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Ukraine: Lustration of Government Officials Started

(Oct. 29, 2014) On October 9, 2014, the President of Ukraine signed the “Law on Cleansing of the Authorities,” widely known as the Law on Lustration. (Law No. 1682-VII (Sept. 16, 2014) [in Ukrainian], Verkhovna Rada [the Ukrainian parliament] website.) The Law establishes a lustration policy and a timetable of reviews that will be conducted to assess activities of government officials and their affiliation with the administration of the former President Viktor Yanukovych. The government has drafted a schedule for the reviews, which will be phased in between November 1, 2014, and December 2016, covering all agencies and government institutions. (Cleansing of Officials Started in Ukraine; 39 Officials Sacked [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Oct. 16, 2014).)

The Law defines lustration as a ban on individuals associated with the Yanukovych regime occupying any positions in national and local government bodies and local self-government institutions based on the Law on Lustration or a court ruling. Elected officials are exempt from lustration. (Law No. 1682-VII, art. 1.)

Individuals who worked in their positions at least one year during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych (February 25, 2010, through February 22, 2014) or who did not resign and continued to serve in their positions during the November 2013-February 2014 street protests are subject to the mandatory review and to being fired. Those dismissed will be prohibited from taking government jobs for the next ten years. (Id. art. 1.3.)

Additionally, the dismissed officials will be subject to “property lustration,” which means that they and their family members will have to prove the legality of the means they used to buy property during their government employment. This restriction will apply to leaders of all provincial and local government authorities, as well as heads of government enterprises. The ten-year employment ban will be extended to those who, during the period when Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union (before1991), occupied leading positions in Communist Party institutions, worked for the Soviet KGB, or graduated from the KGB university. (Id. arts. 3.1, 3.2, 3.4, & 5.5.)

Agents and secret informers of foreign intelligence services and individuals who made public statements encouraging the disintegration of Ukraine or the violation of its sovereignty during the course of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine will be banned from government employment for the next five years. The five-year employment restriction will also apply to judges who ruled against protesters during the November 2013-February 2014 riots in Kyiv. (Id. arts. 1.4, 3.3, & 3.5-7; see also Peter Roudik, Ukraine: Judges Will Be Subjected to Lustration, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (May 9, 2014).)

The Ministry of Justice is the designated major agency in charge of conducting lustration reviews. It will maintain a national database of lustration reviews and a registry of individuals subject to government employment restriction. (Law No. 1682-VII, art. 7.)

According to the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arsenii Yatsenyuk, 39 officials of the highest level in the Office of the Prime Minister were fired or resigned as soon as the Law on Lustration entered into force. Even though up to one million people may be subject to lustration in total, according to the Prime Minister, Ukrainian political analysts have expressed concern that the declared goals of the Law will be emasculated during the course of its implementation because of numerous loopholes. They compare the probable effect of the Law on cleansing the government institutions with the effect of shower water on cleaning a person’s arteries. (Cleansing of Officials Started in Ukraine: 39 Officials Sacked, supra; Valentin Gladkih, For What and Against Whom Was the Rada Fighting Last Tuesday [in Ukrainian], LEVIAFAN.ORG (Oct. 8, 2014).)