May 12, 2021
Today's issue:
- Ongoing selection of new heads for SAPO and BES comes under attempts of political interference;
- Abrupt change of Naftogaz leadership violates anti-corruption legislation;
- Venice Commission adopts two urgent opinions concerning Ukraine; 
- President signs important amendments into procedure of trial in absentia;
- recommended reading
Ongoing selection of new heads for SAPO and BES comes under attempts of political interference

The competition for the position of the head of the SAPO is ongoing. The candidates have already passed a number of important stages, including tests of knowledge of the law and general abilities. According to the tests’ results, there are 37 candidates left in the competition. The following stage to filter the candidates out of the competition is the integrity interview.

There are concerns that some tainted members of the Selection Commission under the Parliamentary quota may attempt to manipulate and falsify the next stages of the competition.
In addition, next week the Parliament plans to fill in its quota in the Competition Commission for the position of head of the newly-established Burea of Economic Security (BES). According to the law, the future Commission should consist of 9 persons (3 persons from the National Security and Defense Council, 3 persons from the Cabinet of Ministers and 3 persons from the Parliament). The quota of the Verkhovna Rada also has its division: 2 persons are pre-selected by the Finance Committee and 1 person is pre-selected by the Law Enforcement Committee. Unfortunately, the MPs did not bother pre-selecting to the Commission good professionals with high public trust. Instead, both Committees selected little-known individuals of doubtful integrity. This questions transparency and integrity of the entire competition for the BES head.
Abrupt change of Naftogaz leadership violates anti-corruption legislation
The Anti-corruption Action Centre appealed to the National Agency on Corruption Prevention demanding the assessment of the appointment of Yuriy Vitrenko as a new CEO of Naftogaz. According to the anti-corruption legislation, Vitrenko had to abstain from work in the energy companies for a year after resigning from the position of acting Minister of Energy. Subsequently, his contract should be terminated.
Venice Commission adopts two urgent opinions concerning Ukraine
On May 5, the Venice Commission released urgent opinion on draft law No.5068 on the reform of the High Council of Justice (HCJ). The Commission supports the concept of the draft law, however, it insists on the decisive role of the international experts in the process of assessment and selection of the HCJ members (see our full analysis).
On May 6, the Commission released urgent opinion on presidential draft law No.4651 on strengthening responsibility for false declaration of assets, which was approved by the Parliament in the first reading on April 15. The Commission supports the reinstatement of imprisonment as one of the sanctions for false declarations and suggests repeated submission of declarations for 2020, so these stricter sanctions can be applied.
President signs important amendments into procedure of trial in absentia
On May 11, President Zelenskyi signed draft law No. 2164 aimed at improving the procedure of trial in absentia. The law will ease the prosecution of the perpetrators who fled to Russia or occupied territories and hide from justice there. Investigators will no longer need to prove that a person is wanted by Interpol, the evidence of stay in Russia or occupied territories is sufficient for the court.
First and foremost the law will facilitate the investigations of Maidan cases and corruption cases committed by Yanukovych and his associates. The MPs have refused to extend the new rules to the instances when suspects are hiding in countries other than Russia.
Recommended Reading 
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