksii Filatov, who is afraid of losing power over the judicial corps.

“Everyone knows from the same previously published media records about the full control of the Poroshenko administration over NACB. I hope we will hear soon the conversations of the members of the HQC with Filatov and Benedesiuk about whom to dismiss, whom and where to transfer, whom to appoint as a judge, etc. And maybe the instructions to the judges, what decision to make”, wrote Kravets in his Facebook account.

The version of Kravets has the right to live — everyone knows that Poroshenko has placed his people in all anti-corruption bodies. And they could easily get wants and needs met — to demonstrate the zeal of the new government and fulfill the order of the old one.

However if it will be recalled that the court is administrative, and not any other, then other versions are possible. For example, for whom is extremely important now the control over the court, in which it is possible to challenge official decisions? Obviously, that one who takes them, i.e. new and not old government.

It is no secret that Zelenskyi team has planned large-scale personnel shake-up. Right up to Vitali Klitschko’s dismissal from the post of the head of the Kyiv City State Administration that is if not beyond the bounds of the law, then definitely somewhere near it. If Klitschko and other officials begin to challenge the decisions of the authorities, and the judges will take quite true verdicts and cancel Zelenskyi’s “reforms” in bunches, then how much will remain from his rating to local elections? Which, by the way, also needs to be somehow appointed to bypass the law ... There is no doubt that the Office of the President needs, very needs a “finger-tip” administrative court. And the public can only guess what they go to great lengths to gain it.

So, what was all that about? There were several versions, as we can see, already at the end of the day. And the most reliable is still the simplest one, i.e. the new government wants to get what the old one almost succeeded in: take control over the judicial system. And a mass of bankrupt anti-corruption bodies of the Poroshenko times assiduously help it with that saving their own butts. The fight against corruption announced on the screen has nothing in common with the real fight against corruption, as usual.

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