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Authors: Parliamentary Ethics Code could solve the problem of distrust of MPs

Kyiv, February 03, 2017.

Citizens’ trust in Ukrainian Parliament is extremely low. According to the latest survey of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS), it is ranking even below the level of trust in the Russian media. The problem could be solved by Parliamentary Ethics Code, which would regulate ethical dilemmas of MPs: conflict of interests, lobbying, communication with voters, behavior in the session hall, etc. This was stated by Svitlana Matvienko, Chairman of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives, at a briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Ethics Code is not just behavior in the session hall. It is a much wider aspect of problems, like the issue of employment after the term, the law on lobbying, the way conflict of interests coincides with fixed cases, etc.,” she noted.

Voters tend to pay attention to how a MP behaves and do not focus on less obvious things. “People take notice of obvious external things: brawls, playing hooky, lack of quorum in committees, neglect of personal voting. But a more scrupulous approach to the formation of parliamentarism requires responsibility and accountability of MPs,” said Ihor Kohut, director of USAID “RADA.”

The Ethics Code may act as a preventive mechanism in case of misconduct of a MP. “Many problems can be solved before NABU. The Ethics Code may contribute to the settlement of competing interests. We should investigate all these situations, but more important, prevent them because the law enforcement agencies are overworked, and we have no well-functioning judicial system. So, it is better to stop this at the level of parliament, to monitor and prevent,” noted Sergiy Leschenko, MP.

According to Ostap Yednak, MP of Ukraine (independent), only 20 MPs are currently involved in the process. However, it is just the dialogue with parliamentarians which is fundamental to its success. “It is just the dialogue that makes it possible to work out a common ground on the document. The code covers issues that cannot be called clearly legal or illegal. It is the so-called “gray zone.” But it provides standards on addressing the issues that are not covered by the law,” informed Ms. Ryabiko, coordinator of OSCE and Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights project “Strengthening the dialogue between the civil society and key governmental agencies and institutions in Ukraine in the field of human resources.”

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