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Seven sins of the Supreme Court candidates

Within its campaign “CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary!”, CHESNO movement has analyzed all the candidates running for offices in the Supreme Court and prepared analytical reports on each of 653 candidates. In the course of analysis, the team of “CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary!” campaign has found information about some of the candidates which raises doubts whether they are fit for the Supreme Court offices.        

Seven sins of the Supreme Court candidates are the criteria helping to make conclusions on the fair practices of the candidates running for the Supreme Court offices. It is fair practice of the would-be judges that is one of the key selection criteria, as in the course of the competition the High Qualification Commission of Judges can give up to 250 points out of the total 1,000 for this criterion.

  1. CORRUPTION

Total corruption at all levels – from appointment and career promotion of judges to issuing rulings in someone’s favor – is one of the major problems of the Ukrainian judicial system. Corruption is also one of the biggest “sins” of many Supreme Court candidates, as the lion’s share of them are incumbent judges and have been working in the system permeated with corruption for years. It is apparent that such candidates are planning to implement their well-tested schemes in the new Supreme Court, as well.

Artur Yemelianov (judge of the High Economic Court of Ukraine). The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine served Yemelianov with change papers for interference into the automated system of distribution of legal cases. Using this tool, Yemelianov has built a corruption scheme, manually distributing the cases among the “right” judges. Then Yemelianov demanded that the subordinate judges issued the “right” rulings. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine suspected Yemelianov together with his colleague Tatkov in extorting 500 thousand GBP from Kyiv businessman Lapeiko so that the court did not deprive him of the ownership of “Dekor Donbas” shopping mall in Donetsk.

Ihor Petryk (judge of Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal). Judge Petryk is suspected of receiving a bribe in the amount of 5 thousand USD which was retrieved by the prosecution from a special pocket in his robe. In his commentary for the media, the anticorruption prosecutor Nazar Kholodnytskyi said that the robes of judges have no pockets at all, which means that this one was made there on purpose. Judge Petryk himself, who has suddenly been hospitalized to the Feofania hospital after the incident with the bribe, claimed that he was severely ill and literally fled from the journalists’ questions about money. 

Alla Hetmanenko (judge of Hlukhiv City-District Court of Sumy Region). In 2012, Alla Hetmanenko – the then head of Hlukhiv City-District Court – was sentenced to five years of prison for receiving a bribe in the amount of 25 thousand USD for deliberate perversion of justice. According to the information of the law enforcement bodies, the judge must have made the subordinate employees enter false information to the automated document workflow system. The court of appeal of Chernihiv region has later revoked the sentence, having sent the case for further investigation, and the litigation is still in progress. 

  1. SERVICES TO THE REGIME OF YANUKOVYCH

When Yanukovych was the president, the judicial power has been rapidly losing public trust due to total corruption and the lack of justice. There is a lot of evidence about the system of selection and appointment of judges through personal audiences at the President’s Administration, as well as about the services performed by the judges to the ruling regime. This is proved by covering up of the crimes of the regime by some judges, persecution of protesters in court, and even public support of the course maintained by Yanukovych demonstrated by the top judges of the system.  

Yaroslav Romaniuk (head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine). Mr. Romaniuk became head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine during the presidency of Yanukovych shortly before the Euromaidan. It was during the Revolution of Dignity that judge Romaniuk demonstrated his loyalty to the regime, publicly supporting the autocratic laws of January 16, claiming that they facilitate the movement of Ukraine towards Europe. Shortly before those laws were adopted, Romaniuk – concerned about the protest campaigns – called on the authorities to ensure protection of judges, which was provided for by one of the autocratic laws of January 16. At the same time, Romaniuk is still the head of the Supreme Court of Ukraine and was one of the initiators of appealing against the constitutionality of the judicial reform.  

