District Administrative Court of Kyiv / Photo from UNIAN

The head of state, Volodymyr Zelensky, has neither right nor obligation to assess rulings handed down by judges or charges pressed forward against them, the President's Office says.

The comment, posted on the Office's Facebook page, comes amid public calls for the President to "react" to the ongoing investigation targeting judges of Kyiv's District Administrative Court suspected of running a criminal ring and seizing power.

"The Constitution of Ukraine establishes a clear division of power into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. This has already been repeatedly interpreted in Constitutional Court judgments and explained in numerous commentaries by legal experts. The body of these texts is easy to study. The president of Ukraine, according to the powers that the Constitution grants them, has neither right nor responsibility to assess judges' rulings or charges pressed against judges. Even if powers are considered within the theoretical concept of so-called inherent powers, which are not laid down in the Constitution, it still seems questionable to require the president to provide such an assessment," the comment reads.

Read alsoLenders warn Ukraine of possible issues over anti-graft prosecutor replacementIt also emphasizes that the president cannot overturn the presumption of innocence against individuals.

"The president, like any citizen in the country, can share his impressions of certain resonating reports regarding open data of criminal proceedings, no more than that," the Office stated.

At the same time, the President's Office noted that they took into account the information about possible violations of law by representatives of the judicial branch, as well as the consideration of the relevant charges by the High Council of Justice.

The Bankova expressed hope that the investigation of such a high-profile case would help establish all the true circumstances.

It was after the change of power in 2019, the Office recalls, that the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine received all the necessary legislative support for independent operations and conditions were provided for the functioning of the High Anti-Corruption Court.

"We hope that this political investment will yield an appropriate result for society and affirmation of the rule of law principle," the comment says.

Read alsoUkraine's NABU comments on Constitutional Court's decision on SytnykThe President's Office stressed priority of judicial reform and noted the fact that the current constitutional instruments for protecting the independence of judges and the separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial branches significantly limit possibilities not only of the president, but also of the Verkhovna Rada to realize desires for the dismissal of judges and radical restructuring of the judiciary that part of our society express," the comment concludes.

District Administrative Court of Kyiv: corruption investigation

  • On July 17, the National Anti-corruption Bureau raided the Kyiv District Administrative Court (KDAK) and the State Judicial Administration (SJA). Later, NABU detectives charged Court Chairman Pavlo Vovk, his deputy Yevhen Ablov, five judges, and SJA head Zenoviy Kholodnyuk with setting up a criminal organization and seizing state power. Later, NABU noted that another four persons were set to be charged.
  • According to the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO), 12 individuals, led by the KDAC chair, acted as part of a criminal organization that aimed to seize state power by establishing control over the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges and the High Council of Justice, and creating artificial obstacles in their work.
  • SAPO claims that members of the criminal organization have been handing down tailored rulings serving their own interests, as well as in the interests of political and business elites.
  • Later, Vovk and the chairman of State Judicial Administration Kholodniuk stated that they had not been served with charge papers.
  • On August 11, NABU announced that seven defendants had been put on the wanted list in the case of an alleged seizure of state power by the Kyiv District Administrative Court leadership: Pavlo Vovk, Volodymyr Keleberda, Ihor Kachura, Mykola Sirosh, Ihor Pohribnichenko, Oleksiy Ohurtsov, and Serhiy Ostapets.
  • On August 12, the Kyiv District Administrative Court's press service said the "wanted" judges were at their workplaces.
  • On September 1, the High Council of Justice, which has to green-light suspension of judges, claimed evidence had been obtained wrongfully and that charges had been pressed improperly. Thus, all judges were kept on a job, which sparked public outrage.