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04.04.2014

Behind the declarations: how public officials lived – and live now

   

Just one of the rooms at Mezhyhirya finally seen by the public after Yanukovych fled late on Feb 21, 2014.  The images from his residence, as well as that of Viktor Pshonka, Prosecutor General and others have been published in the world media - for their outrageous opulence, not taste

Public officials under Viktor Yanukovych spent amounts vastly in excess of the figures they officially earned or received in dividends, etc.   Those who monitored officials back then have no intention of shutting up shop now and will be watching officials in 2014 just as closely.

Monitors from around the country took part in a campaign coordinated by Transparency International Ukraine and entitled “Declarations without Decoration”. They examined over 400 declarations made public by officials for 2011 and 2012 and gathered them together into one database: www.anticorruption.in.ua/declarations/map.

Their results were made public at a press conference on April 1.  They, and experts from the Justice Ministry, are clear that legislation needs to be changed. At present this makes it possible for officials to not give the truth on their declarations.

Former Energy Minister Edward Stavytsky and his family had an official yearly income of less than 3 million UAH [already huge by Ukrainian standards].  According to the monitors, Stavytsky’s lifestyle suggests that he had around 800 million UAH at his disposal.

According to the head of Transparency International in Ukraine, Oleksy Khmara, they have only now made public the findings of their monitoring since under Yanukovych regime they feared persecution, and expected the information to be muffled.

They found dozens of cases where officials were living in sumptuous conditions which had no relation to their official income.

Some officials did declare large sums.  Mykhailo Dobkin, former Kharkiv Governor who is now the official Party of the Regions presidential candidate, declared over 10 million UAH, while Gennady Kernes, Mayor of Kharkiv’s official income came to 16 million UAH. 

According to preliminary estimates, almost 90% of the ministers in the new government have declarations in line with their lifestyle, but they believe that only one in 10 directors of State enterprises is honestly filling out official declarations.

According to a Justice Ministry spokesperson, Andriy Kukharchuk, current legislation allows officials to tell lies.  They have drawn up a draft bill no. 4556 on improving anti-corruption legislation.  This would add criminal liability for deliberately understating ones income.   Work on new declarations is aimed at ensuring that business interests cannot be concealed.

See:  Ukraine: the book scandal that never was about the 15 million in “royalties” Yanukovych declared over 2 years for books never written, from a printing company that didn’t in fact publish books.

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