Eduard Shved (judge of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine). Although judge Shved did not support the regime of Yanukovych publicly, he was its loyal servant. It is evidenced by a number of rulings passed to the benefit of the then ruling elite. Mr. Shved, in particular, was a member of the panel of judges who nullified MP’s mandate of Serhii Vlasenko – defender of Yulia Tymoshenko, political opponent of Yanukovych. Eduard Shved was also one of the judges who confirmed the legitimacy of the visiting session of the Verkhovna Rada – known as “April coup” – which was organized by the Party of Regions and the Communist Party of Ukraine without letting the opposition MPs into the committees’ building in Bankova Street.  

Stepan Domuschi (judge of Odesa Administrative Court of Appeal). Stepan Domuschi, the judge from Odesa, approved the rulings of his colleagues in the first instance, having thus prohibited conduct of meetings, small protests, demonstrations, and other peaceful gatherings in the downtown of Odesa from November 25 to December 31, 2013.    

  1. COVER-UP

Cover-up in the judicial system guarantees judges’ immunity and impunity for committing crimes and perversion of justice. During the presidency of Yanukovych, cover-up has become so strong and deep-rooted that even after the Euromaidan some incumbent judges-candidates to the Supreme Court are still trying hard to defend each other, thus avoiding lustration, dismissal, and criminal responsibility. 

Yurii Retseburynskyi (judge of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine). Yurii Retseburynskyi, judge of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine, is notorious for supporting his colleagues who passed judgments on the participants of the Revolution of Dignity. It is Retseburynskyi who headed the panel of judges that reinstated the notorious judge Tsarevych in her former office. The latter passed judgments against the activists of the Avtomaidan on the basis of the forged reports of the traffic police. It was also Retseburynskyi who was a member of the panel of judges that reinstated judge Kytsiuk – who also passed judgments against the activists of the Avtomaidan – in his former office. As a member of the panel of judges, Retseburynskyi has also kept the office of his colleague from Kharkiv – judge Vasylieva who also passed judgments against the participants of the protests in Kharkiv.   

Oleh Holiashkin (judge of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine) Judge Oleh Holiashkin was head of the panel of judges who abolished the petition of the High Council of Justice concerning dismissal of Kyiv judge Nataliia Hrynkovska for the breach of oath. Hrynkovska issued a ruling on the journalist Valerii Harahuts who was violently beaten during the Euromaidan. Holiashkin together with his colleagues reinstated Dnipropetrovsk judge Mykola Reshetnik, who imposed the severest pre-trial restrictions on the participants of the Revolution of Dignity, in his former office. 

  1. DUBIOUS RULINGS

The analysis of the candidates has revealed a great number of cases raising doubts as to the impartiality of judges who passed the sentences, as well as the justice and validity of those sentences. For example, the analysis conducted by the CHESNO movement shows that 80% of the judges of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine have passed such dubious rulings. The public has doubts as to their legitimacy, impartiality, and justice, as well as the impact of political, business, and family connections on the court rulings.

Tetiana Shyroian (judge of the High Specialized Court of Ukraine). Judge Tetiana Shyroian has confirmed on the level of cassation the political sentence given to Yurii Lutsenko who was sentenced by the regime of Yanukovych for the allegedly illegal celebration of the Police Day in the “Ukraina” Palace. Ms. Shyroian has confirmed the legality of the sentence passed by Pechersk district court, whereby Lutsenko was imprisoned for four years.  

Lolita Romanets (judge of the High Specialized Court of Ukraine). As a member of the panel of judges, judge Romanets has shortened the term of imprisonment of ex-MP Viktor Lozinskyi, having reclassified the accusation of wilful murder into hooliganism and grievous bodily harm which led to death. Lozinskyi, accused of murdering his fellow villager Valerii Oliynyk while entertaining in his hunting ground, was sentenced to ten years of prison instead of fifteen. Having reclassified his case, the High Specialized Court of Ukraine has not only shortened the term of imprisonment, but also withdrew the accusation of wilful murder from Lozinskyi.

Roman Sakhno (judge of the High Specialized Court of Ukraine) As a member of the panel of judges, judge Sakhno has legitimized the ruling of Pechersk district court of Kyiv accusing Yulia Tymoshenko of illegal actions in the course of signing the gas agreements, having thus sentenced her to seven years of prison. 

