Following the bribery scandal involving the dismissed the Supreme Court of Ukraine’s chairman Vsevolod Kniaziev, elected Stanislav Kravchenko as the new chairman, Ukrainian BBC and Channel 24 reported. The voting took place on Friday, May 26.

The candidacy of the new chairman received support from 108 out of the 148 judges present at the plenary session. The plenum was convened to decide on a replacement for Kniaziev, who had been stripped the day before of his chairmanship due to suspicions of bribery.

Experts and activists engaged in judicial reform expressed almost unanimous opposition to Kravchenko’s candidacy, raised several concerns.

Channel 24 states that Kravchenko’s candidacy was proposed by a group of judges from the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and he has 25 years of experience as a judge. Before being elected as the Supreme Court chairman, Kravchenko served as the head of the Criminal Court of Cassation within the Supreme Court.

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In 2011, Kravchenko was elected to the High Specialized Court of Ukraine to consider civil and criminal cases. The creation of this court was part of the reform carried out by the team of Viktor Yanukovych, the fugitive ex-president. After the Revolution of Dignity, on April 23, 2014, Stanislav Kravchenko was appointed deputy chairman of this court.

Moreover, during Kravchenko’s election to the Supreme Court in 2017, the Public Integrity Council issued a negative opinion about the judge, as reported by Ukrainian BBC. Kravchenko made decisions with violations recognized by the European Court of Human Rights.

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Additionally, as pointed out by Mykhailo Zhernakov, representative of the Dejure Foundation, the judge did not declare all of his property. In the declarations for the years 2012-2014, Kravchenko did not indicate ownership of a 900-square-meter plot of land that he had owned since 2002.

He also did not indicate a house located on this land in the declarations for 2004, 2006, and 2009. Currently, all of Kravchenko’s declarations are blocked in accordance with the requirements of martial law.

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During the election, the judge himself did not specifically respond to the press accusations but stated that he “rejects all insinuations.” The judges did not pose specific questions to Kravchenko regarding the issues raised by experts during the election.

Although some judges had initially proposed postponing the voting for at least a week to address the scandal in the press and better prepare, only 24 judges out of 148 supported this proposal.

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