Melanesian islanders once built copies of U.S air bases out of straw and coconut trees, thinking that this would bring them Western wealth. Ukraine’s ongoing judicial reform is just such an empty ritual – the authorities are now building a mock Supreme Court to placate the nation’s Western partners. They are imitating Western procedures, but in reality it is all a sham. While civil society has been involved in the process (the Public Integrity Council, a civic watchdog, has vetoed Supreme Court candidates that it deems to be corrupt or dishonest), the High Qualification Commission, a governing body of the judiciary, is overriding the overwhelming majority of those vetoes. In late June the number of overridden vetoes reached 78 percent, though now it has fallen to 71 percent – apparently in response to the public uproar. The message is clear: for the incumbent authorities, civil society is a façade that they use for public relations stunts, but effectively ignore and spurn. Without civil society’s trust, the Supreme Court and the judiciary in general will have no legitimacy whatsoever. A corrupt and lawless judiciary will change its colors with the shifting fortunes of Ukrainian politics, subservient to the other branches of power. Last year, not a single judge was fired as a result of a meaningless vetting process intended to cleanse the judiciary’s ranks of unprofessional and dishonest judges. Moreover, President Petro Poroshenko has refused to create an independent anti-corruption court that would do what Ukraine’s current judiciary is utterly incapable of – delivering justice. The situation has gotten so out of hand that Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Jan Tombinski, the European Union’s ex-ambassador to Ukraine, and Hugues Mingarelli, the EU’s incumbent ambassador, have had to publicly criticize the troubling process. This mockery has got to stop: Ukrainian society and the West should put an end to Poroshenko’s efforts to fool the Ukrainian people again. Otherwise, the result will be another sham reform that no one believes in.

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