  1. DUBIOUS PROPERTY

The properties of judges have recently been in the spotlight. Corruption cases are being disclosed more frequently, while the mismatches between the judges’ lifestyles and the official income of their families are extensively covered by the media. Some judges own expensive cars, lots of real estate, jewelry, and other luxury items, which raises doubts as to the legality of their origin.  

Oleksandr Sybiha (judge of the High Economic Court of Ukraine). Having declared plenty of money, judge Sybiha is, at the same time, homeless, as he has not declared any residential real estate. The office and the non-residential property belong to his wife. However, the journalists of the “Skhema” program and “Hromadske Radio” inform that judge Sybiha is living in a mansion of more than 700 sq. feet marked in his e-declaration as “unfinished construction”, which, in journalists’ opinion, has been done to cover-up a huge property. The judge has also declared Porshe Cayenne and expensive gold watches and jewelry. 

Mykola Zaika (judge of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine). In 2015, judge Mykola Zaika was ranked one of the top five richest judges in Ukraine. The total income of his family in 2015 amounted to 4,350,810 UAH. It is noteworthy that his wife, Halyna Symsa, owns 75% of corporate rights of the JSC “Soniachne Remeslo” which has special licenses for using the mineral resources of amber in Rivne region.  

Malvina Danylova (judge of the High Economic Court of Ukraine). Malvina Danylova, judge of the High Economic Court of Ukraine, owns several apartments in Kharkiv and a land plot in Kyiv region, although she is notorious for blaming electronic declarations for the robbery of her common-law husband’s house. However, her claims about the alleged harm of declarations were futile, as the judge did not declare her house in “Tsarskoye Selo”, the elite district of the capital city.

  1. CONNECTIONS

Declarations of family relations of judges have cast the light on the family networks in the judiciary which judges have been building for years. Judges often have a full set of professionals in their families: prosecutors, attorneys, public notaries, and judges of different instances. Tracking these connections, one might make conclusions on the issuance of rulings based on the conflict of interest, cover-up or nepotism and career promotion with the help of the relatives.

Tetiana Drobotova (judge of the High Economic Court of Ukraine) Among the candidates to the Supreme Court there is Tetiana Drobotova, judge of the High Economic Court of Ukraine, whose stepdaughter Iryna Ishchenko used to be a judge of the Economic Court of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, while in 2016, being dismissed for the breach of oath, started to work at the Arbitration Court of Crimea subordinate to the occupant authorities. Working for the occupants, the stepdaughter of the Supreme Court candidate, issued a ruling on collecting more than 12 billion RUB from “Privatbank” to the benefit of the Russian Depositors’ Guarantee Fund. Since 2009, her husband Illia Ishchenko has also been one of 276 judges suspected by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine of high treason for service in the illegally established courts in the territory of the occupied Crimea.     

Olha Diomina (judge of the High Specialized Court of Ukraine). The family of Olha Diomina is divided into two groups: judges and prosecutors. Her daughter is also judge working at the Economic Court of Kyiv region, while her son-in-law is the first deputy prosecutor of Kyiv region. The judge’s husband, Yurii Diomin, is lustrated former Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine and, according to the media reports, son of the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine Mykhailo Potebenko.

  1. CRIMES

Vested with immunity, the Ukrainian judges belonging to the old system have often violated the laws, bearing no punishment for that. There are a lot of records proving judges’ drunk driving or even grave criminal offences. Legal proceedings in these cases have either not been instituted at all, or the cases were dismissed shortly after commencement. Judges with the criminal record are also among the Supreme Court candidates.

Oleksandr Zakropyvnyi (judge of the High Specialized Court of Ukraine). In 2007, judge Zakropyvnyi crashed to death a woman with child. According to eyewitness accounts, the judge’s car was moving very fast – the impact was so strong that it ripped off the woman’s leg, while the child’s shoes were found 20 meters away. However, the criminal case against the judge was dismissed.

Vitalii Kovtunenko (judge of Lutsk City-District Court of Volyn Region). Judge Kovtunenko was subject of the criminal proceedings for perversion of justice which allowed to remove the ban on alienation of 27 real estate objects for the total amount of 25 million UAH.   

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