These “crushing blows” to the fight against corruption “require” an “immediate and severe” reaction, he said in a statement issued by the Kiev presidency.
Referred to by 50 pro-Russian deputies, the Constitutional Court of the former Soviet republic announced on Wednesday evening that it had invalidated many anti-corruption measures in force for several years, considering them too severe.
In particular, the court annulled criminal liability for officials convicted of false information in wealth declarations, a crime punishable by two years in prison.
This decision has provoked protests among government agencies and NGOs, while the Ukrainian judiciary is known to be corrupt and many judges of the Constitutional Court are themselves targeted by criminal investigations for false information in their wealth declarations.
The head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmitro Kuleba, expressed his regret on Thursday in an online briefing about a “serious blow” to the relations between Kiev and the West.
The Ukrainian ambassador to the EU has already warned the government that this decision “is a sufficient reason for the European Commission to activate the mechanism for suspending the visa waiver regime” with Ukraine, the electronic publication Evropeiska Pravda was quoted as saying by agerpres.ro.
The Ukrainian authorities will do everything to “solve this problem” and “ensure that the anti-corruption structures work properly,” Dmitro Kuleba said.
Anti-corruption activists announced a protest action in front of the Constitutional Court in Kiev on Friday.
The fight against corruption among the elites was a major claim of the pro-European protest movement in Maidan Nezaliojosti (Independence Square) in 2013-2014. This remains one of the main requirements of Ukraine’s international creditors.
Volodymyr Zelenski, a former comedy actor, a novice in politics, won an overwhelming score in the 2019 presidential election mainly due to his promise to eradicate corruption. In recent months, however, the West has expressed concern about the risks of a setback in the fight against this scourge.