In a win for Ukrainian civil society, and a step closer to EU integration, the Ukrainian parliament passed a law Wednesday in favor of making top officials' assets declarations available to the public.
“341 votes in the Parliament are in favor of opening the electronic declarations registry! Kudos to the president, who vetoed the law, [plus to the] 80k+ people who signed the petition to the president and everyone who insisted on this reform,” Olena Halushka, the head of Kyiv Anti-Corruption Action Centre tweeted.
341 votes in the Parliament are in favour of opening the electronic declarations registry! Kudos to president who vetoed the law, 80k+ people who signed the petition to the president and everyone who insisted on this reform pic.twitter.com/vuqH5YKAbl— Olena Halushka (@OlenaHalushka) September 20, 2023
In October 2016, Kyiv put into force a law requiring that tens of thousands of public servants – including civil servants, politicians, and judges – declare their assets online and that the information be publicly available.
The legislation was viewed as a major step in Ukraine’s fight against corruption, and it was applauded as one of the innovations that followed Ukraine’s 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution – which was seen as a battle against corruption and for integration with the West.
However, after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, put a halt to the online asset declarations – due to the difficulties involved with determining assets when those assets could be under Russian occupation.
Despite the war, the Verkhovna Rada and the Ukrainian president have remained focused on following the European Union’s recommendations to be ready for an assessment in October that would lead to talks with the EU in December.
In an address to the Verkhovna Rada on Sept. 3, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky identified reinstating electronic asset declarations as a critical step toward EU integration.
When the Verkhovna Rada met on Sept. 5, it passed legislation reinstating asset declarations but also accepted an amendment that would have made information about the assets not publicly available for a year.
However, civil society was immediately outraged and by the next day put together a petition that would exceed 80,000 signatures calling on Zelensky to veto the draft law and demand that the information be publicly available.
On Sept. 12, Zelensky obliged – standing against some of his own party members – and called on parliament to make officials’ assets information publicly available once again.
Exceptions still apply to certain categories of people, such as those serving in the armed forces.
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