As pressure builds on President Petro Poroshenko’s government to take a stronger line on tackling corruption, US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch said Ukraine should fire its special anti-corruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytsky.
In unusually blunt criticism coming less than a month before Ukraine’s presidential elections, Yovanovitch said the government’s efforts have “not yet resulted in the anti-corruption or rule of law reforms that Ukrainians expect or deserve,” the Associated Press reported.
“Nobody who has been recorded coaching suspects on how to avoid corruption charges can be trusted to prosecute those very same cases,” she said, referring to recent wiretaps that allegedly caught on tape Kholodnytsky giving advice to corruption suspects.
In late February, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court struck down a law against officials enriching themselves, raising worries that the government was condoning wrongdoing and not serious about rooting out corruption.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau issued a statement saying it had shut down 65 criminal inquiries it the wake of the ruling. Cases closed include a high profile one involving the Mayor of Odessa.
Speaking to media in Ukraine, Kholodnytsky refused to comment on what he called “interference into another country’s internal affairs”. In July 2018, the country’s Disciplinary Commission for the Qualification of Prosecutors rejected a request by the Prosecutor-General’s Office to fire Kholodnytsky and ruled only to reprimand him.
Corruption among Ukraine’s elite continues to be a pressing problem. Ukrainian media recently published an investigation into alleged embezzlement schemes in the country’s military industry. The report alleged that members of President Poroshenko’s inner circle were involved in smuggling military equipment from Russia.