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In Brussels about the struggle against corruption, lustration and reforms in Ukraine

The Open Dialog Foundation, in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Europabüro Brüssel, organised an informal meeting in Brussels on the current progress of the reforms in Ukraine. Upon an invitation from the organisers, corruption, lustration and reforms of the judiciary in Ukraine were discussed, amongst others, by the deputy to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Olena Sotnyk and Oleksandra Drik of the Community Lustration Committee. A statement was also delivered by the Head of the Foundation’s Board, Bartosz Kramek. The event was attended by representatives of EU institutions, international non-governmental organisations, journalists and students.

Bartosz Kramek pointed to the impunity of corruption in Ukraine and its systemic nature. In his view, in addition to legislative solutions, a shift also has to be brought about in the mentality of the Ukrainians. Concrete reforms, therefore, should be implemented in order to show the society that changes are happening. At the moment, the omnipresent corruption along with the general feeling of powerlessness and impossibility to bring the guilty ones to justice is provoking a widespread social discontent, which could lead to acts of self-justice if not addressed.

Oleksandra Drik referred to the process of lustration and appealed for international support. She also talked about huge social pressure for the changes to be made immediately. Ms Drik claimed that the lustration process is, currently, the only functioning tool – albeit not perfect – that allows to fight corruption and step-by-step to renew the system.

The discussion was also joined by Olena Sotnyk, deputy to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada and member of the European Integration Committee. Sotnyk presented the current situation as seen through the eyes of Ukrainian parliamentarians. She talked about the implementation of anti-corruption law and plans for the development of special anti-corruption bodies and agencies. In conclusion, she noted the need to include anti-corruption procedures in the election laws, in particular with regard to regulations on the financing of political parties and lobbies.

Other deputies to Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada: Victoria Ptashnyk, Nataliia Agafonova, Nataliia Katser-Buchkovska, Alex Ryabchyn and Alona Shkrum, as well as journalists and representatives of European institutions and non-governmental organisations participated in the discussion too.

Ms Agafonova argued that in order to fight corruption, one has to prevent corruption in the first place and, therefore, underlined the great need to cut the existing mechanisms, which enforce the corruptive system. 

On the other hand, Ms Shkrum indicated that Ukraine has already enough structures and official bodies tasked with condemning and fighting corruption. The problem, in her opinion, lies in the fact that these bodies do not function properly. More transparency is needed to ensure the proper functioning of the existing anti-corruption mechanisms. In order to achieve that, increased pressure should come both from the inside and from the outside. 

Representatives of the European institutions and organisations, responding to the appeals for support made by the Ukrainian speakers, ensured them of their support but also urged the deputies to Verkhovna Rada to fully use the tools they have at hand to address their government and authorities with concrete questions, requiring clear answers.  

Using the occasion of the event, the Open Dialog Foundation additionally organised a series of direct meetings for our guest delegation with Members of the European Parliament, to discuss the problems with corruption in Ukraine, as well as the current developments of the situation in the country, both with regard to the reforms and the conflict in the East.

The delegation met with the Vice-President of the European Parliament, Mr Ryszard Czarnecki, with the Vice-Chair of the EP’s Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Mr Tibor Szanyi, as well as with other supportive MEPs, Mr Victor Bostinaru and Mr Ivan Stefanec. The visit to Brussels has also been an occasion to meet with the Head of the Ukrainian Mission to the EU, Mr Kostiantyn Yelisieiev.

Facilitating direct meetings between representatives of the Ukrainian civil and political society and the representatives of the European and international institutions and organisations are part of the Open Dialog Foundation’s mission and provide a unique opportunity for both sides to exchange first-hand information and directly discuss the situation in the country.