August 2023 | Wartime crackdown on corruption widens
The Ukrainian government has intensified its wartime crackdown on corruption and prosecution of suspected collaborators. On 11 August President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced the dismissal of all heads of regional military recruitment centers following a “comprehensive inspection” intended to root out corruption and bribery announced the month before. Further ambitious anti-corruption moves in recent months include the reopening of the “Rotterdam+” energy sector corruption case and continued efforts to investigate corruption among high-ranking civil servants. However, some civil society actors have raised concerns that some reforms, such as restructuring the Constitutional Court, instead primarily concentrate power in the presidency.
May 2023 | Possible anti-collaboration law sparks debate
Conflicting statements by senior government ministers on whether Ukrainians in Russian-occupied territory should accede to efforts to force them to accept Russian passports has heightened debate about legal punishment of collaboration with occupying authorities. The Verkhovna Rada has been considering a bill outlawing collaboration since March 2022, and to date 5,550 individuals have been investigated on charges related to collaboration, resulting in 272 convictions and zero acquittals. Human rights advocates argue the term remains legally undefined, and that the line between activities that constitute active collaboration and those that are necessary for surviving the occupation is difficult to clearly define. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians in occupied Ukraine could be found guilty of collaboration under statutes as they are currently being interpreted by courts, and human rights advocates and lawyers have suggested alternative approaches, such as amnesty.
February 2023 | EU officials share ILO and trade union concern over labour reforms
An investigation by openDemocracy revealed EU officials have been privately sharing concerns over Ukraine’s ongoing labour law reforms that mirror those raised by domestic and international trade unions, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and labour rights activists. Critics of the reform process say it runs against the ILO ‘social dialogue’ and EU’s ‘social market economy’ systems, with the Council of Europe noting reforms to date have “mostly resulted in the deterioration of employment conditions.” The Ukrainian government maintains the reforms are necessary as the country’s current labour laws date to the Soviet era. As the reforms are taking place under martial law, domestic trade unions and activists have been unable to repeat the large scale protests that forced parliament to drop the same reform process in 2020.
January 2023 | Corruption investigation prompts government reshuffle
A journalistic investigation revealed the Ukrainian military was paying inflated prices for food, breaking what the Financial Times called 'a taboo on criticising the government during wartime'. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by firing and forcing the resignation of several high-ranking civil servants, governors, state ministers, and members of parliament involved or suspected of involvement in this and other corruption or embezzlement schemes. Ukrainian prosecutors and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau launched numerous investigations. International and domestic observers say Ukraine has made significant anti-corruption reforms in recent years, but that the scandals show that much work remains to be done.