21.11.2014 | By Rustem Khalilov

Why does every regime make statements about the need to combat corruption, but the number of high-profile cases of abuse of public office is not increasing? Senior Partner at the Attorneys United Law Firm Oleksandr Zarutskiy is convinced that Ukrainian laws are provide a workable framework for an effective fight against corruption. The core of the problem are the fighters

KW: How often corruption cases are brought to court in Ukraine?

O.Z.: Corruption is an integral element of any organized crime group, because corrupt schemes enable development of the organized crime groups. And cases involving organized crime groups have more chances to get to court than simple corruption protocols.

KW: Let us look into the most common case: an official demands a bribe from a businessman. What are the chances that the official will be punished?

O.Z.: The chances are quite high. Crimes in which bribe are demanded directly are quite easy to document. But besides the direct financial benefits there are other options. For example, the official allocated a land plot to an educational institution, which will later accept his/ her child without exams. In such a situation almost impossible to prosecute such official.

In this area, as well as in the drug wars, there are cases of tremendous abuse of power on the part of investigators. The rate of provoked crimes is very high. The Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to a fair trial) is violated universally. Public authorities provoke bribes in order to justify their existence, but, by and large, they create the foundation for their work.

KW: Perhaps, this is due to the difficulty of collection of the evidence base?

O.Z.: Not at all. It is not related to the problems of registration. Moreover that when people see the money, they are not thinking clearly because their grasping reflex is triggered. Usually in Ukraine law enforcers catch those who become non grata or do not wish to share with those who are investigating such crimes.

KW: Speaking of notorious corruption cases, how often are the accused made liable?

O.Z.: I do not dare to answer this question now, because you have to understand: we are at the stage where we run out of the cases under the old Criminal Procedure Code, and new cases are opened under the new code. In the past there was such a procedure as returning the cases for supplementary investigation, cases dragged on for a long time. Today there is no such phenomenon. At the same time the new CPC provides for plea bargains, which also gives an option of lenient sentences.

The whole process changed to worse because earlier investigators had to collect large arrays of documents virtually for all circumstances of cases. Sometimes indictments turned into entire volumes of criminal cases, and today may consist only of four pages describing case facts. Unfortunately, this affects the quality of justice.

As of 2013 in general 1,086 bribery proceedings were filed in Ukraine. The main areas are education, land relations, healthcare and environmental protection. Only 9 of them were judged.

KW: From your experience, what is the outcome for most of them?

O.Z.: As a lawyer I believe that there is no need to confuse the cases of blatant corruption and corruption created artificially. Just two weeks ago, the European Court adopted a decision in which it acknowledged violation of the right to a fair trial of Ukrainian physicians who allegedly received compensation for their actions. The situation was as follows: a police officer came to a hospital in need of come certificate. He invited the physician to find some solution for the matter. As a result, the doctor got the money. Such cases are not uncommon. As a result such popular service receipt of fake sick leave will become more expensive, but the overall situation will not change.

On the other hand, the higher the ranks of officials, the longer the links leading to them: deputies, assistants, some collegial advisory bodies. The more complex the system of government, the more difficult to catch the chiefs. The situation should be changed from the top, not from the bottom. I think when people work in structures where bosses do not take bribes, they are afraid of getting caught by the police not as much as to lose their jobs.

KW: Does this mean that it is easier to fight corruption not with the help of legislation, but with the help of proper recruitment?

O.Z.: The law exists per se. It is more about people.

KW: So, would you say the legal framework is good enough?

O.Z.: It is a popular belief that we have big problems with the law. I do not support such point of view. We have a problem with those who may use the law. Even if we fought not with the corruption protocols, but solely with the bribery cases that would be quite enough. Because the majority of cases is about banal receipt of money.

KW: What is the point of provoking a bribe, if the fact of transfer of money is easily provable, and it is possible to work only with the statements?

O.Z.: From the point of view of law enforcers why not? Especially since you never whom you can get you may provoke and implement your interests.

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