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26.03.2014

Parliament kills vital anti-corruption law

   

The Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday passed one important law on increasing transparency of public procurement and then proved incapable of passing another law which would have prevented concealment of real estate ownership.  Only 175 MPs for a draft law on amendments to Article 28 of the Law on State Registration of Real Estate Ownership.  This bill, No. 3378, would have opened access to information regarding ownership, and is therefore clearly a crucial step in preventing corruption.

The vote is broken down by factions here.   The communists proved most resistant to a move aimed at preventing "filthy capitalists" from concealing their private property from the public, with not one MP present for the vote. Only two MPs from the formerly ruling and still largest Party of the Regions faction - Anna Herman and Viktor Turmanov voted for the bill.

The bill was not supported by a worrying number of MPs from the parties which were present on Maidan during the EuroMaidan protests.  The leaders of Batkivshchyna; UDAR and VO Svoboda made all the right promises about accountability and openness.  Many failed to take part in the vote while some abstained. 

Out of 88 Batkivshchyna MPs, 64 voted for the bill; 1 abstained; 13 did not vote; and 10 were absent

Of the 41 UDAR MPs, 25 voted for; 2 did not take part in the vote and 14 were absent.

32 out of the 35 VO Svoboda party voted for the bill; 1 failed to vote and two were absent.

There were also votes, abstentions and absences from MPs of newly formed factions.

Ukrainska Pravda journalist Serhiy Leshchenko, many of whose articles have exposed corrupt dealings by Ukraine’s leaders, commented on the Internet that "some MPs seem to have forgotten the smell of burning car tires", i.e. the Maidan protests. 

He notes that MPs tried to find ways to give their lack of support a better appearance.  Party of the Regions MP Zarubinsky, for example, claimed that there were raiders seizing land and that opening up the register would put people in danger.

The danger is surely more immediate of a situation where the country’s leaders and legislators can secretly own vast amounts of property.  The public is thus deprived of access to information which would give the lie to their income declarations as well as their avowals of commitment to fighting corruption.

The Reanimation Package of Reforms Initiative had demanded adoption of an anti-corruption package (draft laws No. 2207; 3378; 3678; 0947).  It’s demands are reiterated by the CHESNO movement which calls on MPs with decency who remember the demands fo Maidan to table the draft law again and adopt it in the form agreed with the public.

 

Halya Coynash

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