Photo from UNIAN, Andriy Marienko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he fully supports the transparent process of selecting the chief of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO).

Speaking with the journalists during a working trip to Ivano-Frankivsk region, the president was asked to comment on reports claiming Ukraine may lose visa-free travel privileges in the European Union after the Verkhovna Rada made the move to appoint commission members to select the new anti-corruption prosecutor, his Office reported on Facebook

"I don't comment on the statements of Ukrainian politicians in cases where they have no powers. That is, they can neither grant us visa-free travel, nor take away visa-free travel – this concerns Ukrainian politicians. I know who spins this information, I'm aware of this political party, whose leader is someone who still believes he is 'a Ukrainian monarch', 'master of Ukraine', although this man had five years to restore Ukraine and show what he can do for his people. I don't pay attention to all this information," Zelensky said.

According to the president, Ukrainian authorities have "normal communication" with Western partners.

Read alsoG7 ambassadors: Anti-corruption agencies' integrity must be protected in UkraineZelensky says he "carefully read" what the Western partners had said about the relevant parliament decision.

"They said they want to see that the commission works very thorougly, so that the commission works transparently and chooses a professional future SAPO chief. I fully share their views, fully support them, I believe it can't be any other way," Zelensky said.

Replacing top anti-corruption prosecutor: recent developments

On August 21, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova signed an order to dismiss Deputy Prosecutor General and SAPO chief Nazar Kholodnytsky, approving his resignation.

On September 17, the Verkhovna Rada appointed parliamentary members to the commission to select the new SAPO chief: Olena Busol, Andriy Hudzhal, Oleksiy Drozd, Kateryna Koval, Bohdan Romaniuk, Viacheslav Navrotsky, and Yevhen Sobol.

The European Parliament's Rapporteur for Ukraine, Michael Gahler, and Vice-Chair of Delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee Viola von Cramon expressed concern over the Verkhovna Rada's move.

"While international community is occupied with Belarus, Ukraine government is hastily pushing candidates lacking experience and integrity to select SAPO head. This will not fly. Ukraine's Government is jeopardizing visa-free with the EU and further trance of EUR1.5 billion assistance," Viola von Cramon-Taubadel wrote on Twitter on September 17, 2020.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv also commented on the developments. "The U.S. and the EU take note of the Rada decision to appoint members to the commission to choose the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. The commission needs to embark on a transparent process with candidates' integrity and merits at its core. Our further support will depend upon it," the Embassy wrote on Facebook on September 17.