Ukraine Anti-Graft Head Talks Latest Blows to Reform, Their Repercussions
30 October, 2020
Head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine Artem Sytnyk Oleksiy Nikulin / hromadske

The head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine Artem Sytnyk has been all over the news this week. On October 27, the Kyiv District Administrative Court - whose illegal actions are currently being investigated by the NABU - ordered Sytnyk to be dismissed within a month. The decision was made on the basis of a ruling of the Constitutional Court, which in August declared the decree appointing Sytnyk unconstitutional, although did not deprive him of his powers. On top of that, on October 27, the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional criminal liability for illicit enrichment, the cases of which are also being investigated by the agency headed by Sytnyk. The decision also affected a number of powers of the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption. On the latest episode of “Mokryk Live”, we asked Sytnyk how the latest decisions of the KDAC and the Constitutional Court affect the work of NABU. Here is a run-down of the main talking points.


NABU is currently investigating more than 100 cases of false declarations, and about 20 are already being considered in courts. Due to the decision of the Constitutional Court, we will be forced to close them all. There has been a precedent when the Constitutional Court abolished liability for illicit enrichment. This is a very threatening trend and another blow to anti-corruption reform. The idea of ​​the Constitutional Court is that its decisions are final and cannot be appealed. Court decisions should not be questioned, and we see that they are - rightly - questioned.

The latest decision of the Constitutional Court, I think, stems from the fact that we are approaching the point of no return in anti-corruption reform. There are more and more sentences [pronounced by the High Anti-Corruption Court], this is already a trend - and this trend has frightened the elite, which is also present in the courts. Another reason for the attack on anti-corruption bodies is the attempts of pro-Russian forces to damage Ukraine's relations with Western partners.

Photo: Oleksiy Nikulin / hromadske

The KDAC’s decision to dismiss me is absolutely absurd. NABU will file an appeal. The next decision of the courts may be, for example, the abolition of the Act of Independence of Ukraine, the Declaration of State Sovereignty. To be honest, [KDAC judges] have sort of lost a sense of reality. There is a conflict of interest in the decision of the KDAC on my dismissal and in the decision of the Constitutional Court to abolish a number of anti-corruption norms. In the first case, the administrative court attacked NABU, which investigates criminal cases against judges of the KDAC, and in the second case, judges of the Constitutional Court repealed the rules under which a number of members of the Constitutional Court could be prosecuted.

The investigation into the KDAC tapes has been extended for six months. Investigators and detectives are working. They are under pressure because the defendants have nothing to lose. They have been in office since 2009 and openly say that they felt good under any government. Nobody wanted to get involved in the activities of the KDAC before, everyone felt at home [with them]. As for the KDAC, the correct and simpler solution would be not to liquidate it, but to turn it into a trial court (of first instance).

Photo: Oleksiy Nikulin / hromadske

We have a divergence of views with the Prosecutor General’s Office. After the resignation of the head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, we started working even closer. Regarding the case of Oleksandr Yurchenko, a Servant of the People deputy - we provided the Prosecutor General's Office with materials in the case, after which the head of the Office, Irina Venediktova, publicly said that they were inadequate, then we published these materials, and that is when the notice of suspicion was signed. We were not told about the unsatisfactory work at the joint meeting of the PGO, NABU and SAPO [on October 26] - [the assessment] appeared in the press release.

It’s not like we miss Nazar Kholodnytskyi (former SAPO head - ed.) - we want a transparent competition and election of a new head of the SAPO. I have spoken with Kholodnytskyi several times after his dismissal. The man is worried about what is happening within NABU and SAPO. There is a threat that due to the problems with the formation of a competition commission to select the head of the SAPO, its results will be declared invalid. But this commission includes international experts, and this is a guarantee that [the competition] will take place, and the new head of the SAPO will not be illegitimate or dependent.