A chain of unprecedented decisions:
1. The people of Ukraine elected a new parliament. The parliament in no time had passed the package of the anti-corruption bills developed under recommendations of international organizations. To some extent, they are truly a revolution.
2. The U.S., the EU, Canada, and all our allies say creation of the new anticorruption system is a required prerequisite for cooperation with Ukraine. They control the process and support it. Without this firm stance nothing would have happened, although all decisions have been made by Ukrainians.
3. The president, the government, and the parliament formed public committees that have elected independent leadership for the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP). As a member of the commission that selected the NABU head, I confirm there had been no pressure upon the member voting, the voting was independent, and the presidential administration was only providing assistance.
4. Taxpayers finance creation of the new government bodies; all employees for the new anticorruption agencies are selected through contests; decent working conditions have been created.
5. The prime minister and the Naftohaz head made a decision to replace the corrupt management of Ukrhazvydobuvannia SE and hold a contest to select professional and independent leadership.
6. The new leadership of Ukrhazvydobuvannia, for the first time ever, held a professional audit that uncovered massive abuses. Information on them was passed to law enforcement agencies and the parliament.
7. A group of MPs asked NABU to assess activities of Onyshchenko’s companies from legal point of view based on the audit results.
8. The NABU and SAP initiate and launch a broad investigation. They found that three firms belonging to Onyshchenko caused damages worth 1.6 billion hryvnia ($59.26 million) to the state via fake auctions. The corrupt scheme was in place for 11 years, and we will never be able to estimate the damages in full. Hundreds of millions dollars have flowed into the pockets of people close to the government.
9. Under a threat of detention, the owner of the corrupt schemes MP Onyshchenko, who is also an owner of intermediary firms and ally of the country’s top officials, fled the country. He launched a series of exposures against Ukrainian leadership, including President Poroshenko, accusing them of involvement into plundering of Ukrhazvydobuvannia. The leadership of SAP and NABU say they are ready to include evidence and recordings of Onyshchenko in the criminal case and question him abroad.
10. Detectives investigating Onyshchenko’s activities found that tax authorities of the Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Poltava regions, as agreed with the SFS (State Fiscal Service — Ed.) head, granted delays for payment of taxes in amount of 2,019 million hryvnia ($74.78 million — Ed.). The firms had been closed, their owner fled — of course, these taxes would never be paid. So in addition to direct damages, Onyshchenko and his cronies in the state authorities have caused another damage of 2 billion hryvnia.
11. Two experts from the Kyiv research institute for forensic expertise of the Justice Ministry have found that these decisions by the SFS leadership had caused damage to the state. This expertise is the basis of the case.
12. NABU and SAP decided to serve indictment to acting head of the SFS Roman Nasirov and other officials from regional offices of the SFS.
13. The head of the SFS is one of the key leaders in the government. He was approved personally by President Petro Poroshenko, appointed to his post within the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (BPP) quota, and used to be a PPB deputy in the parliament. There is a strong suspicion that the president knew of all decisions within the Onyshchenko schemes. As long as the amounts of the fraud are huge, Onyshchenko could have built his influence schemes with the money. However, NABU and SAP leaders say they’ve seen no attempts to affect the case by the president, the prosecutor general, the prime minister, or their cronies. No attempts to change jurisdiction or take the case away from the SAP have been made.
14. After the indictment was served, the country’s leadership showed no signs of protection of Nasirov despite chances that he was not the only one to decide on payment delays, but covered by those on the top of the power. The president and the prime minister said the NABU and SAP are independent bodies. If Onyshchenko’s claims about possessing records of talks with the president on his activities related to the payment delays are true, the list of the involvants in the case might be extended. However, three months after his announcements, Onyshchenko has published nothing.
15. I have no idea what the outcome of the case will be, and how the process will go. I want to say one thing: this case is now possible not due to some turn of events, but thanks to consistent implementation of anticorruption strategy in Ukraine. It’s not just someone’s trick — it is a result of efforts by many people and an outcome of numerous comprehensive solutions.
16. I want to warn against euphoria — the open trial will show whether the new anticorruption bodies will be able to support their position in a free litigation. The damage to the state has been huge, but the guilt and involvement of certain executives, their responsibilities, and possible connections need to be proven.
Ukraine is making its first steps as an independent state. New psychology is being created together with a new decision-making logic. As of now, the most important result of Onyshchenko-Nasirov’s case is uncovering of a long-term scheme that resulted from the feudal and corrupt nature of Ukrainian government. Now, Ukrhazvydobuvannia works without intermediary companies. The budget revenues have increased many-fold. Comprehensive changes in Ukraine are no longer just words. The changes are taking place. Although slowly, but we are building a state that is tearing away from the feudalism, a state that we will be able to trust. Only subsequent efforts will show how long-lasting and sustainable the changes will be. Today, every day is a test.
Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET
Related materials: Trial of Nasirov