Photo from UNIAN

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has passed a draft resolution on the appointment of commission members to select a new head of the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO).

A total of 239 MPs have backed Resolution No. 4104, an UNIAN correspondent reports.

Rada is allowed to appoint seven commission members, besides four members appointed by the Prosecutors' Council.

Today, the Verkhovna Rada appointed:

  • Olena Busol, Senior Researcher, Head of the Department of Special Legal Disciplines of the Educational and Scientific Humanitarian Institute of Vernadsky Tavria National University, Doctor of Law;
  • Andriy Hudzhal, Managing Partner at GuDeG Lawyers Association;
  • Oleksiy Drozd, Head of the Department of Doctoral Studies and Adjuncture of the National Academy of Internal Affairs, Doctor of Law, Associate Professor;
  • Kateryna Koval, first deputy chair of the Union of Lawyers of Ukraine;
  • Bohdan Romaniuk, Professor at the Department of Transport Law and Logistics of National Transport University, Candidate of Legal Sciences, Associate Professor;
  • Viacheslav Navrotsky, Professor at the Department of Theory of Law and Human Rights, Ukrainian Catholic University, Professor at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, Lviv State University of Internal Affairs, Corresponding Member of the National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine, Doctor of Law, Professor; and
  • Yevhen Sobol, Head of the Department of State and Legal Disciplines and Administrative Law of the Vinnychenko Central Ukrainian State Pedagogical University, Doctor of Law, Professor.

At the same time, MEP, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee Viola von Cramon wrote on Twitter on September 17, 2020, that Ukraine may lose visa-free travel and financial assistance from the European Union over the situation around the appointment of a new SAPO head.

Kholodnytsky's resignation, row with Wetern partners over successor's selection

On August 21, SAPO Head Nazar Kholodnytsky filed for resignation.

His resignation letter was signed by Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

SAPO Deputy Head Maksym Hryshchuk was appointed the agency's acting head.

The European Union, key European powers, and the World Bank have written a letter to the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, as well as the President's Office, over the draft resolution the parliament intended to pass on September 3 (the resolution did not pass the Rada on that day).

The appeal intended to warn of the possible implications of the decision to change the composition of the commission formed to select the new chief of the Special Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office.

The selection commission should be formed from among highly reputable candidates with significant experience in the field of combating corruption, the letter said, adding that public confidence in the selection process will largely depend on the composition of the selection committee.

The ambassadors of the G7 countries (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan) in a statement posted September 16 stressed the need to protect the integrity of the National Anti-corruption Bureau (NABU) of Ukraine, the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO), and the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC).

What is SAPO

  • The Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office is an independent structural unit of the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, created in 2015, and is primarily responsible for supporting and overseeing criminal investigations launched by the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), that's per Wikipedia.
  • The prospect of visa liberalization (visa-free travel to the Schengen Area) between Ukraine and the European Union was closely linked with the process of creating the SAPO.
  • In the latest memorandum with the International Monetary Fund signed over the approval of the Stand-by Arrangement, Ukraine committed to advancing good governance efforts and combatting high-level corruption. "We will ensure that the country's new anticorruption institutions – the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, and the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) – maintain their independence and integrity (including by providing them with adequate resources), to be able to effectively and credibly investigate, prosecute and adjudicate high-level corruption cases.