Chairman of the CVU Aleksey Koshel: 70% of financing and property of parties are shadow funds

Chairman of the CVU Aleksey Koshel: 70% of financing and property of the parties – shadow funds

Every day, the website of the Ministry of Justice publishes news about the banning of another pro-Russian party. Clearing the political landscape of Kremlin-aligned or Belokamennaya-funded political forces is supposed to enhance the country's national security. Is it true? How long will it take to clear Ukrainian politics and public life from the dominance of pro-Russian political and public organizations? How is the business of registering parties done in Ukraine? Chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine Oleksiy Koshel answered these and other questions in an interview with KP in Ukraine.

The “dead” parties should also be banned

– Oleksiy, the Ministry of Justice reported that in Ukraine, the activities of 10 pro-Russian parties have already been banned by court order, the ban of seven more is in the process. Do you think such bans will really help clear the country's political field of pro-Russian forces?

– It is too early to talk about the ban on pro-Russian parties as a fait accompli. Unfortunately, the process of banning them is longer than it seems. So far, we have court decisions that will be appealed by representatives of individual parties. Several party leaders have already announced their intention to go to the Supreme Court. In particular, Shariy said that he would continue the judicial red tape.

And in order to clear the country's political field, I think it is necessary to ban “dead structures” – parties that have not been active for many years.

And this is quite natural. Shariy needs a scandal with the ban on the party, so that later he can speculate on statements about the transfer of criminal cases against him to the political plane.

And let's pay attention to another important nuance: now we are witnessing the process of banning pro-Russian parties that have shown at least some signs of political life. And in order to cleanse the country's political field, I think it is necessary to ban “dead structures” – parties that have not been active for many years.

A simple example. To date, the register of the Ministry of Justice has a party called United Russia. This political force was previously called Putin's Policy Party, funded by Kremlin money and used by the FSB propaganda machine. In 2006, Putin's ex-party of politics participated in the parliamentary elections. Received a catastrophically low result – only 0.13%. (A few days after our conversation, on June 24, the Eighth Administrative Court of Appeal in Lviv banned the pro-Russian party “United Russia”, it is also “Putin's Policy Party”, – Ed.)

– And what is the risk from the existence of “dead” parties?

– Occupants in the temporarily occupied territories on the basis of these parties can create various councils, pseudo-structures in order to legitimize their presence in Ukraine in the eyes of Russian TV viewers.

– You said that the process of banning pro-Russian parties may be delayed. What time frame are we talking about – a month, a year or years?

– I think it will take no more than two months.

– Trials to ban political parties are held behind closed doors. The official reason is quarantine restrictions. Politicians are already pointing out that this is a violation of rights. Is there a risk that they will then turn to the ECtHR and this closed trial will cost Ukraine's budget dearly?

– The risks are minimal. The ECtHR will be on the Ukrainian side.

The closed format of the courts is quite correct and justified. The trial cannot be allowed to be used for Russian propaganda. In times of war, we must think not only about the rights of people, but also, first of all, take care of the security factor.

Financial statements show that pro-Russian parties are poor

– The property of banned parties should go to the state. What kind of property are we talking about and can it be measured in monetary terms? For example, what can the state get away from the same HLE?

– If we look at the financial statements of pro-Russian parties, they look like beggars. That is, they have very little property: offices for rent, cars – in private ownership. We are talking about a small amount of property.

If we look at the financial statements of the pro-Russian parties, they look like beggars. That is, they have very, very little property.

The Committee of Voters conducted a lot of research on the financing and property of parties, and the conclusions are disappointing – 70% of shadow funds. If you look at the financial statements of the party, it turned out that only one employee per 300 sq. m office. Salaries and other payments were in envelopes.

– Public organizations, various “youth teams”, women's wings of the party were created under many political parties. Should these NGOs be banned automatically as well?

– Yes, of course, public organizations should also be audited. I would single out two categories of public organizations that need to be checked and then banned. The first is party public organizations. As you rightly noted, these are youth, women's NGOs, which often had an identical name with the party, party funds, centers, etc.

The second category is pro-Russian public organizations that have nothing to do with parties, but are funded from the Russian Federation. There are several dozen such organizations. Today we have NGOs that were financed from the Russkiy Mir Foundation. This fund was created by Putin's decree and is de facto a structural unit of the FSB.

It is important to clear the political field of any manifestations of the “Russian world”. Also, the next step should be the adoption of a government bill amending the law on the status of deputies of local councils. The document provides that if the party is banned by the court, then there is a basis for depriving the mandate of deputies of local councils elected from this political force.

