The Venice Commission is ready to cancel lustration of Ukrainian officials

The Venice Commission is ready to cancel lustration of Ukrainian officials
New obstacles may be put up on the path to lustration in Ukraine
Photo: Unian

Today, the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission, EC) will hold a meeting where its members will decide whether the Law On Cleansing of Power conforms with democratic standards. According to Capital’s sources, European experts have prepared a list of recommendations for Kyiv. Their implementation will significantly narrow the circle of officials subject to lustration and complicate the process of its implementation.

Reputational risks

Suspecting negative results of the commission’s vote for Kyiv, the Ukrainian delegation made up of MPs, Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko and employees from his agency urgently left for Venice the other day.

“Ukraine’s friends in the Venice Commission say that it may recognize Ukrainian lustration inhuman and non-European without consulting Ukrainian society, meeting the authors of the law and understanding how our courts and other government agencies work,” said MP and one of the authors of the law Yehor Sobolev (Samopomich) before leaving for Venice. He says the purpose of the visit is to explain Ukrainian realities to the members of the commission.

As a reminder, the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe asked the Venice Commission to analyze Ukraine’s lustration law in early October. According to Capital’s information, the appeal was initiated by the committee’s member and MP Yulia Lyovochkina (Opposition Bloc), who is the sister of the former Chief of the Presidential Administration (PA) Serhiy Lyovochkin. The latter’s colleague in the faction, a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy and Justice Dmytro Shpenov, believes that the presence of MPs during the session of the Venice Commission will only do damage to our country. “Europe has established democratic values, which is why protests or blocking of podiums does not help there,” he said.

The draft resolution has already been published on the website of the Venice Commission and its members will vote for it. In particular, it is said that the guilt of officials must be proven in every case. Kyiv has also been offered to change the criteria of lustration, whereby cleansing would affect only those positions in which officials may pose actual danger to human rights or democracy. In addition, administrative decisions on lustrated officials should be suspended until the final judgments are made.

Ukraine’s representative to the Venice Commission MP Serhiy Kivalov (independent) said the conclusions of the Venice Commission are simply recommendations. “But traditionally it is desirable to implement these recommendations. In case of failure, it could entail loss of reputation, which for Ukraine, as a member of the Council of Europe, is not good,” he confirmed. Kivalov added that he did not attend the meetings of the commission at which the Ukrainian issue was addressed. The presence of a representative of the country the legislation of which is analyzed is forbidden by the rules of the VC.

Changes suggest themselves

Findings and observations of the Venice Commission on the law on lustration will be submitted for consideration to the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy and Justice. Committee member Anton Kisse (Economic Development) predicts that the provisions of the law should be changed in the near future, even regardless of the findings of European experts. His colleague on the committee Borys Filatov (independent) notes that even today implementation of the law shows “abnormal practices” of its application. “For example, in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast the Chief of the Security Service was dismissed, though he was appointed to the office after Turchynov was elected to office. He ensured a calm situation in the region, but fell under a formal provision of the law,” he said.

Earlier, Prosecutor General Vitaliy Yarema said the Presidential Administration has prepared amendments to the law on lustration, which should eliminate the issues on the agenda. Capital’s source in the AP confirmed that such a bill has been drafted. Specifically, the source noted that changes in the criteria of officials that fall under lustration and amnesty for participation in the ATO will be made.

One of the authors of the current lustration law Karl Volokh says that activists are also preparing a version of amendments to the document. In particular, the case of lustration of each judge will be examined individually. At the same time, Natalya Novak (member of PPB) doubts that the parliament will vote for changes to the lustration law in the foreseeable future. "Even before the adoption of the law on lustration international experts noted that the document was declarative and dysfunctional. The law had a populist pre-election nature. This always gives such an effect,” she said.

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