Monday

9th Dec 2019

Ukraine law on NGOs like 'Putin's Russia'

  • Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko said the anti-corruption bill had to be signed. (Photo: president.gov.ua)

Ukrainian NGOs have denounced amendments to the country's anti-corruption legislation, which they say was changed to intimidate activists and journalists.

The bill, signed on Tuesday (28 March) by Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko, obliges any individual and organisation engaged in anti-corruption work to fill out an electronic income declaration.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has said the law is vaguely formulated, as almost all NGOs in the country work against corruption in one way or another.

"The law risks becoming a tool for arbitrary and selective application [against civil society]," the Helsinki group said in a statement.

Oleksandra Drik, head of the board of the Civic Lustration Committee, another NGO, said the amendments "turn Ukraine into Putin's Russia by introducing essentially the same law on 'foreign agents' that destroyed all independent NGOs there".

She said the new law introduced loopholes into Ukraine's anti-corruption regime.

"Only a couple of the amendments apply to NGOs, while most of the other either restore corruption risks already cleaned out or create new ones," she said in a written statement.

NGOs and journalists have been fighting for months to ensure that lawmakers and high-ranking officials have to declare their income in an electronic register.

They have denounced efforts to derail the e-declaration system, which they said came from people close to Poroshenko.

Poroshenko said on Tuesday he had to sign the bill because it also contained provisions that were important for the country's military.

He promised to create a working group to deal with the controversial amendments, but NGOs said the bill should not have been passed in its current form in the first place.  

Ambassadors of the G7 support group, who met with Poroshenko on Tuesday, said they were worried by the changes.

The G7 club includes Germany, France, Italy, and the UK, as well as Canada, Japan, and the US.

"They were encouraged by President Poroshenko’s promise to convene a working group, including civil society, to look at recent legislative amendments,” their statement said.

“They emphasised Ukraine’s need for institutional stability as a prerequisite for further reform. They also vowed to further support Ukraine on its reform path, the ownership of which lies fully in the hands of Ukraine," it added.

EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn likewise said last week that the proposed changes were a roll-back of Ukraine's anti-corruption efforts and should be re-considered.

Ukraine visa deal hangs in the balance

A row over the introduction of a computer system for officials to declare their interests threatens to torpedo Ukraine's visa deal with the EU.

Focus

Denmark leads Ukraine anti-corruption drive

The EU has unveiled an anti-corruption scheme for Ukraine, amid concerns that its officials and lawmakers are undermining a key reform in the fight against villainy.

Interview

EU visa waiver unlikely to import Ukraine crime

Visa-free travel, which began last week, unlikely to prompt a Ukrainian crime wave, an EU police expert has said, but Ukraine itself is seeing increases in lawlessness.

Exclusive

France unveils new model EU enlargement

Western Balkan countries should become EU members via a new, step-by-step process, France has said in a detailed proposal seen by EUobserver.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

Opinion

EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us