Kyiv, October 1, 2015. Draft changes in legislation, which would render arbitrary actions of law-enforcement agencies during investigative procedures impossible, will be ready in a month. This declaration was made by representatives of the NGO EasyBusiness at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in the framework of the project ‘Ukraine Media Center of Reforms’. The social initiative EasyBusiness unites experts on issues of deregulation that sprang up as a social response to multiple violations by investigative agencies against IT companies. First of all the violations included seizure of data storage technologies and blocking of companies’ activities.
On April 7, 2015 the Law of Ukraine «On bringing changes to some legislative statutes of Ukraine concerning business environment simplification (deregulation) became valid. Among other things the Law regulates the issues of law-enforcement agencies’ actions during investigations (by way of introducing changes to the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine). In particular, the Law stipulates that seizure of equipment is only allowed by a court’s decree, which should provide an exhaustive list of equipment that is to be seized. If the investigation needs information from a server, it should be provided as copied data. However, courts are neglecting this stipulation of the Law, as the representatives of EasyBusiness and businesses claim, and avoiding being precise in their decisions, which opens the way for abuse by investigators. “We see a person on the other side of the barricades who is not ready to treat the situation sensibly, but rather uses all the opportunities for manipulation and pressure on business, which makes such business operations in Ukraine almost impossible,” comments Artem Rafaelyan, project manager of EasyBusiness.
Hence, the experts suggested a solution for this issue. “It is necessary to create additional barriers at the legal level, which will prevent arbitrary usage by law-enforcement officers of steps such as search and seizure of tangible assets. We [EasyBusiness] agree to prepare such a law on bringing changes into the Criminal Procedure Code concerning data storage search and seizure. We already have a draft. For a month we will have consultations with experts in order to take all nuances and possible consequences into account. After that we will be ready to present our work. Then the matter will depend on the legislators,” pointed out Artem Afanyan, partner of JSC “Yuskutum”.
Before the changes to legislation, initiated by EasyBusiness, are taken into account, businesspeople should fight for their rights. This is the advice given to entrepreneurs by Andriy Khvetkevych, founder of ‘nic.ua’, whose company is suffering due to the reasons mentioned here, and who decided to move his business to Poland because of these issues. “Of course, IT company owners are transferring their businesses abroad. But if investigators came to you, do not hide. Give no bribes, but instead make the issue of what happens to you public. If we do nothing about it, nothing will ever change,” summarized the businessman.