In the wake of Denisova's dismissal: accusations of corruption and protection of oligarchs

In the wake of Denisova's dismissal: accusations of corruption and protection of oligarchs

On the 97th day of Russia's war against Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada made the first significant personnel decision: ahead of schedule Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Lyudmila Denisova was dismissed. 234 deputies expressed no confidence in her. They did not vote for the successor, because the “servants” have not yet decided on a candidate who could enlist the support of the audience.

Meanwhile, KP in Ukraine answered the top 8 questions regarding the position of the Ombudsman in Ukraine.

1. When was this position established?

In Ukraine, the position of the Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada for Human Rights was established in 1998. There is a similar position in more than 100 countries around the world. The very first country in which the “parliamentary ombudsman” was launched was Sweden. In this country, the office of ombudsman was created back in 1809.

2. What does an ombudsman do?

The main mission of the Ombudsman is parliamentary control over the observance of the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Ukrainians. Information about the violation of the rights of citizens can be obtained by the commissioner both from open sources and directly from citizens. The subject of complaints is limitless: from incorrectly calculated pensions, illegal detention, domestic violence, forced vaccination, pressure from collectors, protection of political prisoners, pardon issues to legislative initiatives of deputies that infringe on the rights of oligarchs. In wartime, the Ombudsman also takes care of the victims of the war, in particular, victims of the crimes of the Russian army, protection of the rights of internally displaced persons and refugees, evacuation of civilians from hot spots, assists in resolving issues of the exchange of prisoners.

To oblige someone to stop the ombudsman cannot violate the rights of Ukrainians, but he can apply with relevant requests to any state body of the country and even private structures, as well as negotiate at the international level.

It should be understood that the Ombudsman is a whole institution, and not the work of one person. The Ombudsman has thematic representatives, a secretariat and regional offices.

3. Who can become a Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights?

Only a citizen of Ukraine who is at least 40 years old, has high moral character and has experience in human rights activities can be appointed as an Ombudsman. The candidate must be fluent in the state language at a high level. Another important criterion is to live in Ukraine for the last five years. Part-time employment is unacceptable, that is, he cannot work in state and local government bodies and any enterprises and organizations, be a deputy of any level, and cannot be a member of any party. The Ombudsman is only allowed to combine his work with teaching, research and creative activities.

4. Who appoints and for what period?

The Ombudsman is elected by the Parliament for five years at the suggestion of the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada or a group of deputies in the amount of at least one quarter of the constitutional composition of the Rada, that is, at least 112 deputies. For effective voting, at least 226 votes of people's representatives are needed.

By following the dismissal of Denisova: accusations of corruption and protection of the oligarchs

Nina Karpacheva served as Ombudsman from 1998 to 2012. Photo by Vladislav Musienko/UNIAN

5. Is it possible to dismiss the Ombudsman earlier?

Can. The law on the Ombudsman lists a clear list of conditions when it is possible to initiate the procedure for the early resignation of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada. There are five prerequisites in this list: violation of the oath, violation of the conditions of non-combination, termination of citizenship of Ukraine, for health reasons, if for 4 or more months he cannot perform his duties, for ties with the oligarchs. The presence of such grounds (or at least one of them) must be reported by a specially created investigative commission of the Verkhovna Rada. Then the speaker or a group of people's deputies (at least 112) enter the game and collect signatures for resignation. Voting follows.

Important!In wartime conditions, the procedure for early dismissal is different. The speaker of the Verkhovna Rada or a group of people's deputies can initiate a “no confidence” in the Ombudsman, which triggers the dismissal procedure. Anything can be summed up as reasons for “distrust”.

6. Who in Ukraine took care of the protection of the rights of citizens through the Verkhovna Rada?

In the history of independent Ukraine, there were only three ombudsmen. From 1998 to 2012, this position was held by Nina Karpacheva. Then there was a five-year cadence of Valeria Lutkovskaya. In 2018, Lyudmila Denisova was elected Ombudsman.

7. What claims were previously voiced against Denisova?

A lot of attention to the person of the Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova was riveted after she spoke out against the anti-oligarchic law. In September 2021, Denisova publicly stated that this law violates the rule of law and simply offends good people. In this regard, questions arose whether Denisova would also fight off other bills, the constitutionality of which is also a lot of questions: the law on lustration, on language, on indigenous peoples, on the verification of subsidies, on civil confiscation.

