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CORRUPTER IN LAW. WHY ZELENSKY MUST DISMISS SYTNYK JUST NOW

Пятница, 13 Декабря 2019, 16:05
The decision of the Rivne Regional Court of Appeal, which upheld the court of first instance verdict - the NABU Director Artem Sytnik is guilty of a corruption offense - not only allows, but obliges the president to dismiss him
CORRUPTER IN LAW. WHY ZELENSKY MUST DISMISS SYTNYK JUST NOW

Besides, the Verkhovna Rada has every reason to fire Sytnyk.

Today, the Rivne Court of Appeal finally made its decision on Mr Sytnyk's appeal concerning the Sarny court (Rivne region) on his elite rest. Back in September, the trial court found him guilty of having rest at another person's expense at the Polisske-Sarny hunting ground. In 2017-2019 Mr Sytnyk had five vacations there. Each weekend cost about UAH100.000 and was paid for by Mykola Nadeyko, who now is a witness in the case. Meanwhile, Mr Sytnyk did not mention the expenses in his declaration.

Here it is necessary to make a reservation that receiving services for free or at obviously lower cost qualifies as a bribe and has all the signs of a corruption offense, which, in fact, was confirmed by the Sarny court.

It must be said, though, that in the administrative offense reports drawn up against Sytnik, there was no mention of any hundreds of thousands of hryvnias, but for 25 thousand paid for hotel accommodation. Perhaps this is why the NABU director escaped with a symbolic punishment for his misconduct. By the Sarny court verdict Mr Sytnyk is guilty of an administrative offense and has to pay UAH 3400 fine. This sum is ridiculous, and it's not his biggest trouble. But the fact that he will not be able to hold the post anymore due to getting into the register of corrupt officials is.

The law allows firing the NABU Director if there are clearly stated legal reasons for it only. There are eleven such reasons, and most of them, like one's own will, death, serious illness or incapacity are not applicable to Sytnyk. However, one reason is enough for his resignation. And it has appeared today.

Thus, the ground No. 6 on the list set forth in the law "On the National Anti-Corruption Bureau" is the following: "a court conviction becoming final and binding" regarding the NABU director. That is exactly what has happened today. The Sarny court decision could not come into legal fource before the appeal court considered the appeal against it. And after the judge had read out the decision to uphold the verdict, according to the Code of Criminal Procedure, it came into force, regardless of whether the NABU director appeals to the cassation court.

That is not just the reasons appeared for Sytnik's resignation. Now, the president is obliged to fire him, because the law on NABU reads as follows: "The NABU Director is dismissed from the position in the event: ... a court conviction comes into force."

If the court's decision on Sytnik's administrative corruption offense is not interpreted as a "court conviction", then the law on NABU explicitly prohibits the appointment of a person who "has been imposed on an administrative penalty for a corruption offense".

That is, the president, who by law appoints and dismisses the NABU director, is not entitled, but obliged to fire Sytnyk. Zelensky's role in this case is reduced to a purely technical function of formalizing what the court decided.

However, not only Zelensky can do this. If the president for some reason decides not to fulfill his duty, Verkhovna Rada can do it for him. The law gives the parliament such a right, including in the event of the NABU director being found guilty of an offense. To do it, Rada needs to collect at least 150 votes to start the procedure, and then vote by a simple majority, that is, 226 votes are enough. In this case, the president's decision will not be necessary at all.

Thus, one can claim that Mr Sytnyk's tour of duty as the NABU first director has come to an end. And it is a positive point, because apart of the fact of Sytnyk's being guilty of a corruption offense, in four years in office he was not able to make this body truly independent and effective. None of the high-profile cases investigated by the Bureau has ever led to guilty verdicts, but political scandals surrounding the NABU were more than enough. Hopefully, the next country's main anti-corruption body director will be more honest and competent.

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