Prosecutor General’s Office obtains carte blanche to raid anti-corruption NGO
Kyiv’s Pechersky District Court has issued a warrant allowing investigators from the Prosecutor General’s Office to remove documents and other items from the Anti-Corruption Action Centre [AntAC]. They have also been permitted to demand access to confidential information from the NGO’s bank. All of this is, purportedly, how the Prosecutor General’s Office, still under Viktor Shokin, is planning to investigate the disappearance of money donated by US and European partners for reforming the prosecutor’s service.
Vitaly Shabunin, head of the NGO’s Board,
Oleksandra Ustinova, who works for the NGO,
Not surprisingly, the NGO staff have been removing computers, etc. from the office which they expect to face a search any time. It is hard to believe, following the publicity about this that the Prosecutor General’s Office will seriously go ahead with the measures. The rulings make it clear that the NGO had not been called to attend the hearing and it seems likely that it was not supposed to know what was planned.
The reason cited is baffling and appears to be linked with the news on March 16 that the Prosecutor General’s Office would be initiating criminal proceedings over the possible embezzlement of 2.2 million dollars allocated by the USA and EU for reforming the prosecutor’s office.
At a briefing on March 16, Vladislav Kutsenko, a prosecutor from the PGO,
On that same day, the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt
Pyatt is not alone in expressing open frustration with Shokin and his people. The money used in drawing up tests guaranteed to prevent corrupt arrangements were effectively sabotaged by Shokin himself who appointed the old guard in the majority of cases. This is just one of numerous grounds for concern.
After it seemed that Shokin had stepped down, civic activists, lawyers and relatives of Nebesna Sotnya, those killed during Euromaidan, even issued a public statement calling for a proper competition so that the fourth Prosecutor General since Euromaidan actually kept the promises they all make, including on fighting corruption.
As the end of March approaches, it is not even entirely clear that Shokin is planning to vacate his post, and the struggle at present seems more akin to an offensive against an NGO fighting corruption.