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Activists accuse prosecutor general of lying about EU’s statements

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About 20 activists attended a rally against Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in front of the Prosecutor General's Office on Sept. 23.

The protesters put on Pinocchio’s noses, a symbol of lies.

Specifically, the demonstrators protested against President Petro
Poroshenko’s recent statement that the EU had no complaints against the
four candidates appointed by Shokin to the commission for choosing the
chief anti-corruption prosecutor. The protesters accused Shokin of lying
and deceiving Poroshenko about the EU’s position.

On Sept. 21, the EU’s representative office in Ukraine said, citing Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine Jan Tombinski, that the expert community and civil society
representatives have expressed their valid concerns on the appointments
done to the selection committee by the prosecutor general.”

“I would
like to call for an urgent necessity to have full confidence of the
society in the members of the selection commission appointed both by
Verkhovna Rada and the prosecutor general,” he said.

There has been a backlash in civil society against Shokin’s decision to appoint First Deputy
Prosecutor General Yury Sevruk and Yury Hryshchenko, head of the
office’s main investigative department, to the commission. The move has also been criticized by Artem Sytnik, head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Sevruk has been accused of sabotaging reform at the Prosecutor
General’s Office by attacking Deputy Prosecutor General Sakvarelidze’s testing system to appoint
new prosecutors. Hryshchenko has been lambasted because he was the
boss of Volodymyr Shapakin, former first deputy head of the main
investigative department, who was arrested in a sting operation
organized by Sakvarelidze in
July and charged with bribery.

Instead of Hryshchenko and Shalaisky, the demonstrators proposed appointing Giovanni Kessler, director general of the European Anti-Fraud
Office, and journalist Oleksa Shalaisky from the Nashi Hroshi
anti-corruption project.

The commission for selecting the chief anti-corruption prosecutor comprises 11 people, including four chosen by the prosecutor general
and seven by the Verkhovna Rada. It started working on Sept. 21.

Lawmakers and civic activists have called for firing Shokin and accused him of dragging his feet on high-profile corruption cases and sabotaging Sakvarelidze’s efforts to crack down on corruption and recruit new prosecutors through a transparent hiring process. Shokin denies the accusations.

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