George Soros is ready to pay for transition of the Ukrainian militia into a bona fide police force

U.S. billionaire George Soros, whose foundations earlier were a large-scale support of non-government organizations in freedom of speech projects in Ukraine, proposed his assistance to conducting reforms of Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies. Despite this, the drafters of the reform cannot at the moment calculate the necessary amount of money needed for such transformation.

Soros is seeking donors

The Open Society Foundation and the International Renaissance Foundation established by Soros is ready to finance the reform of the militia and Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (MIA), Chair of the Expert Council on Reform of the MIA Yevhen Zakharov told Capital. He said this issue was discussed at a meeting between Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Soros last Monday.

Chairman of the Board of the Renaissance Foundation Oleksandr Sushko confirmed the information about the foundation’s readiness to render financial assistance to implement fundamental reforms, in particular, in the law enforcement system. He specified that a donor conference is scheduled to be held on July 19-21 in order to determine the programs, the terms of their implementation and the volume of financing. Prior to that, the expert council will analyze the financial needs of the ministry for implementation of these reforms.

“Potential donors that will ensure technical support for specific changes will be attracted to this project,” Sushko told Capital. While he could not specify the volume of financing, he said: “I believe that it will be comparable to the level of assistance rendered to Georgia for the reform of its interior ministry.” As a reminder, in 2003-2004 the U.S. fully financed the reform of Georgia’s law enforcement system and even created a payroll fund.

In Ukraine an expert council of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was created by Minister Arsen Avakov in April, is responsible for preparations to reform. The council was given a deadline to draft such reforms within half a year. At the moment, experts are completing their work on the concept of the development of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and submitted its bill on the police and police operation to the council. The project calls for reformatting the structure of bodies of internal affairs into six forms of police: local, administrative, criminal, financial, border and military. The staff of internal affairs bodies will be cut to 15 individuals per every 10,000 citizens and the management of the local police force will be appointed by deputies of local councils.

Reform on hold

Chair of the Expert Council Yevhen Zakharov said the council has so far only been engaged in analyzing the financial aspect of the reform. He said it was planned that calculations would be made on the basis of the results of a pilot project that should have been launched in the Lviv oblast a month ago. Zakharov said the launch of the project was deferred several times by the HQ of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“We will see the results of our proposals following our objective analysis of how much money will be required to conduct all-inclusive reforms based on the example of Lviv,” said Zakharov, who specified that the decree proposed by Azakov obligated the ministry to launch the project by July 7. One of the innovations of the pilot project in the Lviv oblast will be the merger of the patrol service and the Automobile Inspection Department.

One of the drafters of this bill Oleksandr Banchuk told Capital that so far all the drafts of the council are collecting dust in the central body of the MIA. The ministry has not issued its resolution regarding the proposed bill. He also noted that the Government of Canada, USAID and the Council of Europe have expressed their readiness to provide financial assistance for the reform of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.

“The money is ready to be allocated for concrete programs,” said Banchuk. As Capital informed, after the change of government in Ukraine international funds reviewed the priorities of financing programs for the development of civil society in Ukraine, accenting on support of projects in the fight against corruption and the development of local self-government.


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