Kharkiv Activists: Civil Society Must Stay Engaged For Lustration


Kyiv, August 8, 2014. The involvement of civil society in the lustration of corrupt officials remains important for the future of Ukraine. Local communities play the most important role in this process, and must demand better from their government officials and keep the government publicly accountable. This was said by Yegor Sobolev, Dmytro Kutovyi, and Oleksandr Chumak during their press briefing at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The necessary changes from Ukraine cannot come from the top, from the political authorities, but must instead come from the bottom through engaged private citizens, reiterated the activists.

In Kharkiv, there are several civic organizations that are involved in the lustration of public officials who are accused of corruption and other crimes. For example, the Kharkiv Lustration Committee will decide whether people in local positions of power should be subject to lustration for their past actions. Civic organizations in Kharkiv must also play an important role in leading public discussions about the appointment of new people to positions of power, and should recommend specific candidates to these positions.

Ukrainian authorities in Kharkiv and the central government have so far been unreceptive to private initiatives and recommendations, said Oleksandr Chumak, the head of the Association of Private Employers in Kharkiv. For a while, there was no head of the tax service for the Kharkiv region. Civic organizations recommended a specific candidate based on interviews, but these initiatives were ignored by the Ukrainian government.   Yanukovych is gone, but the people that supported him in the security services, the police, and local authorities, and in the bureaucracy are still in power. “We need to declare “jihad” against corruption,” said one of the speakers. Local communities must demand a new way of conducting the government.

The activists noted that they are hopeful that the Ukrainian government will take the lustration process seriously. Every political faction in the Ukrainian government supports lustration and has promised to take action on the matter. The activists hope that Ukraine can follow the examples of other post-communist states, specifically Czech Republic, Georgia, and East Germany when it comes to removing ex-communists and corrupt officials from power. The activists stressed that many of the people responsible for human rights abuses on Maidan are still in positions of power. They believe that anyone who ordered abuses during Maidan, past leaders of communist organizations, former KGB agents, anybody who supports the separatists and public officials who are unable to explain the sources of their property should be deprived of public office and roles in the government.

Although the activists are confident that the Ukrainian parliament will finally pass a law on lustration, they believe that the law will only be implemented if private citizens are active in civil society. Yegor Sobolev, the head of Lustration Committee, says that the authorities will do everything possible to prevent their lustration. “We are prepared for different options” in order to prevent this, he said. The activists call upon everyone who is able to come to the Ukrainian parliament at 14:00 on Saturday, August 9, to demand that the parliament pass a law on purging the authorities, concluded Chumak.