|DEMOCRACY-PERCENTAGE Democracy Percentage||39.29 100|
|DEMOCRACY-SCORE Democracy Score||3.36 7|
- Judicial Framework and Independence rating declined from 2.50 to 2.25 due to court rulings that suspended laws necessary for reforms, discredited progressive public officials, and overturned corruption verdicts; additionally, a constitutional crisis was caused by the judges of the Constitutional Court, who abolished asset declarations of public officials while acting with conflicts of interest.
As a result, Ukraine’s Democracy Score declined from 3.39 to 3.36.
By Oksana Huss and Oleksandra Keudel
In 2020, Ukraine witnessed active resistance to major reforms, which essentially erased the democratic achievements of the previous year. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy initiated changes at the beginning of the year among key political staff, from the government to the Prosecutor General and the President’s Office. Most of these promising reformers were replaced by controversial personalities associated with different informal interest groups. Significant achievements of Ukraine’s special anticorruption institutions were torn down by a judiciary that worked to undermine the basic government principle of checks and balances. In particular, the Constitutional Court attacked cornerstones of anticorruption work by ruling that asset declarations, political appointments, and anticorruption institutions themselves are unconstitutional, which plunged the country into a constitutional crisis on top of the serious social and economic challenges posed by COVID-19.
The pandemic increased Ukraine’s dependence on IMF loans and foreign financial assistance to overcome the crisis. The conditionality of foreign donors intensified the demand for reforms, some of which explicitly contradicted the interests of influential groups. Ukraine’s leadership entered the year with sufficient support, both among the public and the political establishment, to achieve significant reforms. But the capacity for these goals disappeared as tensions increased between influential groups, and as popular support for the government declined.
The fragmentation of President Zelenskyy’s influence was noticeable at both the national and local levels of governance. While in 2019, Sluha Narodu (“Servant of the People”)—the pro-presidential faction in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament—had adopted legislation in a fast and unified manner (aka “turbo mode”), in 2020, consensus in the decision-making process was increasingly based on ad hoc coalitions. Procedural mistakes during the Rada’s “turbo” period made it easy to revoke the legislative basis for reforms, while hampering the consensus-building needed for new legislation. At the local governance level, elections in October cemented the power of regional elites, where mayor-led parties and political projects of oligarchs gained substantial representation in many regional councils. The central authorities had difficulty enforcing their decisions, as demonstrated when mayors challenged or sabotaged quarantine restrictions in court, sometimes forcing the government to give concessions. The informal power of large financial-industrial groups (FIGs) became evident when the president implored these enterprises to lead the pandemic relief efforts in their respective regional bases.1
The local elections on October 25 put additional pressure on authorities to advance decentralization and finally reach consensus on the new administrative division of the country. Despite some local opposition, administrative-territorial reform has been pushed to avoid overlapping jurisdictions in about 100 traditional districts and new territorial communities (municipalities) after the municipal elections. Communities maintained fiscal autonomy from the district and regional budgets. Rules of succession between old and new administrative units have been set. These actions helped to avoid a collapse in public service provision after the municipal elections but failed to clarify the confusion between state competences and those of local governments, especially at the district level.
The negotiations over constitutional amendments and legislation set to clarify competences of state administrations and elected councils revealed areas of increasing leverage by local elites due to the advancing decentralization reform. After backlash to the president’s amendments in 2019, which failed to incorporate local government input, the central authorities launched an unprecedented, inclusive consultation process in January; this effort comprised thematic working groups, rounds of regional negotiations, and consensus-based decisions, and it continued online during the pandemic.2 Similarly, open consultations were ongoing during the year over new competences for local self-government and state administrations.
In addition to pushing the decentralization reform, the October local elections were important for Ukraine’s democratic governance since they tested the new Electoral Code, which improved the electoral process through open party lists, inclusive gender quotas for candidate lists, and revised sanctions for electoral offenses. The option to change one’s electoral address now enables internally displaced persons (IDPs) de facto to vote. Still, limits on fair elections remained: political parties increased their leverage in local governance through a new power to recall their deputies from local councils (“imperative mandate”), while a new requirement that candidates must accumulate a certain quota of votes in order to move up party lists would limit the open-list principle. Although the overall assessment of the October election process was positive, misuse of administrative resources, vote buying, and unregulated political advertising posed challenges for the conduct of free and fair elections.
Apart from challenges within the country, Ukraine’s democratic consolidation is also complicated by the insecurity that Russia poses through its military aggression in Donbas and continued occupation of Crimea.3 For example, Ukraine aspires to shield itself from Russian disinformation, yet the relevant draft law “On disinformation” infringed on media freedom and was abandoned. Similarly, the Zelenskyy administration faces polarized public opinion on a possible solution to the armed conflict. While the growing veteran community, their families, and citizens with patriotic sentiment increasingly protest the president’s conflict resolution strategy, there is a sizeable proportion of those who would now accept some form of a peace deal that ends the war.4
The Ukrainian civic sector proved anew to be a strong pillar under challenging circumstances. Civil society organizations (CSOs) and volunteers have been critical to cushioning the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. They initiated public-private partnerships and large-scale informal mobilizations to support at-risk groups and medical workers. Civil society demonstrated resilience in coping with the ramifications of Russian aggression by protecting the rights of IDPs and veterans, and facilitating community dialogue.5 The state does not create legal obstacles for CSOs, and there were slight improvements in the rules for public funding and taxation. At the same time, there are instances of persecution of civic activists, including physical attacks, intimidation, and damage to property. In fact, journalists experienced physical attacks at the same rate as in the previous year,6 yet investigations of such cases were ineffective or nonexistent. With the change of government, the tone in interaction between CSOs and the authorities is gradually shifting from dialogue to dissent.
Media in Ukraine remained pluralistic and free from state pressure in 2020. Media outlets are, however, significantly influenced by the financial support and political agendas of their owners. The television market is highly concentrated and influenced by six media holdings, which draw 71 percent of the country’s viewing audience. Yet television is losing its popularity in favor of social media and news websites. Several sites, such as VoxUkraine and texty.org.ua, offer quality data journalism, while the online media Ukrainska Pravda, Hromadske.ua, and several others do independent reporting. At the same time, numerous online media and press, especially at the local level, do not provide their audiences with diverse opinions and independent editorial content.7 With internet usage reaching 90 percent of citizens in the country, disinformation is widespread and far fewer citizens are capable of detecting it. Disappointed, they may end up refraining from consuming news at all.8
There are positive tendencies in Ukraine’s fight against grand corruption, but also increasing resistance from the judicial branch. The National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) has been reformed, and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) continued investigations of high-level corruption9 while improving coordination with the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO). Compared to previous years, when investigations were mostly obstructed in the courts of general jurisdiction, the specialized High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) demonstrated a real prosecution of corruption in 2020 by delivering its first convictions resulting in sentences.
Investigations and convictions of corruption increasingly involve judges, as well as managers of state-owned enterprises and politicians. Among ongoing top investigations, NABU pressed charges against several judges of the Kyiv District Administrative Court (KDAC), the court of first instance in reviewing appeals against decisions by public authorities. NACP detected illegal assets in the declarations of judges of the Constitutional Court. These accountability efforts backfired on the entire anticorruption infrastructure and led to a constitutional crisis when the Constitutional Court proclaimed the appointment of Artem Sytnyk as head of the independent NABU unconstitutional, challenged the constitutionality of HACC itself, and, in October, abolished asset declarations by public officials.
Looking forward, the Constitutional Court’s discrediting of reform-driven laws and appointments by ruling them unconstitutional poses a serious threat in several ways. The judiciary has revealed itself to be an unpredictable player that can act beyond the particularistic economic interests of judges. It also risks undermining the conditionality of macro-financial assistance by the IMF and the European Union’s visa-free regime, which Ukraine relies upon to avoid a deep political and economic crisis, especially during the global pandemic. The current constitutional crisis provides an opportunity to finally reform the judiciary at its base, a prospect that has popular support. However, the increasing fragmentation of the Sluha Narodu party and decreasing popularity of President Zelenskyy restrict the ability of political leadership to introduce substantial changes.
- 1Lutsevych, Orysia. 2020. “Fighting COVID-19 the Ukrainian Way.” Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank. April 28, 2020. https://www.chathamhouse.org/2020/04/fighting-covid-19-ukrainian-way.
- 2Decentralization Initiative Press Center. ‘Розробка Змін До Конституції в Частині Децентралізації: Результати Заходів в Регіонах [Development of Amendments to the Constitution in Terms of Decentralization: The Results of Measures in the Regions]’, Otober 2020. https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/12839.
- 3Mathieu Boulègue, and Orysia Lutsevych. ‘Resilient Ukraine. Safeguarding Society from Russian Aggression’. Chatham House, June 2020. https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/2020-06-09-resilient-u….
- 4Mathieu Boulègue, and Orysia Lutsevych. ‘Resilient Ukraine. Safeguarding Society from Russian Aggression’. Chatham House, June 2020. https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/2020-06-09-resilient-u…. 14-15
- 5Mathieu Boulègue, and Orysia Lutsevych. ‘Resilient Ukraine. Safeguarding Society from Russian Aggression’. Chatham House, June 2020. https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/2020-06-09-resilient-u….
- 6‘229 випадків порушень свободи слова ІМІ зафіксував в Україні у 2020 році [IMI Registered 229 Cases of Violations of Freedom of Speech in 2020]’, Institute for Mass Information, 28 December 2020. https://imi.org.ua/articles/229-vypadkiv-porushen-svobody-slova-imi-zaf….
- 7Natalia Steblina, “Редакційна залежність та інтернет-слабкість реформованих українських ЗМІ. Частина 1 [Editorial dependence and Internet weakness of the reformed Ukrainian media. Part 1],” March 5, 2020, https://imi.org.ua/monitorings/redaktsijna-zalezhnist-ta-internet-slabk….
