What does Zelensky's plan to purge Ukraine's officials mean?
July 17, Ukraine’s ex-president Petro Poroshenko had to show up for questioning at the State Bureau of Investigation(however, he refuses to come to the questioning, some lawyers assume he might be brought forcefully to the questioning, - ed.). And two days before, on July 15, representatives of his European Solidarity Party were holding meetings under the office of the State Archives and demanding to lustrate its director, Roman Truba.
The very notion of lustration is gradually turning into a permanent informational occasion. As for Poroshenko, several criminal cases were initiated against him.
The initiator of the proceedings was Andriy Portnov, deputy head of the presidential administration since the times of Viktor Yanukovych. Poroshenko’s party calls Portnov an unofficial curator of State Investigation Bureau (SIB) and its head, Roman Truba.
Poroshenko’s party recalled that Truba did not undergo a lustration test, although at one time (at the end of 2017) all nine members of the competition commission voted for appointing Truba as director of SIB. Including those three persons, who were appointed to the commission on the quota of President Poroshenko
Back at the beginning of the presidential cadence of Viktor Yushchenko, in particular in 2005, the word "lustration" became usual. It was about copying the experience of a number of post-communist countries, where the archives of the special services were opened and former employees of the "branches" of the Soviet KGB were publicly named. People who actively collaborated with the regime and caused harm to society by such cooperation were removed from government posts.
Something similar was attempted to be introduced in Ukraine, but for a number of reasons, the draft laws written on this topic did not even reach the discussion stage in the session hall.
Time passed, and the intentions to expose the communist agents were replaced by a more urgent need. After the Revolution of dignity, the agenda was to cut off those who were somehow connected with Viktor Yanukovych. And therefore, on September 16, 2014, the Law “On the Cleansing of Power” was passed, which prohibited a certain list of persons from holding public office for 5-10 years, that is all those who were in power from February 25, 2010, to February 22, 2014, and did not quit on their own.
Current head of Presidential Office, Andriy Bogdan, who once held a position in the government of Mykola Azarov, is also subjected to the law “On the cleansing of power.” Political analyst Oleksiy Yakubin explained the creation of a new institution - the Office of the President - as an attempt to save Bogdan.
In any case, Bogdan has been working in the new post for about two months - despite public protests and objections from the Ministry of Justice. At the same time, Bogdan himself claims that he fell under lustration unfairly. He is supposedly not an accomplice of the Yanukovych’s regime, but a victim. Because he allegedly revealed the scheme for the withdrawal of billions from the state budget, for which one of the authors of the law on lustration paid for it later.
On July 11, President Zelensky shared the idea that came to his mind - to extend the boundaries of lustration and its effect on those who held positions from February 2014 to May 19, 2019. That is, in other words, before the beginning of Zelensky’s cadence.
On the same day, Ruslan Stefanchuk, presidential representative in the Verkhovna Rada, explained that if the presidential bill is adopted, its action will deprive not only the “heads” but also the current members of the Ze!Team, in particular, Vadym Prystayko, Oleksandr Danilyuk, and Aivaras Abromavicius.
July 12, the presidential version of the law on lustration was registered in the Verkhovna Rada. In it, in contrast to the current law "On the cleansing of power", elective posts are also mentioned - such as those that are also subject to lustration. In particular, the posts of the president, MPs, the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, his deputies, candidates for MPs, deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, all local councils, candidates for the presidency and the posts of the village, town heads.
First of all, the ambassadors of the G7 did not like the idea of broad lustration. They noted that "electoral changes and political rotation are the norms in democratic countries, in contrast to the non-selective ban on all participants in the executive and legislative process of governance."
Diplomats reminded Zelensky: this is not the day after Yanukovich’s escape. “Since 2014, we have had the opportunity to welcome progress in reforming a number of important areas. Ex-president Petro Poroshenko was most indignant about this - he saw in Zelensky’s actions both the desire to settle scores and some pro-Russian motive.
But no matter who inspired Zelensky to launch this initiative, it is not viable, and therefore cannot be realized. Well-known investment banker Serhiy Fursa explained the situation.
"If you want to annul lustration, make a profanity of it. Reduce to an absurdity. Accompany it with terry populism. Zelensky wants to extend lustration to elective positions, which cannot be done by law. And thus he might annul the very idea of lustration," he writes on your Facebook. Expert Vadym Karasiov believes that the officials will hold on to power with all the methods available to them, which would definitely harm Ukrainian society.
A negative consequence of tightening the screws can be that the officials might go on deliberately disrupting the upcoming elections. In general, Karasiov also notes the inconsistency of the current situation. "Everything needs to be reduced to absurdity. And therefore, the lustration, which was held in 2014, is illegal. Because the new power comes and cleans out its predecessors. But we must understand that they would be predecessors too, it’s just a matter of time," he says. At the same time, political scientist Viktor Nebozhenko speaks about counter-revolution in general." Former participants of the revolution led the counter-revolution. We retreat to the 2003 level. A detailed commentary on everything related to the “wide lustration” was given by political scientist Ruslan Bortnyk. “In this statement, Zelensky has several components,” Bortnik notes. “Firstly, this is a pre-election attempt to raise a topical issue and at the expense of it to add votes to itself in these elections. Secondly, this is a discrediting campaign against competitors – Poroshenko’s team, who are fighting with the Servant of the People party - an attempt to call them criminals, even without passing the law.
The third and perhaps most important motive is as follows. Zelensky made this statement also in order to respond to possible accusations of “revenge.” After all, it is likely that in the coming days or weeks the Constitutional Court will make a decision recognizing the lustration law as unconstitutional, and the opponents will launch a campaign to discredit Zelensky," Bortnyk notes.
The best defense, therefore, is an attack. Zelensky illustrated this old truth with new initiatives.