President Petro Poroshenko is slowly strangling Ukraine’s only independent law enforcement agency, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine. To do so, Poroshenko needs loyal auditors who will assess the NABU and recommend firing its leadership as a result.
One of these auditors, Mykhailo Buromensky, was appointed by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, a presidential loyalist, by stealth at a late-night Cabinet meeting on May 26, when many Ukrainians were either relaxing at home, in bars or restaurants, or heading to their dachas.
Two other auditors have yet to be appointed. They will be nominated by the Verkhovna Rada and Poroshenko himself.
Buromensky was previously delegated by Poroshenko to the Group of States Against Corruption and has been a member of several groups and commissions created by Poroshenko and Groysman.
Regardless of Buromensky’s alleged achievements, the choice is bizarre, given that several well-known foreign prosecutors with immaculate reputations and superb anti-corruption credentials were rejected. Bizarre, until you understand that Poroshenko doesn’t want any independent foreigners nosing around in his kingdom.
This is Poroshenko’s second attempt to have his way: in March he unsuccessfully tried to push through parliament the candidacy of Nigel Brown, another would-be NABU auditor who had previously been investigated in Britain in a bribery case. That attempt broke down amid numerous procedural violations.
At the same time, Poroshenko’s loyal prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, has initiated a criminal case against Gizo Uglava, a deputy chief of the NABU, while parliament is set to consider a bill restricting the NABU’s powers and independence.
Poroshenko must release his grip on the NABU, which is the only tool for delivering justice. Otherwise, he could pave the way for yet another revolution.