Western pressure on Ukraine
BSSB.BE intellinews.com 12.06.2018
* Ukraine has received $8.4bn from the IMF so far under the lender’s programme.
Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has in the second reading greenlighted a law necessary to set up an independent anti-corruption court in the country.
On June 7, the motion was supported by overwhelming majority of lawmakers – 315 of them voted for the document with a minimum of 226 votes needed.
The establishing of the anti-corruption court is a crucial condition for a new tranche from a $17.5bn support package agreed by Kyiv with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2015. Ukraine has received $8.4bn from the IMF so far under the lender’s programme.
However, it was unclear immediately after voting, whether the adopted law meets Kyiv’s promises given to the IMF, other donors and the nation’s Western backers. The most controversial clause of the law concerned the decisive role of the public council of international experts in the selection of the court’s judges.
Specifically the law should meet all the conditions laid out in detail in the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe that basically wrote their own version of the law and expected Ukraine to enact it. The number and size of any discrepancies between the two drafts will be the point on which the IMF acceptance of the new law will turn.
“My sense is that the IMF will want to read and study the final text very carefully before committing, to make sure no funny business was included at the last minute,” Timothy Ash, a senior sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, wrote in a note on June 7.
On the eve of voting in the Verkhovna Rada, the ambassadors of the G7 countries “have encouraged” the parliament to pass the document, adding that international experts must play a central role in the selection of the court’s judges. “We support the IMF’s assessment on this and whether other key features of the law fulfil its conditions,” the G7 ambassadors added.
The parliament’s motion was supported, specifically, by 123 lawmakers from the Bloc of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, 70 – from the People’s Front, 22 – from Samopomich, 14 – from Batkivschyna, and two votes each from the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc and Oleh Liashko’s Radical Party.
Meanwhile, Heather Nauert, the US State Department’s spokesperson said in a statement on June 5 that the establishment of the genuinely independent anti-corruption court is the most important, immediate step the government can take to meet those demands and roll back corruption that continues to threaten Ukraine’s national security, prosperity, and democratic development.
“The US fully supports the IMF, which will determine whether a new law establishing the court is consistent with Ukraine’s commitments under its IMF programme,” the statement reads. “We agree with the IMF that any legislation establishing an anti-corruption court must include a central role for a council of international experts to ensure the selection of qualified judges.”
Nauert added that the US wants to be clear that legislation establishing the court must satisfy the IMF, which provides essential financial support to the Ukrainian government.
“We, therefore, encourage the Ukrainian government to discuss relevant legislative proposals directly with the IMF and to pass a bill that meets IMF requirements. The anti-corruption court has important work to do on behalf of the people of Ukraine.”
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