Ukraine’s parliament reinstated a requirement obliging officials to publicly declare their assets, beefing up a previous version of the bill vetoed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after it drew criticism for being too soft.
(Bloomberg) — Ukraine’s parliament reinstated a requirement obliging officials to publicly declare their assets, beefing up a previous version of the bill vetoed by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after it drew criticism for being too soft.
The long-awaited legislation comes as Zelenskiy’s government steps up an anti-corruption crackdown that has triggered the dismissal of dozens of ministers, lawmakers and other officials, as well as charges against some of Ukraine’s richest businessmen.
The new law, which was backed by 341 lawmakers in the 450-seat legislature, followed Zelenskiy’s rejection of a draft that restored a requirement that public officials file a mandatory electronic declaration of their assets but delayed disclosure of the contents by a year.
That version triggered public outcry, with a petition urging the president to reject it — launched by a wounded soldier recovering in a military hospital — garnering 25,000 signatures in just a few hours.
“We will start looking for those cunning politicians who have enriched themselves during the war,” said Vitaliy Shabunin, the head of the non-governmental Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Action Center. “So, in a few weeks, good hunting to us all.”
To read more: Zelenskiy Vetoes Asset-Disclosure Bill After Anti-Graft Protest
Zelenskiy’s administration has taken a hard line on suspected corruption this year. Earlier this month, he swapped out his defense minister following allegations of graft in the institution under his watch. The issue remains a major concern for allies as they continue to pour weapons and cash into Ukraine to help it beat back Russia’s invasion, retake occupied territory and stabilize the war-ravaged economy.
The new law reinstates online asset declarations adopted by Ukraine in 2016 among conditions set by the European Union for visa-free travel. The tool has been used widely by journalists investigating corruption in a country where graft has been a systemic problem.
Authorities froze access to the data after Russia’s invasion began in February 2022, citing security concerns. While Western donors, including the International Monetary Fund, demanded that the database and declaration submissions be restored, Ukrainian activists and journalists went further in insisting that the registry be opened fully.
Declarations will be publicly available within 60 days after the law takes effect because some declarations of military personnel need to be hidden for security reasons, Shabunin said.
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