- 8USAID Internews 2020 media Consumption Survey, August 2020, https://internews.org/sites/default/files/2020-10/2020-Media-Consumptio…
- 9“NABU Report. January-June 2020” (Kyiv: NABU, 2020), https://nabu.gov.ua/en/report/report-first-half-2020.
|Considers the democratic character of the governmental system; and the independence, effectiveness, and accountability of the legislative and executive branches.||2.503 7.007|
- Ukraine’s national government institutions, which saw a broad reshuffle by the president in 2020, made little democratic progress and were further shook by the COVID-19 pandemic.1
- In March, President Zelenskyy reorganized key political staff. He replaced the head of the President’s Office, Prosecutor General, and rearranged the entire executive branch, which led to backsliding on reforms2 in finance and customs services,3 healthcare,4 and education.5 The impetus for these changes was a leaked discussion in which former prime minister Oleksiy Honcharuk was heard to undermine the president’s overall competence in economic matters.6 The change of government took place in parallel with an extensive information attack on Ukraine’s pro-Western reforms, orchestrated by media owned by oligarchs Viktor Medvedchuk and Ihor Kolomoisky.7
- The president’s new appointments were controversial and point to an informal coalition of several groups of influence in his Sluha Narodu, “Servant of the People” party.8 Although the new prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, is considered a good manager, some observers are cautious that his appointment may facilitate the involvement and interests of the oligarch Rinat Akhmetov. Several new ministers are associated with the interests of Kolomoisky.9 Arsen Avakov, the influential interior minister, remained in his position despite public protests demanding his resignation.10
- The most criticized personnel change was the dismissal of Prosecutor General (PG) Ruslan Riaboshapka. Systemic reforms had taken place in the PG Office under his leadership wherein all prosecutors were subject to a review, with fewer than half passing.11 Yet the president stated that he had dismissed Riaboshapka for insufficient action on fighting corruption in the PG Office. Iryna Venediktova replaced him, a move that watchdog organizations predicted would usher in a wave of “odious appointments” as former lustrated prosecutors (fired for corrupt behavior) repopulated their old offices under her patronage.12
- To manage the country’s healthcare shortcomings and economic downturn caused by the pandemic,13 Ukraine has relied on the IMF Stand-By Arrangement ($5 billion) and macro-financial assistance (€1.2 billion) from the European Union (EU).14 The conditions placed on these loans are land reform, restrictions on reprivatization of nationalized banks, and guarantees for a politically independent National Bank of Ukraine (NBU). The first two IMF conditions were formally met in 2020. The law on land reform, which created a land market that allows for selling agricultural property to Ukrainian citizens, was adopted in March.15 And the so-called anti-Kolomoisky law, adopted in May, prohibits reprivatization of nationalized banks and aims to solve legal disputes around the nationalized PrivatBank.16
- In early 2020, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, under pressure from the president, hastily adopted a series of laws in the much-ballyhooed “turbo mode” legislative process.17 On the one hand, this practice pushed through a number of important reforms. On the other, the legislature’s procedural rules were often violated, opening the door for rolling back the reforms through corrupt courts. During the COVID-19 crisis and government reshuffling, the presumed one-party-majority of Sluha Narodu in the Rada succumbed to fragmentation.18 By year’s end, legislative decision-making was solidly characterized by ad hoc coalitions, including among Sluha Narodu members of parliament (MPs).
- On January 16, the law abolishing MP immunity entered into force.19 This statute enables law enforcement agencies to take action against MPs accused of criminal offenses. The widespread problem of proxy voting became subject to criminal liability. While the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe (CoE) welcomes this initiative,20 some legal experts in Ukraine are critical of these measures, as the law’s vague wording increases the vulnerability of People’s Deputies (MPs) to the whims of the parliamentary majority.21 In February, the PG Office opened its first case investigating proxy voting.22
- Against the backdrop of the central government’s insufficient response to COVID-19, regional elites increased their leverage. In March, the president exhorted the owners of large financial-industrial groups (FIGs), including oligarchs Rinat Akhmetov, Viktor Pinchuk, Ihor Kolomoisky, and Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, to fund the first regional relief measures according to the respective locations of their enterprises.23 Businesspersons even chaired the Anti-Crisis Headquarters in nine regions.24 The media interpreted these moves as confirmation of the weakness of Zelenskyy’s authority and the informal influence of FIG owners over “their” regions—and, by extension, the president.25
- 1Gabriela Miranda, Geoff Upton, and Ksenia Lytvynenko, “The COVID-19 Crisis in Ukraine” (Ukraine: OECD, November 3, 2020), https://www.oecd.org/eurasia/competitiveness-programme/eastern-partners….
- 2Eduard Klein, “Wie sich das Reformfenster in der Ukraine langsam schließt [How the reform window in Ukraine is slowly closing],” Ukraine-Analysen, no. 232 (March 26, 2020): 15, https://www.laender-analysen.de/ukraine-analysen/232/wie-sich-das-refor…
- 3Teize, Yevhen. “Після звільнення Нефьодова і Верланова: ‘Бізнес боїться ручного управління’ [After dismissal of Nefiodov and Verlanov: Business is afraid of the ‘manual regime’].” Deutsche Welle, April 30, 2020. https://bit.ly/2VRrkDR.
- 4Sokyrchuk, Natalia. “Реформа Супрун, стоп! Реванш медичної мафії чи порятунок охорони здоров’я [Stop to the Suprun’s reform! Revenge of the medicine mafia or saving health care].” Glavkom.ua, May 5, 2020. https://glavcom.ua/country/health/reforma-suprun-stop-revansh-medichnoj….
- 5Bondar, Mariya. “МОН зареєструвало наказ, який руйнує реформу відомства та порушує домовленості з ЄС [Ministry of Education and Science registered a decree that undermines reforms].” 24 Канал, November 19, 2020. https://education.24tv.ua/mon-zareyestruvalo-nakaz-yakiy-ruynuye-reform….
- 6Volodymyr Yermolenko, “Ukrainian Prime Minister Tried (Unsuccessfully) to Resign. What Does This Mean?,” Ukraine World, January 17, 2020, https://ukraineworld.org/articles/opinions/ukrainian-prime-minister-may….
- 7Volodymyr Yermolenko, “Ukraine’s Government Fell: Why, and What Does It Mean?,” Ukraine World, March 4, 2020, https://ukraineworld.org/articles/opinions/ukraines-government-fell-why….
- 8Sarah Whitmore, “Wilde Zeiten [Wild times],” Ukraine-Analysen, no. 232 (March 26, 2020): 17–18.
- 9Eduard Klein, “Wie sich das Reformfenster in der Ukraine langsam schließt [How the reform window in Ukraine is slowly closing],” Ukraine-Analysen, no. 232 (March 26, 2020): 15, https://www.laender-analysen.de/ukraine-analysen/232/wie-sich-das-refor… .
- 10Makarenko, Olena. “Minister Avakov Keeps Dodging Political Responsibility for Heinous Police Crimes.” Euromaidan Press, June 5, 2020. http://euromaidanpress.com/2020/06/05/minister-avakov-keeps-dodging-pol….
- 11Oleg Sukhov, “Riaboshapka’s Housecleaning: Will It Bring Justice for Ukraine? ” KyivPost, January 17, 2020, https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/riaboshapkas-housecleaning-wi….
- 12“‘Where Are the Results?’ Or TOP 5 Failures of Venediktova as a Prosecutor General,” Anticorruption Action Centre (blog), October 14, 2020, https://antac.org.ua/en/news/where-are-the-results-or-top-5-failures-of….
- 13Gabriela Miranda, Geoff Upton, and Ksenia Lytvynenko, “The COVID-19 Crisis in Ukraine” (Ukraine: OECD, November 3, 2020), https://www.oecd.org/eurasia/competitiveness-programme/eastern-partners….
- 15Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, “Про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України щодо умов обігу земель сільськогосподарського призначення [About modification of some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning conditions of circulation of the lands of agricultural purpose],” Pub. L. No. 552– IX (2020), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/552-20.
- 16Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, “Про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України щодо удосконалення механізмів регулювання банківської діяльності [On amendments to some legislative acts of Ukraine to improve the mechanisms for regulating banking activities],” Pub. L. No. 590– IX (2020), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/590-20.
- 17European Parliament. Directorate General for Internal Policies of the Union., Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine: European Implementation Assessment (Update). (LU: Publications Office, 2020), 45, https://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2861/308374.
- 18Gwendolyn Sasse, “Selenskyj hat es verpasst, seine Partei zu konsolidieren und die Regierung zu stärken [Zelenskyi failed to consolidate his party and strengthen the government],” Ukraine-Analysen, no. 234 (May 15, 2020): 4–5.
- 19Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, “Про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України щодо забезпечення особистого голосування народними депутатами України на пленарних засіданнях Верховної Ради України [On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Ensuring Personal Voting by People’s Deputies of Ukraine at Plenary Sessions of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine],” Pub. L. No. 404– IX (2019), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/404-20.
- 20“Fourth Evaluation Round: Corruption Prevention in Respect of Members of Parliament, Judges and Prosecutors. Compliance Report Ukraine,” Compliance Report (Strasburg: GRECO, Council of Europe, March 26, 2020), 30, https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-res….
- 21Oleksandr Marusiak, “Депутатський мандат: забрати не можна залишити [Deputy mandate: to take impossible to leave],” Reanimation Package of Reforms, May 28, 2020, https://rpr.org.ua/news/deputats-kyy-mandat-zabraty-ne-mozhna-zalyshyty/.
- 22“Офіс Генерального прокурора розпочав кримінальне провадження за неособисте голосування народного депутата [The Office of the Prosecutor General has initiated criminal proceedings for the impersonal vote of the People’s Deputy],” Office of the prosecutor general, February 21, 2020, https://www.gp.gov.ua/ua/news?_m=publications&_c=view&_t=rec&id=267766&….
- 23Lutsevych, Orysia. 2020. “Fighting COVID-19 the Ukrainian Way.” Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank. April 28, 2020. https://www.chathamhouse.org/2020/04/fighting-covid-19-ukrainian-way.
- 24Nataliya Prystanska. ‘Коронавірус в Україні: бізнес та місцева влада створюють обласні антикризові штаби [Coronavirus in Ukraine: business and local authorities are creating regional anti-crisis headquarters]’. Channel 24, 18 March 2020. https://news.24tv.ua/koronavirus_v_ukrayini_biznes_ta_mistseva_vlada_st….
- 25Iryna Bila. ‘Зустріч Зеленського з олігархами продемонструвала слабкість його влади (огляд преси) [Zelensky’s meeting with the oligarchs demonstrated the weakness of his power (press review)]’. Radio Svoboda, 26 March 2020. https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/30509595.html.
|Examines national executive and legislative elections, the electoral framework, the functioning of multiparty systems, and popular participation in the political process.||4.505 7.007|
- The local elections, held on October 25, were important to Ukraine’s democratic governance for two reasons. First, they tested the implementation of the substantially revised Electoral Code. Second, the local elections took place in the new administrative-territorial units created during the decentralization reform.
