Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin believes that the EU will not revoke its visa-free regime with Ukraine in light of the Constitutional Court’s recent controversial decision to declare the “illegal enrichment” article of the Criminal Code unconstitutional.
“The telephone is ringing non-stop with phone calls asking: ‘What’s going to happen to the visa-free scheme in light of the Constitutional Court’s high profile decision?’ Let’s try to calm down. I am confident that the EU will not punish millions of Ukrainian citizens for this decision. At the end of the day, it is the Ukrainians who are suffering due to corruption and corrupt schemes,” Klimkin observed.
He emphasized that fighting corruption is not just a process, but a result and part of Ukraine’s obligations towards its western partners.
“The tragedy of the situation is actually that the fight against corruption is critically necessary for us ourselves. At the same time, it is really part of our obligations towards our friends and partners, also with respect to the visa-free scheme. And I think that the obligations exist in order to be fulfilled. In relations between partners, two things must necessarily exist: trust and consistency. That is why we urgently need to find a rock-solid legal solution that will once and for all resolve all the issues. And not only looking forward, but also to prevent all of the anti-corruption work that has been done over recent years from coming to nothing,” the foreign minister said.
“Otherwise there will be a serious crisis of trust in relations with our friends and partners. And it is not just the visa-free regime on the line, but the support for Ukraine. We have no right to let down those who trust us, and – most importantly – ourselves,” he added.
On 26 February, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine declared the Criminal Code’s article on “illegal enrichment” unconstitutional due to its incorrect formulation. The article defined illegal enrichment as “ the acquisition by a person authorized to carry out functions of state or local self-governance of a significant quantity of assets, where the legitimacy of the acquisition is not confirmed by evidence, as well as the transfer of such assets to any other person”.
The constitutional judges ruled that the wording of the article is inconsistent with the constitutional principle of the presumption of innocence (parts 1-3 article 62) and the constitutional provision on the inadmissibility of prosecuting a person for refusing to give evidence or explanations with respect to themselves, their family members or close relatives (part 1 article 63).
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko subsequently drafted a bill with alternative wording.
Article 368-2 on illegal enrichment was included in Ukraine’s Criminal Code in 2011.