Serhiy Leshchenko: Parliament should pass law No. 1591 to keep the openness of Parliament


Kyiv, July 13, 2016.  The Ukrainian Parliament today is much more open than it was. However, the decision on such openness was made by its speaker, and when it changes, all achievements might be negated. To prevent this, The Parliament should pass the relevant law. This was stated by Serhiy Leshchenko, MP, during a briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “It is necessary to adopt law No.1591, which provides openness and access to information about the activity of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Currently, deputies have defeated it. They pleaded their  reluctance to disclose personal data as a reason for not adopting it. However, personal data remains closed, only their financial details should be disclosed,” noted Serhiy Leshchenko. He stressed that the Parliament openness is part of the anti-corruption reform.

Nataliya Vatamanyuk, Open Parliament initiative coordinator, informed that since February 5, 2016, Ukraine is a party to the Declaration on Parliamentary Openness. Oleksiy Sidorenko, Head of e-systems department at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, noted that currently, declarations of MPs, data on their assistants and public offices, as well as on all legislative activity of deputies are publicly available and promptly updated. According to him, the Open Data Portal of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and internal e-communication are in preparation. Oleksiy Sidorenko informed that in October it is planned to launch a new platform for public discussion of draft laws. “This decision will allow each expert, public organization and voter to initiate and discuss every registered draft law. They will also be able to submit their amendments and comments to the specialized committee and to track whether their proposals are accepted and considered by the Committee,” explained Mr. Sidorenko.

Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, executive director of Transparency International Ukraine, focused on the importance of the Parliamentary Ethics Code, which could help to address conflicts of interests. “We have the facts of undisguised black lobbying. The Code can solve this problem in advance. There is a European practice, when the deputy states that he cannot take any initiatives because he is connected with these initiatives through his business or family. Then the key latifundists will not be able to affect the country’s agricultural policy, and those who control the media groups will not be able to shape policy in the mass media,” believes Mr. Yurchyshyn.

According to Oleksandr Klyuzhev, analyst at NGO OPORA, the deputies themselves are not sufficiently included in the process of implementation and promotion of parliamentary openness. Most of them ignore it. “We are conducting workshops and educational activities to make the tools of such openness easy-to-use,” he noted. Mr. Klyuzhev also mentioned RADA portal, which performs analytical assessment of the Parliament work, and They vote for you website, where one can see how deputies and factions are voting.

Pavlo Mironov, analyst at NGO CHESNO, noted that the public reacts strongly to the unsatisfactory work of the Parliament. That is why there is a risk that the current openness can lead to the Parliament putting up its walls again instead of its effectiveness improvement.

Tetyana Semiletko, development director and lawyer at the Institute of Media Law, emphasized that current communication between the press service and IT Department and the public has not been established yet. “However it is good that there is an understanding of the need to have the modern equipped press center for journalists. Media should be a platform for communication with the public rather than for propaganda or getting across political ideas and beliefs to them,” believes Ms. Semiletko. She also stressed that communication must reach strategic level. Not only tactical events in the Parliament and regulations, but also its policy should be communicated to the public.