- The extensive electoral reform that entered into force in January 20201 brought several improvements to the electoral process, such as vote quotas that allow candidates to improve their position on “open party lists,” an inclusive gender quota for candidate lists, and revised sanctions for electoral offenses.2 Importantly, it became possible for Ukrainian citizens to change their electoral address, which de facto enabled Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to vote. There are however shortcomings in the election reform, such as insufficient mechanisms for resolving disputes and a lack of campaign finance oversight. Furthermore, media regulations are missing from the reform, and the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations on the appointment and replacement of election commission members is still unfulfilled.3
- Undemocratic restrictions to electoral procedures were introduced in last-minute amendments to the Electoral Code in July.4 The code provides for two types of electoral systems in Ukraine: a majority system for small municipalities; and a proportional system with open party lists for regional and district councils, and municipalities with more than 10,000 voters (down from 90,000). This setup restricts the right of independent candidates to run for elections.5 The open lists are useful only to candidates who achieve 25 percent of the electoral quota, while the remaining candidates depend on their list position set by the political party.6 Finally, the amendments introduced an “imperative mandate” that increases political party influence on local councils and enables the recall of elected deputies by signature collection based on a vague rationale.7
- Implementation of the new electoral system delivered contradictory results. On the one hand, it empowered about half of the candidates across Ukraine to move up the party lists.8 The gender quota allowed more women to enter local councils, even though they are still a minority.9 On the other hand, some deputies entered councils with minimal voter support, while broadly supported candidates may have lost their elections due to membership in an unpopular party.10
- The local elections took place under the challenging circumstances of COVID-19 and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Turnout was 37 percent,11 which is 10 percentage points lower than in 2015. Almost 500,000 residents of 18 districts situated along the contact line under Ukrainian control in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions did not vote. The civil-military administration warned that it could not ensure the safety of residents during elections in these districts, issuing an official announcement that was heavily criticized by the civic sector for its nontransparent assessment criteria.12
- The assessment of the electoral process was predominantly positive, with some exceptions. Candidates were free to campaign, although misuse of administrative resources by incumbents was widespread.13 Private media were mostly biased and provided unbalanced coverage.14 On election day, the OSCE/ODIHR’s limited observation mission reported a “calm, well-organized and transparent” process in which procedures were “mostly followed.”15 The observers highlighted the professional and efficient administration of the elections by the Central Election Commission, while territorial commissions were often politicized. During the elections, allegations of direct and indirect vote buying were widespread, although the new Electoral Code provides criminal liability for such offenses.
- 1Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, “Виборчий кодекс України [Electoral Code of Ukraine],” Pub. L. No. 396– IX (2020), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/396-20.
- 2“Ukraine–Local Elections, 25 October 2020: Statement Of Preliminary Findings And Conclusions,” International Election Observation (Kyiv: OSCE ODIHR, October 25, 2020), 6.
- 3Ibid., 5.
- 4Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, “Про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України щодо вдосконалення виборчого законодавства [About modification of some legislative acts of Ukraine concerning improvement of the election legislation],” Pub. L. No. 805– IX (2020), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/805-20.
- 5“Elections in Ukraine: 2020 Local Elections - Frequently Asked Questions” (International Foundation for Electoral Systems, October 8, 2020), https://www.ifes.org/sites/default/files/ifes_faqs_elections_in_ukraine….
- 6Petro Bodnar, Nadia Kelm, “Закриті ‘відкриті’ списки. Чому нова виборча система складна іграшка, що не змінює правила гри? [Closed ‘open’ lists. Why is the new electoral system a complicated toy that does not change the rules of the game?],” Texty.org.ua, October 9, 2020, https://texty.org.ua/articles/102050/zakryti-vidkryti-spysky-chomu-nova….
- 7ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission, “Ukraine–Local Elections, 25 October 2020: Statement Of Preliminary Findings And Conclusions,” 7.
- 8OPORA. ‘Як спрацювала нова виборча система на місцевих виборах 25 жовтня [How the new electoral system worked in the local elections on October 25]’. OPORA Blog. Elections, 20 November 2020. https://www.oporaua.org/news/vybory/mistsevi-vybory/mistsevi_2020/22442….
- 9Ukrainian Women’s Fund. ‘Statement 3 on the Interim Results of Gender Monitoring of Ukraine’s Local Elections on 25 October 2020’. Жінки — це 50 percent успіху України, 13 November 2020. https://www.uwf.org.ua/en/news/11940.
- 10Vita Dumanska, and Iryna Fedoriv. ‘Ukraine’s Local Elections: A Reality Check for Decentralization and Electoral Reforms’. Kennan Institute Blog, 12 January 2021. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/ukraines-local-elections-reality…; Nazar Boyko. ‘Наскільки відкритими виявились «відкриті списки»? [How open were the “open lists”?]’. VoxUkraine, 2 December 2020. https://voxukraine.org/uk/naskilki-vidkritimi-viyavilis-vidkriti-spiski/.
- 11“Явка виборців на місцевих виборах 25 жовтня 2020 року склала 36,88 percent [Voter turnout in the local elections on October 25, 2020 was 36.88 percent],” Центральна виборча комісія, October 26, 2020, https://cvk.gov.ua/novini/yavka-vibortsiv-na-mistsevih-viborah-25-zhovt….
- 12“Заява ОПОРИ щодо встановлення неможливості проведення місцевих виборів в окремих громадах Донецької та Луганської областей [OPORA’s statement on establishing the impossibility of holding local elections in certain communities of Donetsk and Luhansk regions],” ОПОРА, August 10, 2020, https://www.oporaua.org/statement/vybory/mistsevi-vybory/mistsevi_2020/….
- 13“Заява ОПОРИ за попередніми результатами спостереження на місцевих виборах – 2020 [Statement Of Support on the preliminary results of observation in the local elections - 2020],” ОПОРА, October 26, 2020, https://www.oporaua.org/report/vybory/mistsevi-vybory/mistsevi_2020/219….
- 14“Ukraine–Local Elections, 25 October 2020: Statement Of Preliminary Findings And Conclusions.” ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission.
- 15Ibid., 1.
|Assesses the organizational capacity and financial sustainability of the civic sector; the legal and political environment in which it operates; the functioning of trade unions; interest group participation in the policy process; and the threat posed by antidemocratic extremist groups.||5.005 7.007|
- In 2020, the Ukrainian civic sector remained vibrant albeit underinstitutionalized, as civil society demonstrated a remarkable capacity for large-scale mobilization in the face of a global pandemic. Despite the lack of state support and continued intimidation of activists, the sector remains the principal guardian of Ukraine’s democratic development. 1
- Although they express a high level of trust in civil society organizations (CSOs) and volunteers,2 citizens are mostly disengaged from their activities.3 Ukrainians engage in civic life within their communities, often bypassing organizations.4
- Civil society successfully mobilized in response to COVID-19.5 In March–April, a transformative trend towards public-private partnerships emerged in regions6 —namely, Lviv,7 Odesa,8 Kyiv,9 Poltava,10 Cherkasy11 —with local authorities, volunteers, and businesses12 joining efforts to provide medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals.13 Solidarity initiatives emerged for supporting risk groups and the needy,14 as well as helping to transport medical workers during lockdowns.15
- A new term, sorosiata (“lackeys of Soros”), was publicly coined in January to target activists and reformers who have ever been engaged with Western or Western-funded organizations.16 The organized campaign’s figureheads were former affiliates and political experts associated with the Party of Regions,17 who pushed bills equating civil society advocacy with lobbying, and restricting foreign-funded organizations as “foreign agents,” though none of these legislative proposals had been considered by year’s end.18
- After the dismissal of former prime minister Honcharuk and his government, the access of civic actors to national authorities declined.19 Nevertheless, civil society continued stewarding the anticorruption and judicial reforms. On October 30, activists responded to the Constitutional Court’s decision to dismantle the country’s anticorruption infrastructure with a public protest,20 and then proposed workable solutions to solve the ensuing constitutional crisis.21
- In early September, 77 organizations established the initiative “Elections without Sexism.”22 It raised awareness of the rights of female candidates and documented the abuse of gender quotas and incidents of sexism in the local elections campaign.23
- Over May–June and September, despite continuing pressure from local far-right groups,24 LGBT+ communities held Pride events in Kyiv,25 Kharkiv,26 Kherson, and Mykolayiv,27 and, for the first time, in Zaporizhzhia.28 These events faced no restrictions from local governments, took place under police protection, and with no major incidents. However, in Odesa, the far-right organization “Tradition and Order” obstructed the Pride march on August 30.29
- As of October, there were 74 cases of persecution of activists, including physical attacks, intimidation, and damage to property.30 Anticorruption work,31 protecting LGBT+ rights, and environmental activism32 remained the most dangerous civic sector activities.
- On March 3, the government earmarked 20 percent of state funding for organizations serving persons with disabilities to be distributed on a competitive basis. This welcome change, however, was offset by a reduction in state funding for such organizations by almost a third.33
- In 2020, a series of demonstrations indicated the growing dissatisfaction of parts of civil society with the Zelenskyy administration’s response to Russian military aggression in Donbas. On February 20,34 May 24,35 July 27,36 and September 10,37 activists of the “Movement against Capitulation” called upon the president to refuse Russia’s conditions for peace, such as designating currently occupied parts of Donbas with a special status, or accepting the representatives of occupied Donbas on equal footing with those of Kyiv during peace talks. On August 24, an alternative celebration of Independence Day, organized by the veteran-military community in response to timid official events,38 gathered 50,000 veterans, volunteers, and their families, and at least as many spectators.39 Veteran marches were also held in Lviv, Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, and Kharkiv.
- 1The authors thank Yuliya Bidenko for valuable comments to the earlier version of this section.
- 2Trusted by 47 percent and 63 percent of population, respectively. Bekeshkina, Iryna. 2020. “Початок нового політичного року: довіра до соціальних інститутів (липень 2020р.) [The beginning of a new political year: trust in social institutions (July 2020)].” Ilko Kucheriv «Democratic Initiatives» foundation. August 15, 2020. https://dif.org.ua/article/pochatok-novogo-politichnogo-roku-dovira-do-….
- 3While 19 percent report having been engaged in the activities of civic organizations, only 5 percent do so regularly. Every fifth Ukrainian (20.9 percent) donated to charities or civil society organizations. Pact. Inc. 2020. “Self-Help Nation: Ukrainians Disappointed in Reforms, but Ready to Support Each Other and Their Communities.” Pact. Inc. (blog). 2020. https://rpr.org.ua/en/news/self-help-nation-ukrainians-disappointed-in-….
- 4Pact. Inc. 2020. “Self-Help Nation: Ukrainians Disappointed in Reforms, but Ready to Support Each Other and Their Communities.” Pact. Inc. (blog). 2020. https://rpr.org.ua/en/news/self-help-nation-ukrainians-disappointed-in-….
- 5Matvishyn, Iryna. 2020. “How Ukraine’s Volunteers and Businesses Are Rescuing the Nation from COVID-19.” April 3, 2020. https://ukraineworld.org/articles/ukraine-explained/how-ukraines-volunt….
- 6Lutsevych, Orysia. 2020. “Fighting COVID-19 the Ukrainian Way.” Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank. April 28, 2020. https://www.chathamhouse.org/2020/04/fighting-covid-19-ukrainian-way.
- 7Bodnyak, Olexander. 2020. “Як львівський бізнес допомагає боротись із коронавірусом. Оновлено [How Lviv business helps fight coronavirus. Updated].” Твоє місто. March 21, 2020. http://tvoemisto.tv/news/yak_lvivskyy_biznes_dopomagaie_borotys_z_koron….