In November last year, people's deputies even registered a draft resolution on the creation of a temporary commission of inquiry to verify possible violations of the oath by Lyudmila Denisova, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada. But they could not create the VSK. There was a vote in January, but the “servants” could not collect the required number of votes. Only 202 parliamentarians voted for the creation of the VSK.

Human rights activists raised the issue of the early resignation of Lyudmila Denisova back in July 2019. Then representatives of the Crimean Human Rights Group in their public statement called on Denisova to resign. The reason is corruption. In a statement, human rights activists said that on July 26, 2019, NABU, together with the Office of Special Investigations of the GPU, released recordings of conversations of the chairman of the Kyiv District Administrative Court Pavel Vovk, indicating that the Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova used her position in her own interests related to the NACP protocols. We are talking about the appointment of a competition for the position of a member of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQJC) from the representative of the Rada for the sake of third parties.

And earlier, the NACP also revealed false information in the declarations of the ex-people's deputy, authorized by the Verkhovna Rada for human rights of Lyudmila Denisova for 2015, 2016 and 2017. Denisova challenged the NAPC protocols in court.

In the wake of Denisova's dismissal: accusations of corruption and protection of oligarchs

Valeria Lutkovskaya held the position for five years. Photo by Mikhail Koifman/UNIAN

8. Were previous ombudsmen involved in scandals?

For 14 years of her human rights activities as Ombudsman, Nina Karpacheva has not demonstrated any special achievements. Many human rights activists complained about her and her apparatus for the fact that they were engaged in “replies” – painted Ukrainians' complaints about those state institutions that they complained about. In 2011, she insulted the protesters of the “Chernobyl victims”, showing them the middle finger, instead of listening to their problems, helping. In 2012, the first Ombudsman in the history of Ukraine, Nina Karpachova, became a defendant in a criminal case. And all because of the photographs of Yulia Tymoshenko with bruises published by her. The Ombudsman made public the facts of the alleged beating of the leader of the “Batkivshchyna” in the colony. After that, Karpacheva was forced to emigrate from Ukraine.

The second Ukrainian Ombudsman, Valeria Lutkovska, was remembered for trying to ignore the topics of political persecution in Ukraine. So, in 2012, on the air of Channel 5, Lutkovskaya noted that she did not see signs of political persecution in the criminal case of Yulia Tymoshenko. She refused to meet her daughter Tymoshenko. There was similar rhetoric in the case of ex-Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko. In an interview with Radio Liberty in 2012, Lutkovskaya, commenting on the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which declared the arrest of former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko illegal, noted that this problem is not relevant.


In the footsteps of Denisova's dismissal : accusations of corruption and protection of oligarchs

Vladimir Tsibulko: Authorities are preparing for early elections

– The dismissal of Lyudmila Denisova can be regarded as an element of the authorities' scenario for preparing for early parliamentary elections. In this position, they need “their” person. Denisova was not like that. In 2018, she was elected according to the quota of the “People's Front”, previously she was an ally of Yulia Tymoshenko and is still close to the “Batkivshchyna”. By sacking Denisova, Zelenskiy's team is playing against Tymoshenko's potential rating increase.

The position of the ombudsman in the conditions of war is quite influential, media. This person will go public and talk about the achievements of the authorities in creating humanitarian corridors, about the exchange of prisoners, investigations of war crimes, and protection of victims of the war. That is, a person in this position can work for the rating of the pro-presidential team, and not delay the glory towards another political force.

Following Denisova's dismissal: accusations of corruption and protection of oligarchs

FB of Alexei Yakubin

Alexei Yakubin: This is the result of Denisova's shortcomings

– I would not look for politics and some undercover games in the reasons for the dismissal of Lyudmila Denisova. The main motive for early resignation is the insufficiently good work of the Ombudsman in the conditions of war.

The Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights has a large toolkit for active work. But during these three months of the war, I personally did not see Denisova’s large-scale human rights campaign: appeals to international institutions and international leaders, to my colleagues abroad with a call to help Ukraine organize humanitarian corridors, exchange prisoners, investigate war crimes, etc. Was there any cooperation between the Ombudsman and law enforcement agencies? The question is open.

I think that within a week the people's deputies will be able to elect a successor to Lyudmila Denisova. And this person will be more public and with a good legal background, established contacts with international human rights organizations and structures. ​

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