Constitutional crisis: Venice Commission offers Zelensky assistance

Constitutional crisis: Venice Commission offers Zelensky assistance

Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio has offered Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the Commission's expertise on overcoming the constitutional crisis in Ukraine, the presidential press service has reported.

According to the report, this issue was discussed during a phone call between Zelensky and Buquicchio.

The parties focused on the constitutional crisis in Ukraine caused by the decision of the Constitutional Court of October 27, which effectively "nullified" the entire anti-corruption system that the country has built in recent years with the support of the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission, the report said.

Zelensky noted that as the head of state he could not allow a situation when the Constitutional Court makes illegal decisions that destroy the system of anti-corruption bodies, including the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) and the High Anti-Corruption Court. He also said that his priority now was to preserve the continuous functioning of the NACP and anti-corruption bodies and increase the efficiency of their work.

"Gianni Buquicchio offered the expertise of the Venice Commission in this difficult situation. He also stressed that in no case can such important issues as the existence of the High Anti-Corruption Court, the activities of the Deposit Guarantee Fund, and land reform be put at risk," the report reads.

Buquicchio noted that the common goal today is to renew confidence in the judiciary and especially in the Constitutional Court.

Zelensky invited the Venice Commission to work together on broad judicial reform.

Zelensky thanked Buquicchio for fruitful cooperation. In particular, the Venice Commission prepared more than 150 opinions and expert assessments on bills and laws of Ukraine on justice, the High Anti-Corruption Court, etc.

On October 27, the Constitutional Court repealed Article 366-1 of the Criminal Code on penalties for lies in asset declarations and some provisions of the law "On Corruption Prevention" on the basis of a petition filed by 47 MPs from the Opposition Platform - For Life faction and the For the Future group. In particular, the Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional the NACP's powers to verify officials' asset declarations, monitor the lifestyle of those who submit asset declarations, establish the timeliness of submission of asset declarations, as well as provisions on open access to declarations in the unified state register.

In connection with the decision of the Constitutional Court, President Volodymyr Zelensky held a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council on October 29 to determine measures for the state's immediate response to new threats and challenges to national security and defense. The decision was made at the meeting to reopen public access to the unified state register of asset declarations, to ensure the holding of special verifications by the NACP, and to oblige state bodies and local self-government bodies to grant the NACP access to registers and databases.

In addition, Zelensky tabled in the Verkhovna Rada his bill "On Renewal of Public Confidence in Constitutional Judiciary" (No. 4288), which proposes to terminate the powers of the current composition of the Constitutional Court.

The bill also proposes to recognize that the Constitutional Court ruling of October 27 is null and void (not creating any legal consequences) as it was adopted by the judges of the Constitutional Court amid a real conflict of interest.

On November 2, Verkhovna Rada Speaker Dmytro Razumkov said the parliament planned to resume the electronic declaration of income and assets through the adoption of a new law.

On the evening of November 2, a group of MPs from several factions led by Razumkov registered bill No. 4304 "On Resuming the Effect of Certain Provisions of the Law of Ukraine on Corruption Prevention and the Criminal Code of Ukraine." The document provides for the introduction of amendments to the law "On Corruption Prevention," which proposes to restore the NACP's rights. In particular, it is proposed that the NACP be granted the right to receive information, including confidential information, from state bodies, the authorities of Crimea, local government agencies, businesses regardless of the form of ownership and their officials, citizens and their associations, in the manner prescribed by law, on the basis of written requests.

At the same time, taking into account the legal position of the Constitutional Court, it is proposed to instruct the government to draw up a bill on the peculiarities of the legal and organizational framework of the anti-corruption system for judges, as well as the mechanism for bringing them to justice.


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