Saturday

27th May 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Turkey's accelerated drift from Europe

Turkey's path towards EU membership seems harder than ever in the past 54 years, after Erdogan, this week, threatened to "wave" goodbye to the bloc.

EU urges Turkey to investigate election fraud

The EU called for a transparent investigation into alleged irregularities during the referendum in Turkey, which gave sweeping powers to president Erdogan. It added that reinstating the death penalty would end the country's EU bid.

EU urges Turkey to investigate election fraud

The EU called for a transparent investigation into alleged irregularities during the referendum in Turkey, which gave sweeping powers to president Erdogan. It added that reinstating the death penalty would end the country's EU bid.

News in Brief

  1. Malloch will not be US ambassador to the EU
  2. 'Significant' drop in EU migration to UK
  3. Bomb injures former Greek PM
  4. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  5. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  6. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  7. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  8. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms