Ukrainian Anti-Courruptioners Declare Their Valuables
7 April, 2018

In March 2017, an amendment to the law came into force which requires all anti-corruption NGOs to declare their assets to the National Agency on Corruption Prevention. The law was originally introduced in 2014 for government officials as part of the anti-corruption reforms that followed the Euromaidan protests.

While the e-declarations for government officials were deemed a positive step forward in the fight against corruption in Ukraine, the 2017 amendment was not. At the time, activists described the law as unconstitutional and international institutions, including the European Union and the Council of Europe, called for the law to be repealed, stating that it would only hinder the important work of anti-corruption NGOs.

The deadline for submitting e-declarations was April 1, 2018, and some activists decided to comply with the law in their own unique way. They declared their property and income, as required, but also declared items they consider valuable. This included pets, books, a copy of the Ukrainian constitution, a straight-jacket and, most bizarrely, a giant foam butt.  

Photo credit: HROMADSKE

Tetyana Peklun, a board member at the Anti-corruption Action Center, explains why some of these unusual items featured in their declarations.

“What we’re declaring could seem like trolling to some people, but for us, these are things of real value. Books and other things from our campaigns that we devised, that we produced – these mean a lot more to us because they are symbols of our fight and, moreover, symbols of the success we have been able to achieve.”

Some items declared hold significant personal value to the activists, such as a 13-year-old cat and a black labrador adopted from a family fleeing occupied Luhansk.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE

Other items featured in the e-declarations had more of a symbolic significance, like the giant foam butt.  

This “piece of art” – as it was described in the asset declaration – was brought in front of the Ukrainian parliament in 2014 during a vote on anti-corruption legislation. Board member at Anti-corruption Action Center and co-owner of the oversized posterior, Daria Kaleniuk, together with her colleagues, warned all MPs that if they voted against the law, their names would be immortalized on the buttocks. And it worked.

“You don’t think this is serious? This convinced the majority in parliament to vote for the anti-corruption law. The butt can do anything. It is invaluable!” Kaleniuk told Hromadske.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE

The chairman of the Anti-corruption Action Center Vitaliy Shabunin, who declared a straight-jacket used in a protest against the former Ukrainian Prosecutor General, says he has no qualms about being treated like government officials. Shabunin sees this as an opportunity to show politicians what Ukraine’s anti-corruption NGOs are all about.  

“I just think that this whole declaration story is largely down to the fact the government actually thinks that we live like they do. So, at last, we’re showing them how anti-corruption activists really live,” Shabunin says, adding that “It is important for us to show that we are not like them, that we have different values to them.”

/By Sofia Fedeczko