For some reason, the National Security and Defense Council forgot about the Party of Regions

– Let's imagine that today the Supreme Court bans a certain political party, and tomorrow the leaders of this political force submit documents to the Ministry of Justice for registration of a new political force. So maybe?

– Fully. The likelihood of such a development of events is very high. I am sure that we will see the revival of pro-Russian parties in a softer format. We observed this even in the example of Nazi Germany. The Nazi Party was banned in 1945, and 15 years later neo-Nazi parties emerged that still exist today. Representatives of some of these parties are even represented in local parliaments. And now they are supporting Putin's policies.

Today we have NGOs that were financed from the Russkiy Mir Foundation. This fund was created by Putin's decree and is de facto a structural subdivision of the FSB.

I do not rule out that there will be an attempt to restore the HLE. We see that two deputy groups have been created on the remains of the Opposition Platform for Life, which in the future will develop into political forces with such names.

I think there will be an attempt to create a classical left party. It is possible to predict movements to create parties under neutral names in order to attract the votes of employees of enterprises owned by big business. A party may appear in defense of “traditional” Orthodoxy, that is, Russian Orthodoxy.

It is impossible to say for sure that after the ban these parties will die. At one time, we could not imagine that the Party of Regions would be revived, and it would get a fairly high result in the elections.

– Does the Party of Regions still exist?

– Yes. It exists formally – it is in the state register of parties. And for some reason, the decision of the National Security and Defense Council forgot about the Party of Regions. But I think we will see her banned.

Of the 350 registered parties, only 70 are active

– To date, more than 350 political parties are officially registered in Ukraine. Why so much? Why register a party if there is no goal to develop it?

In Ukraine, the creation of parties has been turned into a business. Previously, on the black market, you could buy a certificate, a seal, and a party charter for $50,000.

– Often the goal of creating a party is not coming to power. In Ukraine, the creation of parties has been turned into a business. During the election period, we observe trade in members of election commissions (a party registers its representatives as members of election commissions in presidential, parliamentary, local elections, and then de facto sells its quota to another political force).

Such a mechanism for practice creates the prerequisites for various manipulations with the will of citizens. – Auth.). Often the parties are simply sold. Previously, on the black market, you could buy a certificate, seal and party charter for 50 thousand dollars.

– Why buy a party if you can register your own?

– For many politicians, it is cheaper and easier to buy an existing party and then rename it than to register your own. You can buy in a matter of hours, registration will take longer.

– How many of the existing parties really show any active signs of life?

– CVU conducted several studies on this topic, we analyzed the activity of parties, the presence of Internet resources, FB pages, holding actions, participating in elections, and it turned out that about 70-80% of parties are “dead structures”. There are less than 70 really working parties.

– What should be changed in the legislation in order not to produce parties, but to register really only effective structures?

– A number of fuses should be added. In my opinion, it is not worth registering political parties that are tied exclusively to one city. Such “tame” parties are beneficial to the mayors of small towns, but they pose a threat to national security. For example, the “Saldo party”, which has never gone beyond the Kherson region, is banned.

All of them (regional parties. – Author) have formally registered cells in different regions of the country, but actually work within a small town. I think that such political forces should be obliged at the legislative level to nominate candidates for deputies in most districts and regions of Ukraine. Elections have passed, but the party did not take part in them – registration is canceled. Then the owners of such parties will begin to count money and understand that maintaining a city party is incredibly expensive and difficult.

I also think that it should be forbidden to use belonging to a national or religious minority in the name of a party. Otherwise, in practice, prerequisites for political speculation will arise: if someone is an opponent of the Party of Hungarians of Ukraine, then this may appear in the information plane as opposing the entire Hungarian community. The same applies to the Roma Party or the Muslim Party of Ukraine.

I am convinced that politicians who are now abroad or are active from their private hiding places have already been excluded from the political life of the country by the voter.

– How did the war change the party demands of Ukrainians?

– The war changed the Ukrainian voter. I hope that Ukrainians will begin to analyze the actions of political parties more carefully, and not just react to beautiful slogans.

The issue of patriotism has become very relevant. The key questions that the voter will ask the politician, the leader of a particular party: what did you do during the war – did you fight or didn't fight, did you volunteer and how? And so on.

I am convinced that politicians who are now abroad or active from their private hideouts have already been excluded from the political life of the country by the voter. They have no chance of getting their candidates into either the village council or the supreme legislative body.

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