Thursday

5th Aug 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe 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.

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.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

News in Brief

  1. EU secures deal with Novavax for potential Covid-19 vaccine
  2. France fined €10m for failing to tackle air pollution
  3. Fire near Athens forces thousands to evacuate
  4. EU to Lebanon: 'deliver results' on Beirut blast probe
  5. Belarus opposition leader demands regime end
  6. Croatia's border-monitoring of migrant rights 'falls short'
  7. Court stops Austria's Afghan deportation, as conflict worsens
  8. 'Missing' Belarus exiles group chief found dead in Kyiv

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Italy seeks EU help on migrant boat arrivals
  2. WHO calls for vaccine-booster pause to help poor countries
  3. Romania selling on its jabs, despite low vaccination rates
  4. Cyprus' Varosha is Erdogan's canary in the coalmine
  5. Europe sees drop in Covid-19 cases
  6. Burkinis and 'soul caps' - policing Olympic women back in fashion
  7. Telegram groups lure migrant hopefuls to Lithuania
  8. Third-time lucky for one Syrian grandmother in Denmark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us