- 8Odessa operational anti-crisis headquarters. n.d. “Новости Оперативного Антикризисного Штаба По Борьбе с Коронавирусом в Одесской Области в Условиях Пандемии COVID-19 [News of the Operational Anti-Crisis Headquarters for the Fight against Coronavirus in the Odessa Region under COVID-19 Pandemic].” Accessed November 20, 2020. https://odessavscovid.info/news/.
- 9Kyiv volunteer headquarters. n.d. “Київський Волонтерський Штаб [Kyiv Volunteer Headquarters].” Kyiv Volunteer Headquarters. Accessed November 20, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/volunteerKYIV/.
- 10“Полтавська Волонтерська Група - Stop COVID-19 [Poltava Volunteer Group - Stop COVID-19].” n.d. STOP COVID-19 Полтава. Accessed November 20, 2020. https://covid19.pl.ua/.
- 11Hromadske. 2020. “Вірусна благодійність: як місцевий бізнес допомагає боротися з епідемією [Virus Charity: How Local Business Helps Fight the Epidemic].” Hromadske (blog). April 3, 2020. https://hromadske.ck.ua/yak-mistsevyj-biznes-dopomagaye-borotysya-z-epi….
- 12Litvinchuk, Tetyana. 2020. “Гроші тижня: як і якими сумами бізнес допомагає Україні боротися з пандемією COVID-19 [Money of the week: how and by what amounts business helps Ukraine fight the COVID-19 pandemic].” НВ Бізнес. March 22, 2020. https://nv.ua/ukr/biz/economics/yak-ahmetov-pinchuk-yaroslavskiy-stavni….
- 13Lutsevych, Orysia. 2020. “Fighting COVID-19 the Ukrainian Way.” Chatham House – International Affairs Think Tank. April 28, 2020. https://www.chathamhouse.org/2020/04/fighting-covid-19-ukrainian-way.
- 14For example, Solidarity: Solidarity. n.d. “Солідарність — Допомога Українцям Підчас Карантину Та Епідемії Коронавірусу [Solidarity - Helping Ukrainians during Quarantine and the Coronavirus Epidemic].” Accessed November 20, 2020. https://v2020.org.ua/?fbclid=IwAR0nev6HEKkX8jKFwX05sW4MSIE_2yDklwELbcJM…; Help your neighbour initiative to provide elderly and poor people with food and hygiene items was broadly present at the local level. For example, city of Kherson: https://fb.watch/1R4Z0h7V0s/; a town in Dnipropetrovsk region: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1336273749729981/permalink/321866870149…; Kyiv: https://fb.watch/1R55ULAZle/
- 15Drivers coordinated to give medical workers a ride across Ukraine via social media. Some examples: in Lutsk (https://www.volyn.com.ua/news/149024-initsiatyva-pidvezy-medyka-z-uchor…), Kropyvnytskyi https://gre4ka.info/suspilstvo/58101-pidvezy-medyka-kropyvnytskyi-iak-z…; Taxi service such as Uber, Bolt and Uklon provided free rides to medical workers in large cities (https://hmarochos.kiev.ua/2020/03/20/uber-i-bolt-perevozytymut-medykiv-…, https://portal.lviv.ua/news/2020/03/20/uber-bolt-ta-uklon-u-lvovi-vozyt…)
- 16Vitalii Rybak, “Divide and Conquer: The 5 Most Popular Anti-Western Narratives in Ukraine So Far in 2020,” June 23, 2020, https://ukraineworld.org/articles/infowatch/5-most-popular-anti-western….
- 17HWAG (Ukraine Crisis Media Center). ‘Who Is behind the Media Campaign against George Soros?’ Medium, 4 March 2020. https://medium.com/@hwagaucmc/who-is-behind-the-media-campaign-against-….
- 18Moskvychova, A., T. Pechonchyk, and L. Yankina. 2020. “Activism 2020: A Monitoring Report on Persecution of Activists and Human Rights Defenders. April-June 2020.” ZMINA Human Rights Centre. https://zmina.ua/content/uploads/sites/2/2020/07/activizm2020_iien-web…, p. 9-11
- 19Sydorenko, Daria, and Maksym Latsyba. ‘CSO Meter. Assessing the civil society environment in the Eastern Partnership Countries. Ukraine Country Update]’. European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, September 2020. https://csometer.info/sites/default/files/2020-11/CSO-METER-Ukraine-cou…, p. 15
- 20Deutsche Welle. ‘Ukraine: Protests in Kyiv after Top Court Scraps Anti-Graft Laws’, 30 October 2020. https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-protests-in-kyiv-after-top-court-scraps-a….
- 21For example, Foundation DEJURE. “Possible Ways of Solving the Constitutional Crisis.” Foundation DEJURE, November 2, 2020. http://en.dejure.foundation/library/possible-ways-of-solving-the-consti…, and Anticorruption Action Centre. “Analysis of the CCU’s Decision of October 27 and Possible Solutions to the Crisis It Provoked.” Anticorruption Action Centre (blog), November 2, 2020. https://antac.org.ua/en/news/analysis-of-the-ccu-s-decision-solutions-t….
- 22Повага. “У Києві презентують проєкт «Вибори без сексизму» [The project ‘Elections without sexism’ will be presented in Kyiv],” September 3, 2020. https://povaha.org.ua/u-kyjevi-prezentuyut-projekt-vybory-bez-seksyzmu/.
- 23“Ukraine Election Watch - Final Bulletin” (NDI, 2020), https://www.ndi.org/sites/default/files/NDI percent20Ukraine percent20Local percent20Elections percent20Statement percent20- percent20October percent202020 percent20- percent20ENG percent20final_v3.pdf.
- 24In 2020, such local NGOs as Tradition and Order (Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih), Freikorps (Kharkiv), Edelweiss (Vinnytsia) were obstructing the activities of LGBT communities. (Situation of LGBT p. 6). There were about 100 acts against LGBT community members, which include insults and physical violence, and six attacks on community centers, mostly in Odesa and Kharkiv.
- 25As a highlight of the virtual Kyiv Equality March, on June 21, the landmark of Kyiv – the Motherland monument – was virtually decorated with a rainbow flag using drones Shevchenko, Sashko. “«Осквернення» Монументу «Батьківщини-Матері». Як Один Райдужний Прапор Спричинив Багато Ненависті ["Defilement" of the Monument ‘Motherland’. As One Rainbow Flag Caused a Lot of Hate].” Radio Svoboda, May 23, 2020. https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/batkivshchyna-maty-prapor-lgbt/30686599….
- 26KharkivPride on 15 September was held as a vehicle (auto) rally consisting of about 20 cars carrying 100 passengers. Counter-demonstrations were held by Tradition and Order, the Right Sector and Sport Corps but they were few and peaceful Skachko, Iryna. “У Харкові Завершився Тиждень ХарківПрайду [The Week of Kharkiv Pride Ended in Kharkiv].” Права Людини в Україні, September 15, 2020. http://khpg.org/index.php?id=1600183956.
- 27“В Одесі зірвали ЛГБТ-марш: 16 затриманих, постраждали поліцейські [An LGBT march was disrupted in Odesa: 16 detainees and police officers were injured].” Українська правда, August 30, 2020. http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/08/30/7264660/.
- 28On 20 September, nearly 500 participants took part in the first in the city’s history equality march. Attempts to attack participants were neutralized by the police Pavlyuk, Oleg. “Первый ЛГБТ-прайд в Запорожье: с масками, дистанцией, петардами и револьвером [The first LGBT Pride in Zaporozhye: with masks, distance, firecrackers and a revolver],” September 20, 2020. https://hromadske.ua/ru/posts/pervyj-lgbt-prajd-v-zaporozhe-s-maskami-d….
- 29“В Одесі зірвали ЛГБТ-марш: 16 затриманих, постраждали поліцейські | Українська правда [In Odessa, the LGBT march was disrupted: 16 detainees, police officers were injured Ukrainian Pravda],” August 30, 2020. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/08/30/7264660/.
- 30Moskvychova, A., T. Pechonchyk, and L. Yankina. “Activism 2020: A Monitoring Report on Persecution of Activists and Human Rights Defenders. July-September 2020.” Kyiv: ZMINA Human Rights Centre, 2020. https://zmina.ua/content/uploads/sites/2/2020/10/activizm2020_iiiengl_w…, p. 8 ; It was 83 cases for full 2019. Українська правда. “Підпал будинку Шабуніна: активісти вимагають відставки Авакова [Arson of Shabunin’s house: activists demand Avakov’s resignation],” July 23, 2020. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/07/23/7260444/.
- 31Among the new cases, on July 23 Vitaliy Shabunin reported the arson of his house, Українська правда. “Підпал будинку Шабуніна: активісти вимагають відставки Авакова [Arson of Shabunin’s house: activists demand Avakov’s resignation],” July 23, 2020. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/07/23/7260444/.
- 32Moskvychova, A., T. Pechonchyk, and L. Yankina. “Activism 2020: A Monitoring Report on Persecution of Activists and Human Rights Defenders. July-September 2020.” Kyiv: ZMINA Human Rights Centre, 2020. https://zmina.ua/content/uploads/sites/2/2020/10/activizm2020_iiiengl_w…, p. 8
- 33Sydorenko, Daria, and Maksym Latsyba. ‘CSO Meter. Assessing the civil society environment in the Eastern Partnership Countries. Ukraine Country Update]’. European Center for Not-for-Profit Law, Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research, September 2020. https://csometer.info/sites/default/files/2020-11/CSO-METER-Ukraine-cou…, p. 21
- 34Ukrinform. ‘Під Офісом Президента проходить акція - “Зеленський, отямся! Росія - ворог!” [An action is taking place near the President’s Office - “Zelensky, come to your senses! Russia is the enemy!”]’, 20 February 2020. https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-society/2880994-pid-ofisom-prezidenta-a….
- 35Yevheniya Lutsenko. ‘На Майдані протестували проти політики Зеленського щодо війни на Донбасі [A protest on the Maidan against Zelensky’s policy regarding the war in Donbas]’. Hromadske, 24 May 2020. https://hromadske.ua/posts/na-majdani-protestuyut-proti-politiki-zelens….
- 36Ukrainska Pravda. ‘На Банковій протестують проти нової домовленості президента щодо Донбасу [A protest on Bankova is against the president’s new agreement on Donbas]’. Ukrainska Pravda, 27 July 2020. http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/07/27/7260888/.
- 37Ukrainska Pravda. ‘Інспекція в Районі Зриву “‘тиші’”: Активісти Протестували Під ОП Та в Конча-Заспі [Inspection in the Area of Breaking the “Silence”: Activists Protested near the Office of the President and in Koncha Zaspa]’. Ukrainska Pravda, 10 September 2020. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/09/10/7266015/.
- 38Alya Shandra. ‘Ukrainian Veterans Hold Record Parallel Parade in Face of Meek Official Independence Day Celebrations’. Euromaidan Press, 24 August 2020. http://euromaidanpress.com/2020/08/24/ukrainian-veterans-hold-record-pa…; Larysa Denysenko. ‘Коментар: День незалежності продемонстрував дві реальності України [Comment: Independence Day demonstrated two realities of Ukraine]’. DW.com, 25 August 2020. https://www.dw.com/uk/komentar-den-nezalezhnosti-prodemonstruvav-dvi-re….
