Persecution of anti-corruption activists must stop in Ukraine

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

Following an escalation of attacks, Transparency International and its chapter in Ukraine are calling on the authorities to protect civil society from the abuse, including physical beatings, that activists are facing.

During the past few months, two anti-corruption activists from the city of Kharkiv that work on investigations with Transparency International Ukraine were beaten; they believe this was linked to their work. Similar reports were sent from activists in Poltava and Odessa as well as investigative journalists in Kiev.

Transparency International Ukraine has also been the target of a smear campaign because of its work advocating for the recovery of assets allegedly stolen by former president Viktor Yanukovych. In addition, civil society organisations have been subjected to illegal inspections and law suits.

“This continued attack on civil society is as unexpected as it is unwarranted. The citizens of Ukraine have paid a high price for the chance to rid their country of corruption. They took to the streets to protest corruption and many were killed. The authorities must take measures to protect anti-corruption activists and support their fight against corruption,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International.

“Ukrainian activists who were driving anti-corruption reform in Ukraine following the Revolution of Dignity have now ended up under threat,” said Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, executive director of Transparency International Ukraine. “This is a blatant attempt to stop us from exposing top-level corrupt public officials. But it won’t work. We will fight for anti-corruption institutions that are fit for purpose, including an independent and effective anti-corruption court.”

Civil society organisations are also being made to fill out cumbersome e-declarations that make it difficult to operate and increase the potential for pressure from the authorities, despite calls to end this system, and despite promises that this would be changed.

“The President of Ukraine and parliament have not abolished the regulations that will expose anti-corruption activists to further abuse. This should happen immediately to show that there is good will to support citizens and civil society in the fight against corruption,” added Ferreira Rubio. 

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