Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko, like his three predecessors since the EuroMaidan Revolution, has so far failed to send any high-profile graft and murder cases to trial to satisfy society’s demand for justice.
Three years after the revolution began, this looks like a farce.
One reason is that the badly written law that enabled Lutsenko to become prosecutor general in May also made it almost impossible for ex-President Viktor Yanukovych and associates to be convicted. The law, which covers trials in absentia, is at odds with both Ukrainian and international law, lawyers say.
Lutsenko initially promised to send Yanukovych-era cases to trial by the end of this year regardless of legal obstacles, although later he admitted that the law had to be changed. These plans show that Lutsenko, a politician without a law degree, cares more about PR than a fair trial with due process.
And while Lutsenko claims he has gotten rid of political influence on the prosecutors’ office, the facts tell a different story. Lawmaker Yuriy Boyko has escaped punishment, while Lutsenko is keeping prosecutors linked to President Petro Poroshenko’s top ally, Oleksandr Hranovsky, and other political hacks.
Justice is also being blocked because controversial prosecutors accused of corruption and sabotaging criminal cases are still running the show. Lutsenko argues that he cannot fire them because he needs them to complete high-profile investigations, and cites various legal formalities.
This is a poor excuse, given that these prosecutors have blocked justice ever since the EuroMaidan Revolution that drove Yanukovych from power.
While failing to fire the old guard, Lutsenko has also attacked reformers and activists, including ex-deputy prosecutor generals Vitaly Kasko and Davit Sakvarelidze, top prosecutor Serhiy Horbatiuk and anti-graft crusader Vitaly Shabunin. Instead of engaging civil society, he has antagonized it.
Moreover, recent bills backed by Lutsenko seek to give him Soviet-style dictatorial authority over all law enforcement bodies, canceling post-EuroMaidan reform. Lutsenko claims he does not want to restrict the National Anti-Corruption Bureau’s independence but the wording of the bills gives him ample opportunities to do so.
The failures of the four post-revolution prosecutor generals show that the institution is a “Soviet dinosaur” and a “graveyard” for criminal investigations – terms used by Lutsenko – incapable of anything other than fabricating political cases and extorting bribes. It either has to recruit independent and competent staff or be abolished altogether.
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