- 39Mariya Dumanska. ‘У День незалежності у Києві провели ходу гідності й альтернативний марш ветеранів [On Independence Day, a procession of dignity and an alternative march of veterans were held in Kyiv]’. DW.com, 24 August 2020. https://www.dw.com/uk/у-день-незалежності-у-києві-провели-ходу-гідності….
|Examines the current state of press freedom, including libel laws, harassment of journalists, and editorial independence; the operation of a financially viable and independent private press; and the functioning of the public media.||3.754 7.007|
- While physical attacks against journalists continued in 2020, and new laws were considered to regulate both conventional and online outlets, Ukrainian media remained pluralistic though significantly influenced by the financial support and political agendas of their owners.1
- The television market is highly concentrated, with six media holdings accounting for 71 percent2 of Ukraine’s TV audience. Many top channels belong to oligarchs, such as Ihor Kolomoisky, Petro Poroshenko, Viktor Pinchuk, and Viktor Medvedchuk.3 The press and online media markets are diverse,4 with numerous privately owned regional outlets.5
- The year saw a decrease in news consumption across all channels, while social media and (regional) online media strengthened their positions. As internet usage reaches 90 percent, citizens have begun to get most of their news from social media (62 percent), followed by TV (52 percent), and news websites (48 percent). Print media usage has nearly halved since 2019. Trust in TV continued to decline due to misinformation and political bias. The public broadcaster Suspilne, on the contrary, doubled its audience to 4 percent6 as citizens have increasingly come to trust its unbiased reporting.7
- Suspilne effectively received only 60 percent of its entitled funding in 2020.8 This marks the fourth year of underfunding, which delayed content development and technological upgrades. The 2021 budget, adopted on December 15, continues the trend to underfund the broadcaster at 82 percent of its entitled funding.9
- Local media, despite large-scale privatization completed in 2019, do not reflect a diversity of opinions. Outlets often follow the priorities of local authorities,10 publish little original content, and poorly differentiate editorial content from advertising.11
- As of December, the Institute of Mass Information had recorded 229 cases of violations of freedom of speech (compared to 243 in 2019), and 172 of these involved physical attacks on journalists.12 For instance, the investigative journalists of Skhemy, a public television program on corruption, and the channel UA:Pershyi (UA:First) were systematically threatened. On August 8, Skhemy journalist Mykhailo Tkach reported an attempt to wiretap his home, and on August 16, a car used by journalists was set on fire.13 In July, two female independent journalists, Lyubov Velychko and Katerina Sergatskova, received threats of violence online in connection to their reporting.14
- On February 5, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) searched the headquarters of 1+1 TV and the homes of two of its reporters after the channel broadcast a leaked recording of PM Honcharuk.15 On May 13, Slidstvo.info journalist Anna Babynets was interrogated by the police for sending a request for information to a Sluha Narodu MP, Oleksandr Dubinsky.16 On October 28, the Rada, for the first time since the Revolution of Dignity, denied accreditation to Slidstvo.info, which monitors MP integrity, along with 18 other media outlets.17 A few days later, following outcry from the media community,18 the decision was revoked with help from the parliamentary speaker, Sluha Narodu MP Dmytro Razumkov.19
- On July 1, the parliamentary committee on humanitarian and information policy approved an extensively debated draft media law.20 On the one hand, the draft law envisages empowering the national regulator over broadcasters (especially relevant in situations like the “sorosiata” anti-Soros campaign)21 and also attempts to introduce coregulation.22 On the other hand, the proposed law contains problematic provisions, such as extending the national regulator’s oversight power beyond broadcasters to all information-disseminating outlets, and the authority to fully ban a media outlet as a penalty for illegal content.23 Despite international24 and domestic25 criticism, these provisions had not been amended by year’s end, and the draft law still awaits consideration.
- 1The authors are grateful to Pavlo Kolotvin for helpful remarks to earlier version of this section.
- 2Holoborodko, Yaroslav. ‘Медведчук, Пінчук, Ахметов: Кому Належать Українські ЗМІ [Medvedchuk, Pinchuk, Akhmetov: Who Owns the Ukrainian Media]’, 12 June 2020. https://news.24tv.ua/medvedchuk-pinchuk-ahmetov-komu-nalezhat-naysvizhi….
- 3Rybak, Vitaliy. ‘The Clash of Oligarchs: Key Features of Ukraine’s Media Sphere’, 4 June 2020. https://ukraineworld.org/articles/ukraine-explained/clash-oligarchs-key….
- 4Reporters without borders. ‘Political Control over Media Funding’. Media Ownership Monitor, 2016. http://ukraine.mom-rsf.org/en/findings/indicators/.
- 5Internews Ukraine. ‘Ukrainian Regional Media Guide 2020’, 2020. https://internews.ua/project/media-guide-2020.
- 6Internews Ukraine. ‘USAID-Internews 2020 Media Consumption Survey’, 20 October 2020. https://issuu.com/internews1982/docs/2020-media-consumption-survey-full….
- 7Nataliya Dankova. ‘За Чотири Роки Зросла Частка Глядачів, Готових Платити За Контент Суспільного (ДОСЛІДЖЕННЯ) [In Four Years, the Share of Viewers Willing to Pay for Content by Suspilne Has Increased (PUBLIC OPINION POLL)]’. Suspilne - Detector.Media, 18 January 2021. https://stv.detector.media/kontent/Audytoria/za_chotiri_roki_zrosla_cha….
- 8Suspilne officially received about 80 percent of the funding mandated by the respective law. Yet paying out of debts and budget cuts due to the global pandemic effectively left 60 percent of earmarked funds in the broadcaster’s disposal. See Suspilne. ‘Фінансове Питання Суспільного Мовника — Обговорення Проблеми Виділення Коштів Із Держбюджету [The Financial Issue of the Suspilne Broadcaster - a Discussion of the Problem of Allocating Funds from the State Budget]’. Suspilne Corporate News. Accessed 19 January 2021. https://corp.suspilne.media/newsdetails/3076. .
- 9CEDEM. ‘Бюджет-2021: скорочення фінансування Суспільного [Budget-2021: reduction of Public funding]’. Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law. Accessed 19 January 2021. http://cedem.org.ua/news/budzhet-finansuvannya-suspilnogo/.
- 10‘Реформовані ЗМІ Перед Виборами: Дайджести Політичної Агітації, Хвалебні Оди Місцевій Владі [Reformed Media before the Election: Digests of Political Campaigning, Praise Ode to Local Authorities | Institute of Mass Media]’, 4 November 2020. https://imi.org.ua/monitorings/reformovani-zmi-pered-vyboramy-dajdzhest….
- 11Steblina, Natalia. ‘Редакційна залежність та інтернет-слабкість реформованих українських ЗМІ. Частина 1 [Editorial dependence and Internet weakness of the reformed Ukrainian media. Part 1]’, 3 May 2020. https://imi.org.ua/monitorings/redaktsijna-zalezhnist-ta-internet-slabk….
- 12‘229 випадків порушень свободи слова ІМІ зафіксував в Україні у 2020 році [IMI Registered 229 Cases of Violations of Freedom of Speech in 2020]’, Institute for Mass Information, 28 December 2020. https://imi.org.ua/articles/229-vypadkiv-porushen-svobody-slova-imi-zaf….
- 13Reporters without borders. ‘Harassment of Ukrainian TV Journalists’. RSF, 8 August 2020. https://rsf.org/en/news/harassment-ukrainian-tv-journalists.
- 14Reporters without borders. ‘Ukraine: Two Women Journalists Harassed and Threatened Online over Their Reporting’. RSF, 9 August 2020. https://rsf.org/en/news/ukraine-two-women-journalists-harassed-and-thre….
- 15Reporters without borders. ‘RSF Decries Ukrainian Security Raids on TV Channel’. RSF, 9 February 2020. https://rsf.org/en/news/rsf-decries-ukrainian-security-raids-tv-channel….
- 16Detector Media. ‘Головну Редакторку «Слідства.Інфо» Бабінець Викликали На Допит Через Запит Дубінському [Babinets, Editor-in-Chief of Slidstva.Info, Was Summoned for Questioning Due to a Request from Dubinsky]’, 8 May 2020. https://detector.media/community/article/177000/2020-05-08-golovnu-reda….
- 17Ira Ryaboshtan. ‘Пресслужба Верховної Ради Позбавила Акредитації «Слідство.Інфо» Та Ще 18 Видань [The Press Service of the Verkhovna Rada Deprived Slidstvo.Info and 18 Other Publications of Accreditation]’. Detector Media, 28 October 2020. https://detector.media/community/article/181970/2020-10-28-pressluzhba-….
- 18Slidstvo.info. ‘Медіаспільнота закликала правоохоронців почати розслідування щодо позбавлення акредитації ВР «Слідства.Інфо» [The media community called on law enforcement officers to launch an investigation into the cancellation of accreditation of Slidstvo.info at the Verkhovna Rada]’. Slidstvo.info (blog), 28 October 2020. https://www.slidstvo.info/news/mediaspilnota-zaklykala-pravoohorontsiv-….
- 19Channel 24 News. ‘Разумков відреагував на скасування акредитації журналістів у Раді та дав термінове доручення [Razumkov reacted to the abolition of accreditation of journalists in the Rada and gave an urgent order]’. Channel 24, 28 October 2020. https://news.24tv.ua/skasuvannya-akreditatsiyi-zhurnalistiv-radi-reakts….
- 20Maryana Zakusylo. ‘Закон «Про Медіа»: Профільний Комітет Підтримав Доопрацьований Проєкт [Law “On Media”: The Profile Parliamentary Committee Supported the Revised Project]’. Detector Media, 1 July 2020. https://detector.media/rinok/article/178415/2020-07-01-zakon-pro-media-….
- 21Mykhailo Poturayev. ‘Без Емоцій Та “Страшилок”. Що Насправді у Законопроєкті Про Медіа [Without Emotions and “Horror Stories”. What Is Really in the Media Bill?]’. Ukrainska Pravda Columns, 3 July 2020. https://www.pravda.com.ua/columns/2020/07/3/7258030/.
- 22Rozkladay, Ihor, and Nataliya Ligachova. ‘Media reform’. Reanimation Package of Reforms UA Reforms, 2020. https://uareforms.org/en/reforms/media-reform
- 23Detector Media. ‘The Media Movement backs adoption of Bill on Media, but calls to rectify some of its problematic provisions’. detector.media, 9 July 2020. https://detector.media/community/article/178653/2020-07-09-the-media-mo….; Joan Barata Mir. ‘Legal Review of the Draft Law of Ukraine “On Media”’. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe The Representative on Freedom of the Media, 2 March 2020. https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/447508.
