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Concerns Expressed About Ukraine’s New Anti-Corruption Auditor
29 May, 2017
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What You Need To Know:

✅ The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) – a Ukrainian institution that hopes to be at the forefront of the fight against corruption — has chosen the first of three independent auditors, Ukrainian lawyer and academic Mykhailo Buromenskiy.

✅ “There is a risk because Mr. Buromenskiy does not have the experience in the law-enforcement agencies abroad because he’s a rather theoretical person,” – Oleksandr Kalitenko, an expert for political analysis at Transparency International.

✅ Experienced candidates such as Robert Storch, Giovanni Kessler, Carlos Castresans, and Martha Boersch are still in the running to fill the other two positions.

✅ “We have during the last few years very good experience of cooperation with Professor Buromenskiy in different types of cooperation,” explains Bohdan Kryklyvenko, Head of the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) – a Ukrainian institution that hopes to be at the forefront of the fight against corruption — has chosen the first of three independent auditors, Ukrainian lawyer and academic Mykhailo Buromenskiy. According to his assessment, the Head of NABU, Artem Sytnyk could be fired.

In April, Ukrainian parliamentarians failed to elect an auditor, so the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Volodymyr Groysman, made the decision to appoint Buromenskiy, President of the Institute of Applied Humanitarian Research with experience as a legal expert for the European Union, the World Bank, the OSCE and others. However, the law demands that a candidate has substantial work experience in law-enforcement agencies, prosecutor offices or courts abroad or in international organizations, which made many Ukrainian civil society activists doubt this appointment.

The fact that he was preferred over many prosecutors that are known worldwide is challenging as well as the fact that Buromenskiy is a member of the Presidential Constitutional Committee of Ukraine, which is headed by PM Groysman.

“There is a risk because Mr. Buromenskiy does not have experience in law-enforcement agencies abroad because he’s a rather theoretical person,” says Oleksandr Kalitenko, an expert for political analysis at Transparency International. Given that this will be the first audit for NABU’s law enforcement body, Kalitenko says the auditor should be experienced.

Experienced candidates such as Robert Storch, Giovanni Kessler, Carlos Castresans, and Martha Boersch are still in the running to fill the other two positions. One should be appointed by the President and the other should be appointed by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament),” says Kalitenko.

While the Ukrainian pubic has already voiced their discontent with the appointment of Buromenskiy, some say he is qualified: “We have during the last few years very good experience of cooperation with Professor Buromenskiy,” explains Bohdan Kryklyvenko, Head of the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights. According to him, Buromenskiy is suited for the position, and is respected for his work in the legal community. “What’s very important for us is that the external commission of auditors for NABU, from our point of view, also have to check human rights and fundamental freedoms, are they secure during the activities of NABU?” he concludes.

Hromadske’s Radio Journalist Andriy Kulykov spoke to Oleksandr Kalitenko, expert for political analysis at Transparency International and Bohdan Kryklyvenko, Head of the Office of The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner For Human Rights during the Sunday Show on May 28, 2017 in Kyiv.

My first question is not about politics, it's about procedure. How close to the correct procedure were the proceedings?

Oleksandr Kalitenko: There is a risk because Mr. Buromenskiy did not have the experience in the law-enforcement agencies abroad because he’s a rather theoretical person. And it's not common practice for Ukraine to make an audit for law enforcement bodies such as, for example, police, the general prosecution office and so on and so forth. So this will be the first audit in Ukraine for the law enforcement body of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), and that’s why it’s extremely important to have auditors that have such experience. Because there are no procedures in the law on how exactly this audit should be concluded. This audit will be happening for the first time, and there is no deadline for this audit. Also, international candidates such as Marta Boersch or Robert Storch or Giovanni Kessler — those people are stronger.

Do you think the Cabinet of Ministers that has appointed Mr. Buromenskiy has seriously regarded any of the internatinoal candidates or the was the agenda from the start to pretend that they are taking them into consideration and still appoint a Ukrainian?

Oleksandr Kalitenko: There is a lack of transparency in the procedure of the appointment of the auditor by the Cabinet of Ministers. We saw that there were no proper announcements on the website and internet, there were no proper announcements of the candidates for auditor.

So far we’ve been talking about one auditor and there are another two that need to be appointed. By whom? And how will they cooperate? Will they be able to work together?

Oleksandr Kalitenko: One should be appointed by the President and the other should be appointed by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). In the anti-corruption committee, headed by Mr. Yegor Sobolev, there is an open contest for these auditors. And such candidates like Marta Boersch or Carlos Castresans, are also candidates for the auditors, but they will have to be appointed by the Verkhovna Rada.

Photo credit: Andriy Kulykov and Oleksandr Kalitenko/HROMADSKE

So the international candidates have a second chance?

Oleksandr Kalitenko: Yes.

Shouldn't we take into account the fact that in many cases, the experience gained abroad is hardly applicable in Ukraine because the conditions are so different? And what is seen as a positive feature, in international experience, in many cases, and we have examples of this, just do not work in Ukraine.

Oleksandr Kalitenko: There was such a situation but in that case, for example Marta Boersch, she is familiar with Ukrainian corruption.

We in Ukraine are very much used to many different demonstrations and rallies that react to practically anything that’s being done or not being done. But in this case, I think the vigor of the protest, the vigor of the public reaction, was even higher than in some other cases. Why do you think that civil society has reacted so vigorously to this appointment?

Oleksandr Kalitenko: Because as you have mentioned, in the very beginning, the negative audit is a reason to fire Mr. Sytnyk as the head of NABU. Keeping in mind that NABU is the new anti-corruption body, which is already providing some results. Of course it’s critical for the fight against corruption, to have an independent NABU.

Photo credit: Andriy Kulykov and Oleksandr Kalitenko/HROMADSKE

Bohdan Kryklyvenko – who's currently the Head of the Office of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights– had a chance to work with future Anti-Corruption Bureau Auditor. So, Bohdan, what can you tell us about Mr. Buromenskiy? What was your experience?

Bohdan Kryklyvenko: We have during the last few years very good experience of cooperation with Professor Buromenskiy. Just a few months ago, he was a member of our commission, established by the Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, for the election of a member of a high qualification commission of judges. It was a very good and successful experience. Then two years ago, also together with Professor Buromenskiy, we realized a very good experiment. First, it was done by our office, it was a project done by external monitoring of the implementation of a new criminal procedure code, from the point of view of ensuring human rights in the implementation.

I actually remember the first time I heard Professor Buromenskiy’s name was in relation to this experiment. This was a highly publicized and seems to be highly successful case. Go on.

Bohdan Kryklyvenko: We have had good cooperation with Professor Buromenskiy on a less formal level. And I know the entire lawyer community knows him very well. What’s very important for us is that the external commission of auditors for NABU, from our point of view also have to check human rights and fundamental freedoms, are they secure during the activities of NABU?

Mr. Kalitenko has Mr. Kryklyvenko removed some of your concerns?

Oleksandr Kalitenko: Actually no because there is still no experience for the law-enforcement agencies abroad.