Odessa EuroMaidan blocks attempt to sabotage law on cleaning up judiciary
On Wednesday morning EuroMaidan activists blocked all entrances to the Odessa Law Academy where they had reason to believe a secret congress of law institutes had been called by Serhiy Kivalov, Party of the Regions MP and president of the academy.
Espreso.tv reports that there were around 40 activists who were determined to prevent Kivalov from holding the congress aimed at secretly voting in their quota of members of the High Council of Justice. The protesters had a copy of a ruling from the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv banning the congress.
The suspicions would appear to have been founded and a congress indeed planned. It was adjourned until 15.00 while the original of the court ruling was obtained.
The HCJ is made up of 20 members all of whom must be re-elected in accordance with the “Law on reinstating trust in Ukraine’s judiciary” [No. 4378-1] The HCJ was given considerable power under the regime of Viktor Yanukovych, and this power was often used against judges who dared show any independence. The law specifically requires a completely new intake of members of this body and the High Qualification of Judges Commission. More details here: Creating a trustworthy judiciary.
As well as the court ban on the congress, the leading law institutes of Kharkiv, Lviv and Kyiv have not sent delegates. Yet an attempt was clearly underway to hold the event and “vote in” new members of the HCJ. A similar attempt was made in Kyiv on the eve of parliament’s vote on the law. That was also thwarted
Serhiy Kivalov was a key figure in the judicial changes made under Yanukovych which gravely undermined the judiciary and increased political pressure on judges. He gained widespread notoriety (as well as brownie points with Yanukovych)as the head of the Central Election Commission who in 2004 declared Yanukovych president despite flagrantly rigged elections.