- 24‘OSCE Media Freedom Representative Publishes Legal Analysis of Draft Ukrainian Media Law, with Recommendations to Authorities’. 2 March 2020 https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/447526.
- 25National Association of Ukrainian Journalists. ‘Законопроєкт “Про медіа” (№2693д), який обмежує свободу слова в країні, потрібно зняти з розгляду Верховної Ради України [Draft Law on Media, which restricts freedom of speech in the country, should be withdrawn from consideration by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine]’, 14 December 2020. http://nsju.org/novini/zakonoproyekt-pro-media- percente2 percent84 percent962693d-yakyj-obmezhuye-svobodu-slova-v-krayini-potribno-znyaty-z-rozglyadu-verhovnoyi-rady-ukrayiny/.; Institute for Mass Information. ‘Законопроєкт про медіа: нові правки vs регламент [Draft Law on Media: new amendments vs regulations]’, 2 December 2020. https://imi.org.ua/monitorings/zakonoproyekt-pro-media-novi-pravky-vs-r….
|Considers the decentralization of power; the responsibilities, election, and capacity of local governmental bodies; and the transparency and accountability of local authorities.||3.253 7.007|
- Although progress was made in Ukraine’s administrative-territorial reform, including safeguards for the fiscal autonomy of local self-governments, the system itself remained unbalanced in 2020 as local-government revenues dropped amid the COVID-19 crisis. Regional and local elites gained leverage in the discussions on decentralization reform and cemented their power following the October municipal elections.1
- In 2020, Ukraine adopted a new system of administrative-territorial division.2 As of June 12, the third tier of governance consists of 1,470 territorial communities (hromadas).3 About 1,000 communities had already amalgamated voluntarily by the end of 2019.4 The remaining communities were administratively reorganized into territories, sometimes over the objections and opposition of residents.5 In mid-July, 136 new districts (rayons) were formed in a hasty and non-inclusive process despite fears by some of lost autonomy at the community level.6 Yet new district divisions were necessary to avoid duplication of powers due to matching jurisdictions of new consolidated communities and old districts in the aftermath of the municipal elections.7
- Communities received guarantees of fiscal autonomy from both district and regional levels with amendments to the Budget Code on September 17.8 This is a step towards minimizing the leverage of local power groups over consolidated communities.9 On December 6, a law clarifying the rules of succession of property and financial obligations to newly formed territorial units from their predecessors10 came into force, thus providing material resources and competences for the provision of public service.11
- State funding for local self-government decreased by 44 percent in 2020, even as local institutions were tasked with additional COVID-19 competences.12 Although a dramatic reduction, these changes are an improvement compared to the original proposal by the government, which had envisaged a 66-percent decrease in state transfers and an elimination of regional development funds.13 All political factions vehemently rejected the original proposal.14 On September 14, the government mandated local budgets to finance COVID-19 measures during the local elections, characterizing this responsibility as their standard competence against the spread of infectious disease.15 Local governments criticized this decision, claiming the national government is responsible for election-related expenses.16
- Local governments enhanced their operational transparency and introduced participatory innovations during the year. As of July, the participatory budget—a mechanism that allows residents to propose and vote on projects for implementation—was practiced in at least 100 territorial communities and has engaged input from 1.2 million residents. During the year, the regional authorities of Mykolaiv, Lviv, Odesa, Vinnytsia, and Kharkiv joined the All-Ukrainian participatory budget. On May 14, the government earmarked UAH 30 billion from the State Fund for Regional Development for the All-Ukrainian participatory budget.17
- On December 17, Hennadiy Kernes, mayor-elect of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv,18 died from complications of COVID-19. Because of the strategic and economic importance of this city located close to the Russian border, as well as its brief history of separatism in 2014, the nature of political settlement in Kharkiv will be one of the major issues in national politics in 2021.19 The Rada had yet to schedule elections for the new mayor by year’s end.20
- Mayors of regional centers often challenged or sabotaged the COVID-19 measures mandated by the central government. This dynamic culminated two weeks after the introduction of “weekend lockdowns” in November, when the government backtracked the mandate, hinting at a lack of cooperation from local authorities.21 At the same time, the central government began consulting with local and regional authorities on new public safety measures.22
- In January, an inclusive consultation process began elaborating changes to align the constitution with the outcomes of the decentralization reform, which will continue into 2021.23 These consultations, involving civic experts,24 associations of local authorities,25 MPs, and the government, are ongoing with regard to two new legislative proposals that further delineate the competences of local state administrations and local self-government.26
- 1The authors thank Oleksandra Kalashnikova for helpful suggestions to the earlier draft of this section.
- 2For detailed overview for new administrative units, see Ministry for development of communities and territories. ‘Адміністративно-Територіальний Устрій України [Administrative Division of Ukraine]’, July 2020. https://atu.decentralization.gov.ua/.
- 3Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. ‘Уряд визначив адміністративні центри та затвердив території територіальних громад усіх областей [The government has identified administrative centers and approved the territories of territorial communities in all oblasts]’, 12 June 2020. https://www.kmu.gov.ua/news/uryad-viznachiv-administrativni-centri-ta-z….
- 4Decentralization Initiative. ‘Monitoring Of The Process Of Decentralisation Of Power And Local Self-Government Reform’, 10 December 2019. https://decentralization.gov.ua/uploads/library/file/523/10.12.2019_-_E….
- 5Examples of protest in regions include Luhansk, 31.01.2020: Olha Naydyonova. ‘На Сватівщині Сільські Громади Протестують Проти Останнього Перспективного Плану Створення ОТГ [In Svativshchyna, Rural Communities Are Protesting against the Latest Long-Term Plan to Establish an ATC]’, 31 January 2020. https://svatove.city/read/rayon/62897/na-svativschini-silski-gromadi-pr….; Kherson, 12.05.2020: Verlata, Natalya. ‘Жителі 4 сіл на Херсонщині проти об’єднання в одну ОТГ (репортаж) [Residents of 4 villages in Kherson region against merging into one ATC (report)]’. Suspilne News, 12 May 2020. https://suspilne.media/33318-ziteli-4-sil-na-hersonsini-vijsli-na-akciu…?, Ivano-Frankivsk, 19.07.2020: Polivchak, Ruslana. ‘Жителі двох прикарпатських сіл протестують проти приєднання до Тисменицької ОТГ [Residents of two Carpathian villages are protesting against joining the Tysmenytsia ATC]’. Suspilne News, 19 July 2020. https://suspilne.media/49160-ziteli-dvoh-prikarpatskih-sil-protestuut-p…?, residents from a community in Volyn region protested on 29.05.2020 in front of the government building: Oleksandr Pryimak. ‘«Гуто-Боровенській ОТГ бути»: громада взяла участь у мітингові під Кабміном ["Guto-Borovenska ATC to be": the community took part in a rally near the Cabinet of Minister’s building]’. Polissya, 29 May 2020. http://polissia.net/?p=11364.
- 6Decentralization Initiative Press Center. ‘«Новий Районний Поділ Жодним Чином Не Вплине На Життя Мешканців Громад». Інтерв’ю Віталія Безгіна ["The New District Division Will Not Affect the Lives of Community Residents in Any Way." Interview with Vitaly Bezgin]’, 18 June 2020. https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/12546.; Elina Sardalova. ‘«Нова діжка, старе вино»: за що критикують новий поділ на райони і що кажуть його прихильники ["New barrel, old wine": what the new division into districts is criticized for and what its supporters say]’. Radio Svoboda, 2 July 2020. https://www.radiosvoboda.org/a/krytyka-novoho-podilu-na-rayony/30701785…; Association of Ukrainian Cities. ‘АМУ Не Підтримує Проект Постанови Верховної Ради України “Про Утворення Та Ліквідацію Районів” [AUC Does Not Support the Draft Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine "On the Formation and Liquidation of Districts]’, 16 June 2020. http://auc.org.ua/novyna/amu-ne-pidtrymuye-proekt-postanovy-verhovnoyi-….
- 7Demytro Synyak. ‘«Це Фатальна Помилка, у Якій Доведеться Розкаюватися Дуже Швидко», - Ігор Коліушко Про Можливі Наслідки Неприйняття Законопроєкту №3651 ["This Is a Fatal Mistake, Which Will Be Repented Very Quickly," - Igor Koliushko on the Possible Consequences of Not Passing the Bill №3651]’. Decentralization Initiative, 23 September 2020. https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/12816.
- 8Parliament of Ukraine. ‘Прийнято Закон “Про Внесення Змін До Бюджетного Кодексу України Щодо Приведення у Відповідність Положень Бюджетного Законодавства у Зв’язку Із Завершенням Адміністративно-Територіальної Реформи” [The Law “On Amendments to the Budget Code of Ukraine Concerning Alignment with the Provisions of Budget Legislation in Connection with the Completion of Administrative-Territorial Reform” Was Adopted]’, 17 September 2020. https://www.rada.gov.ua/news/Novyny/197646.html.
- 9Olga Kyrylenko. ‘Усе, що треба знати про 136 нових районів України. 15 запитань та відповідей [New districts of Ukraine: 15 answers to frequently asked questions]’. Ukrainska Pravda, 27 July 2020. http://www.pravda.com.ua/articles/2020/07/27/7260764/.
- 10Проект Закону про внесення змін до деяких законодавчих актів України щодо впорядкування окремих питань організації та діяльності органів місцевого самоврядування та районних державних адміністрацій [Draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning the Regulation of Certain Issues of Organization and Activity of Local Self-Government Bodies and District State Administrations], Pub. L. No. 3651- d (2020). http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_2?id=&pf3516=3651- percentD0 percentB4&skl=10.
- 11Association of Ukrainian Cities. ‘Парламент Прийняв Закон, Який Сприятиме Подальшій Реформі Територіальної Організації Влади в Україні [Parliament Has Passed a Law That Will Facilitate Further Reform of the Territorial Organization of Power in Ukraine]’, 17 November 2020. http://auc.org.ua/novyna/parlament-pryynyav-zakon-yakyy-spryyatyme-poda….
- 12Vladyslav Obukh. ‘“Коронавірусне” скорочення Держбюджету-2020: могло бути гірше ["Coronavirus" reduction of the State Budget 2020: could be worse]’. Ukrinform, 13 April 2020. https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-polytics/3004922-koronavirusne-skorocen….
- 13Ekonomichna Pravda. ‘У новому бюджеті місцевим громадам скоротять фінансування на 11 мільярдів [The new budget will reduce funding for local communities by 11 billion]’. Економічна правда, 11 April 2020. https://www.epravda.com.ua/news/2020/04/11/659253/.
- 14Ekonomichna Pravda. ‘Фракції Ради відкинули пропозиції Кабміну щодо змін до держбюджету — Железняк [Factions of the Rada rejected the proposals of the Cabinet of Ministers on changes to the state budget - Zheleznyak]’. Економічна правда, 26 March 2020. https://www.epravda.com.ua/news/2020/03/26/658571/.
- 15Ukraine Crisis Media Center. ‘Місцеві Вибори 2020 і COVID: Що Варто Знати Про Правила Безпеки [Local Elections 2020 and COVID: What You Need to Know about Safety Rules]’, n.d. https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/12858.
- 16ATC Association. ‘Асоціація ОТГ вимагає перегляду рішення Уряду щодо здійснення протиепідемічних заходів у зв’язку з організацією та проведенням місцевих виборів [ATC Association demands reconsideration of Government decision on anti-epidemic measures in connection with organization and holding of local elections]’, 6 October 2020. https://hromady.org/асоціація-отг-вимагає-перегляду-ріше/.
- 17‘Мінрегіон: Уряд затвердив перелік інвестиційних програм та проектів, що можуть фінансуватись з ДФРР у 2020 році [Ministry of Regional Development: Government approves list of investment programs and projects that can be financed by SFRD in 2020]’, 14 May 2020. https://www.minregion.gov.ua/press/news/minregion-uryad-zatverdyv-perel….
- 18Vladislav Davidzon. ‘Swaggering Jewish Gangster Mayor Hennadiy Kernes, Reluctant Savior of Kharkiv, Is Felled by COVID’. Tablet Magazine, 24 December 2020. /sections/news/articles/hennadiey-kernes-obituary-covid.
- 19Brian Mefford. ‘Death of Kharkiv Mayor Kernes Marks End of Era’. Atlantic Council (blog), 22 December 2020. https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/death-of-kharkiv-may….
- 20Oleksandra Indyukhova. ‘Після смерті Геннадія Кернеса: куди прямує Харків? [After the death of Hennadiy Kernes: where is Kharkiv going? (video)]’. DW.COM, 30 December 2020. https://www.dw.com/uk/після-смерті-геннадія-кернеса-куди-прямує-харків-….
- 21BBC News. ‘Карантину вихідного дня більше не буде, а що буде? Все, що відомо про плани влади [There will be no more weekend quarantine, but what will happen? What is known about the government’s plans]’. BBC News Ukraine, 2 December 2020. https://www.bbc.com/ukrainian/features-55160624.
- 22Valentyna Romanenko. ‘Карантин вихідного дня скасовано. Діятиме помаранчева зона [Weekend quarantine has been lifted. The orange zone will operate]’. Українська правда, 2 December 2020. https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/12/2/7275614/.
- 23Decentralization Initiative Press Center. ‘Розробка Змін До Конституції в Частині Децентралізації: Результати Заходів в Регіонах [Development of Amendments to the Constitution in Terms of Decentralization: The Results of Measures in the Regions]’, 1 October 2020. https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/12839.
- 24Reanimation Package of Reforms. ‘Заява Коаліції РПР щодо нової редакції закону про місцеві державні адміністрації [Statement of the RPR Coalition on the new version of the law on local state administrations]’, 5 October 2020. https://rpr.org.ua/news/zaiava-rpr-zakon-pro-mistsevi-derzhavni-adminis….
- 25Association of Ukrainian Cities. ‘АМУ Долучилася До Обговорення Змін До Закону Про Місцеве Самоврядування [The AUC Joined the Discussion of Changes to the Law on Local Self-Government]’, 12 November 2020. http://auc.org.ua/novyna/amu-doluchylasya-do-obgovorennya-zmin-do-zakon….
- 26Hurin Dmytro. ‘Facebook statement by the Head of the parliamentary working group on draft law on Local Self-Governance’, 11 November 2020. https://www.facebook.com/mitya.gurin/posts/3989522111077527 11 November 2020,; Decentralization Initiative Press Center. ‘Основні Зміни у Проекті Нової Редакції Закону Про Місцеве Самоврядування - Інфографіка [The Main Changes in the Draft of the New Version of the Law on Local Self-Government , Infographics]’, 5 October 2020. https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/12850.; Decentralization Initiative Press Center. ‘Проект Нової Редакції Закону Про Місцеві Державні Адміністрації Буде Зареєстрований у Парламенті До 20 Жовтня [The Draft of the New Version of the Law on Local State Administrations Will Be Registered in the Parliament by October 20]’, 6 October 2020. https://decentralization.gov.ua/news/12855.
|Assesses constitutional and human rights protections, judicial independence, the status of ethnic minority rights, guarantees of equality before the law, treatment of suspects and prisoners, and compliance with judicial decisions.||2.252 7.007|
- In 2020, the judiciary posed a serious threat not only to major reforms but also to Ukraine’s economy and political security. Intra-institutional conflict escalated into a full-blown constitutional crisis by the end of the year. In August, 77.5 percent of citizens did not trust the judiciary, making it one of the country’s least trusted institutions.1
- Reforms aimed at changing the procedures for selecting and reassessing judges were ongoing during the year but faced immense judicial opposition.2 In February, the High Council of Justice (HCJ), which appoints and dismisses judges, blocked the implementation of a 2019 law establishing a special Commission on Integrity and Ethics, and dissolved the High Qualification Committee of Judges.3 The HQCJ was dissolved without the creation of a corresponding new body, resulting in a justice system that now lacks 25 percent of its former human resources; these serious staffing issues will undoubtedly hamper the work of the judiciary as well as prevent lustration of judges who violate ethics standards.4 In March, the Constitutional Court ruled outright that the provisions of the 2019 law are unconstitutional.5 Moreover, a comprehensive effort to clear the justice system of corrupt judges failed.
- On October 27, the Constitutional Court (CC) declared several provisions of the “Law on the Prevention of Corruption” as unconstitutional.6 This decision prohibits gathering, storing, and publishing e-declarations as well as monitoring the lifestyle of public officials; it also restricts open access to the register of e-declarations and abolishes criminal liability for providing false information on assets. The CC further interpreted that the authority of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) to verify asset declarations should be a responsibility of judicial self-governance. In this dubious argument, the CC thereby claimed that ensuring judicial independence was the main rationale for abolishing asset declarations for all public officials. Leading CSOs roundly condemned the court’s decisions.7 The international community stressed that maintaining anticorruption infrastructure is the core requirement of the EU visa-free regime and macro-financial support for Ukraine, which is now undermined by the court’s actions.8 The CC decision was made in a closed session, while some presiding judges had conflicts of interest due to ongoing investigations into their undeclared assets.9 Four CC judges opposed the court’s decision.
- The CC’s decisions were broadly criticized by the international community, including the Venice Commission, for their vague reasoning and potentially negative impact on the prevention and investigation of corruption.10 Although the Rada restored the obligation of public officials to declare their assets, and the NACP’s authority to check them, experts and civil society activists criticized the weak penalty for violating this obligation.11 The judiciary’s institutional conflict was further exacerbated by the presidential decree dismissing the head of the Constitutional Court, Oleksandr Tupytskyi, in December.12
- In July, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) charged several judges of the Kyiv District Administrative Court (KDAC)13 with organized crime, usurpation of power, bribery, and unlawful interference with government officials.14 KDAC has a unique position in the system of administrative courts, as it considers disputes with national authorities and can overturn political decisions. Several decisions by KDAC in 2020 were highly disputed in the wider society since they ruled in favor of vested interests and against reform-oriented politicians.15 Furthermore, on November 16, KDAC overturned the ruling to arrest former president Viktor Yanukovych in the case of violent measures ordered against Maidan protesters on February 18–20, 2014.16
- 1Bekeshkina, Iryna. “Початок нового політичного року: довіра до соціальних інститутів (липень 2020р.) [The beginning of a new political year: trust in social institutions (July 2020)].” Ilko Kucheriv «Democratic Initiatives» foundation, August 15, 2020. https://dif.org.ua/article/pochatok-novogo-politichnogo-roku-dovira-do-….
- 2“Indicators to Determine Non-Compliance of Judges and Judicial Candidates with Integrity and Professional Ethics Criteria” (Kyiv: Public Integrity Council, January 12, 2019), https://grd.gov.ua/wp-content/uploads/data/files/PIC percent20Indicators percent28Criteria percent29_ENG.pdf.
- 3Mykhailo Zhernakov, “Вища рада правосуддя провалила судову реформу Зеленського [The High Council of Justice failed Zelensky’s judicial reform],” The DEJURE Foundation, February 7, 2020, https://dejure.foundation/tpost/dp5m1gps4u-vischa-rada-pravosuddya-prov….
- 5“Ухвалено Рішення у справі за конституційним поданням Верховного Суду щодо судоустрою та статусу суддів | Конституційний Суд України [Decision on the case on the constitutional petition of the Supreme Court on the judiciary and the status of judges | Constitutional Court of Ukraine],” March 11, 2020, http://ccu.gov.ua/novyna/uhvaleno-rishennya-u-spravi-za-konstytuciynym-….
- 6“Рішення Конституційного Суду [Judgment of the Constitutional Court],” Pub. L. No. 828- ІХ (2020), http://www.ccu.gov.ua/sites/default/files/docs/13_p_2020.pdf.
- 7“The Constitutional Court Destroyed the Asset Declaration System: Analysis of the Decision,” The DEJURE Foundation, October 29, 2020, http://en.dejure.foundation/tpost/infmmup741-the-constitutional-court-d…; Reanimation Package of Reforms, “Позиція Коаліції РПР щодо ситуації, яка склалася після Рішення КСУ про визнання неконституційними положень антикорупційного закону та кримінальної відповідальності за завідомо недостовірне декларування [The position of the RPR Coalition on the situation that has developed since the decision of the CCU to declare unconstitutional the provisions of the anti-corruption law and criminal liability for knowingly false declarations],” Reanimation Package of Reforms official website (blog), November 4, 2020, https://rpr.org.ua/news/pozytsiia-koalitsii-rpr-shchodo-sytuatsii-iaka-….
- 8“В ЄС вважають рішення КСУ підставою для тимчасового призупинення безвізу [The EU considers the decision of the CCU to be the basis for the temporary suspension of visa-free travel],” Європейська правда, October 29, 2020, https://www.eurointegration.com.ua/news/2020/10/29/7115875/.
- 9НАЗК NACP, Голова НАЗК Про Рішення Конституційного Суду України Та Закриття Реєстру Декларацій [Chairman of the NAPC on the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the Closure of the Register of Declarations], 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjgjkb1bKyk.
- 10Carozza, Mr Paolo, Marta Cartabia, Mr Srdjan Darmanovic, and Mr Christoph Grabenwarter. UKRAINE: URGENT OPINIONON THE REFORM OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, Pub. L. No. Opinion No. 1012/2020, CDL-PI(2020)019 20 (2020). https://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-….
- 11Kalitenko, Oleksandr. “Президент пропонує ув’язнювати за брехню в декларації.” Трансперенсі Інтернешнл Україна, February 1, 2021. https://ti-ukraine.org/news/pokarannya-za-brehnyu-v-deklaratsiyi-vid-ze….
- 12УКАЗ ПРЕЗИДЕНТА УКРАЇНИ Про відсторонення від посади судді Конституційного Суду України, Pub. L. No. №607/2020, 29. 12. 2020. https://www.president.gov.ua/documents/6072020-36197.
- 13In 2019 NABU investigated KDAC for the first time and pressed charges against KDAC chairman Pavlo Vovk and three other judges for interfering with the work of HQCJ in order to avoid re-certification. Nevertheless, HCJ refused to to withdraw Vovk from his position. For more background see: http://oaskfails.antac.org.ua/en?utm_source=International+partners&utm_…
- 14“Зловживання в ОАСК: нові епізоди [Abuse in KDAC: new episodes],” National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine official website, July 17, 2020, https://nabu.gov.ua/novyny/zlovzhyvannya-v-oask-novi-epizody.
- 15For examples see the overview of KDAC rulings analyzed by the NGO AntAC: http://oaskfails.antac.org.ua/en?utm_source=International+partners&utm_…
- 16Viktoria Kolomiiets and Viktoria Roshchyna, “Апеляційний суд скасував рішення про заочний арешт Януковича у справі про розгін Майдану [The Court of Appeal overturns the decision to arrest Yanukovych in absentia in the case of dispersing the Maidan],” Hromadske, November 16, 2020, https://hromadske.ua/posts/sprava-pro-rozgin-majdanu-apelyacijnij-sud-s….
|Looks at public perceptions of corruption, the business interests of top policymakers, laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, and the efficacy of anticorruption initiatives.||2.252 7.007|
- In 2020, special anticorruption agencies reached an optimal working mode that enabled effective investigation and conviction of corruption, including high-level public officials. This positive trend was challenged, though, primarily by the judiciary.
- Beginning in June, the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) passed its first verdicts. In 6 of 15 convictions, the defendants were given sentences of 3–8 years. Among the convicted individuals were MPs, directors of state enterprises, a judge, and an investigator of the prosecutor’s office.1 Multiple cases against high-level corruption are ongoing.
- However, interference with the work of the HACC is increasing. In October, the Constitutional Court challenged the constitutionality of the HACC. Yet an independent expert panel concluded that the HACC does not violate the Ukrainian constitution.2 In October, a panel of HACC judges, working on an embezzlement case involving the state-owned enterprises Energoatom and VostGOK, reported interference by attorneys of the HCJ and the Prosecutor General.3 Even more serious instances of apparent intimidation occurred when, on October 7, an explosion occurred in the lead judge’s regular parking spot.4
- By June, the independent NABU and Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) showed convincing results from corruption investigations in both the public and private sectors.5 On June 15, NABU detained three persons who had offered a bribe of $5 million to the heads of NABU and SAPO to close the investigation against former minister of ecology and natural resources Mykola Zlochevsky.6
- Against this backdrop of successful investigation and prosecution of grand corruption, the pressure on special anticorruption agencies dramatically increased.7 Early in the year, the Rada attempted to pass a series of controversial laws8 aimed at dismissing the head of NABU, Artem Sytnyk. On August 28, the Constitutional Court ruled the NABU appointment of Sytnyk unconstitutional.9 According to independent legal experts, Sytnyk may remain in his post even after the court’s verdict, and his orders remain valid,10 but the government must establish a new procedure for appointing NABU leadership.11
- The head of the independent SAPO, Nazar Kholodnytskyi, resigned on August 21, although his term was not up until December.12 Previously, the new Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, had initiated an investigation of Kholodnytskyi and submitted a complaint to the disciplinary commission.13
- The National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) was reshuffled in early 2020, which significantly improved the effectiveness of the entire infrastructure of special anticorruption bodies. The new team, under the direction of Oleksandr Novikov, assumed work in January. The Civic Council at the NACP,14 elected in an open public voting procedure, monitors the independence and effectiveness of the agency, and participates in developing anticorruption strategy.15
- The Law on Protection of Whistleblowers16 came into force during the year. The statute fulfills the main requirements of the EU directive on the protection of whistleblowers,17 namely, protection of labor rights and protection against criminal prosecution. In 2020, the NACP reported 15 successful lawsuits on issues of whistleblower protection.18
- After three years without an updated anticorruption strategy, on November 5, the Rada adopted the Anti-Corruption Strategy draft law for 2020–24 in the first reading,19 with the main goal of ensuring integrity of justice in Ukraine.20
Dr. Oksana Huss is a researcher in Political Science at Bologna University, Italy. The topics of her expertise include social movements against corruption and the role of ICTs, as well as interdisciplinary theories and methods of corruption research. Huss provides consultancy on open government and anticorruption to the Council of Europe, European Union, UNESCO, and UNODC. She is cofounder of the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRNetwork.org).
Oleksandra Keudel is a PhD candidate at the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany), and a research consultant for international organizations and Ukrainian nongovernmental organizations. Her major research interest is local citizen participation, knowledge production, and civil society–state relations with a special focus on hybrid regimes and Ukraine. She also has managed international projects in the Ukrainian private sector as well as in the field of civil society development in Sweden and Germany.
- 1Andrii Savin and Mykola Chuk, “Рік Антикорупційному суду. Перші підсумки роботи [Year of the Anti-Corruption Court. The first results of the work],” Українська правда, September 7, 2020, http://www.pravda.com.ua/articles/2020/09/7/7265567/.
- 2“Спільний висновок щодо конституційності створення та діяльності ВАКС [Joint conclusion on the constitutionality of the establishment and operation of the HACC],” Reanimation Package of Reforms (blog), October 8, 2020, https://rpr.org.ua/news/spil-nyy-vysnovok-shchodo-konstytutsiynosti-stv….
- 3“CSOs Condemn Attorneys’ Pressure on HACC Judges and Expect Harsh Response from Prosecutor General,” Anticorruption Action Centre (blog), October 12, 2020, https://antac.org.ua/en/news/csos-condemn-attorneys-pressure-on-hacc-ju….
- 4“ВАКС звернувся до ВРП та Генерального прокурора щодо втручання у діяльність суддів учасниками справи про завдання збитків ДП НАЕК «Енергоатом» та ДП «Схід ГЗК» [HACC appealed to the GRP and the Prosecutor General regarding interference in the activities of judges by the participants in the case of damages to NNEGC Energoatom and SE Vostok GOK],” Судова влада України, October 7, 2020, http://court.gov.ua/hcac/pres-centr/news/1003980/.
- 5For the examples of investigation results on major cases see National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, “NABU Report. January-June 2020,” 15–17.; “Abuse of Office by the Kyiv District Administrative Court Judges (UPDATED),” National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, July 21, 2020, https://nabu.gov.ua/en/novyny/abuse-office-kyiv-district-administrative….
- 6Zdravko Ljubas, “Ukraine’s Anti-Graft Officers Offered Record $6M Bribe to Drop Case,” OCCRP, June 15, 2020, https://www.occrp.org/en/daily/12535-ukraine-s-anti-graft-officers-offe….
- 7Cristina Gherasimova and Iryna Solonenko, “Rule of Law Reform after Zelenskyi’s First Year | DGAP,” German Council of Foreign Relations, May 2020, https://dgap.org/en/research/publications/rule-law-reform-after-zelensk….
- 8Illegal Attempt to Dismiss NABU Director – Map of Anticorruption Conditionalities,” Map of Anticorruption Conditionalities (blog), February 7, 2020, https://map.antac.org.ua/news/illegal-attempt-to-dismiss-nabu-director/.
- 9“Указ Президента України „Про Призначення А. Ситника Директором Національного Антикорупційного Бюро України“ Визнано Неконституційним [Decree of the President of Ukraine ‘On the Appointment of A. Sytnyk as Director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine’ Declared Unconstitutional],” Конституційний Суд України, August 28, 2020, http://www.ccu.gov.ua/novyna/ukaz-prezydenta-ukrayiny-pro-pryznachennya….
- 10“Всі видані до рішення КСУ накази Ситника на посаді Директора НАБУ є дійсними, – юристи [All Sytnyk’s orders issued before the decision of the CCU as the Director of NABU are valid, - lawyers],” Reanimation Package of Reforms (blog), September 2, 2020, https://rpr.org.ua/news/vsi-vydani-do-rishennia-ksu-nakazy-sytnyka-na-p….
- 11“The Decision of the Constitutional Court Does Not Compromise NABU’s Activity. AntAC’s Analysis,” Anticorruption Action Centre (blog), September 17, 2020, https://antac.org.ua/en/news/the-decision-of-the-constitutional-court-d….
- 12“Head of SAPO Nazar Kholodnytskyi Resigned,” Transparency International Ukraine, August 21, 2020, https://ti-ukraine.org/en/news/head-of-sapo-nazar-kholodnytskyi-resigne….
- 13Alyona Mazurenko, “Венедіктова каже, що виявила порушення в роботі Холодницького [Venediktov says she found violations in Kholodnytsky’s work],” Українська правда, June 9, 2020, http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2020/06/9/7254997/.
- 14On the Public Council under the NACP,” National Agency on Corruption Prevention, 2020, https://nazk.gov.ua/en/about-the-public-council-at-the-napc/.
- 15Andrii Borovyk, “One More Step in NACP Reframing | Transparency International Ukraine,” Transparency International of Ukraine, April 29, 2020, https://ti-ukraine.org/en/blogs/one-more-step-in-nacp-reframing/.
- 16“Про внесення змін до Закону України ‘Про запобігання корупції’ щодо викривачів корупції [On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Prevention of Corruption’ Concerning Whistleblowers of Corruption],” Pub. L. No. 198– IX (2019), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/198-20.“Про внесення змін до Закону України ‘Про запобігання корупції’ щодо викривачів корупції” (2019), https://zakon.rada.gov.ua/go/198-20.
- 17“Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the Protection of Persons Who Report Breaches of Union Law,” Pub. L. No. 2019/1937, 40 (2019), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX percent3A32019L1937.“Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019 on the Protection of Persons Who Report Breaches of Union Law” (2019).
- 18“Моніторинг діяльності Національного агентства [Monitoring the activities of the National Agency],” National Agency on Corruption Prevention, June 1, 2020, https://nazk.gov.ua/uk/monitoryng-diyalnosti-natsionalnogo-agenstva/.
- 19“Проект Закону про засади державної антикорупційної політики на 2020-2024 роки [Draft Law on the Principles of State Anti-Corruption Policy for 2020-2024],” Pub. L. No. 938- ІХ (2020), http://w1.c1.rada.gov.ua/pls/zweb2/webproc4_1?pf3511=70007.
- 20“Експерти закликали якнайшвидче ухвалити Антикорупційну стратегію на 2020-2024 роки [Experts call for adoption of Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2020-2024 as soon as possible],” Reanimation Package of Reforms (blog), October 12, 2020, https://rpr.org.ua/news/eksperty-zaklykaly-iaknayshvydche-ukhvalyty-ant….
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Global Freedom Score61 100 partly free
Internet Freedom Score59 100 partly free