The judicial reform lays the basis for a high-quality reboot of the judiciary. It is done, in particular, through the reorganization of the old High Council of Justice into the new High Council of Justice – a key agency in charge of the issues concerning judges’ careers. Six new members of the High Council of Justice should be elected from the pool of 44 candidates at the Congress of Judges on March 14-15, which should ensure that one third of the Council members are new. The candidates to such high-ranking offices in the judicial sphere shall meet the criteria of professional integrity and competence. At the same time, not all the candidates can boast of excellent knowledge of law, politically unbiased past, adoption of fair judgments, transparent income, and ethical behavior.
Within the campaign “CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary!”, the CHESNO movement has analyzed all the 44 candidates to the High Council of Justice and compiled the list of unscrupulous candidates who should not be elected for these positions.
The candidates who ended up in the “blacklist” of the CHESNO movement have violated at least one criterion of professional integrity set according to the methodology of the “CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary!” campaign.
Involvement in passing dubious judgments
Seven candidates to the High Council of Justice were involved in passing the judgments which raise doubts as to observance of general principles of justice, impartiality, and objectivity in the course of case consideration and adoption of the judgment by a judge or a panel of judges. This pertains to high-profile judgments related to the Euromaidan, politicized issues, etc.
Involvement in the violation of human rights
As a servant of Themis, a judge should defend justice and protect civil rights and freedoms. However, not all judges believe that journalists and public activists have the right to attend open case hearings or that the citizens have the right for a fair case consideration. Two candidates to the High Council of Justice were involved in the violation of human rights.
Mismatch between the lifestyle and the declared income and non-transparent origin of property
Plenty of judges are used to living beyond their income, dwelling in elite houses and driving expensive cars. New rules underpinning the judicial reform obligate the judges to honestly declare their property and report on whether it matches their income. If a judge is unable to explain the origin of his or her assets, he or she can be formally dismissed. However, the candidates to the High Council of Justice are obviously not afraid of it – eight of them have demonstrated a mismatch between their lifestyle and the declared income or non-transparent origin of property.
Almost half of the candidates to the High Council of Justice are simultaneously running for judges’ positions at the Supreme Court. Two Supreme Court candidates have already fallen out of race, not getting the minimum passing score in the law test. If a judge is unable to get more than 53 points of max. 90, it might be said that he or she lacks professional competence to take up an office either at the Supreme Court or at the High Council of Justice.
“BLACKLIST” OF CANDIDATES TO THE HIGH COUNCIL OF JUSTICE
Hryhoriy Aleinikov, retired judge
- Poor knowledge of law
Hryhoriy Aleinikov has dropped out of the competition for the office of judge of the Supreme Court, having failed the anonymous written law test. The judge did not get the passing score, having scored 53,25 points out of max. 90.
Ruslan Arsiriy, judge at the Kyiv Circuit Administrative Court
- Prevented redeeming the gas fields privatized during the presidency of Yanukovych.
In November 2014, judge Arsiriy together with his colleagues Ohurtsov and Pohribnichenko passed the judgment which did not allow the state to redeem 20 gas fields privatized by the company “Golden Derrick” during the presidency of Yanukovych. “Golden Derrick” LLC is managed by the people affiliated with Yanukovych: ex-minister of energy Stavytskyi and ex-minister of agribusiness industry Prysiazhniuk. Moreover, according to the investigation of “Slidstvo.Info” program, judge Arsiriy, as a member of a panel of judges, passed judgments while staying abroad.
- Cannot explain where he got money for exotic holidays.
The journalists of the investigatory program “Slidstvo.Info” found out that the judge often spends vacations on exotic resorts, for example, in Mexico and Jamaica. However, the judge refused to explain how he can afford such expensive vacations.
- Has relatives with political connections.
According to the family relationships declaration for 2011-2015, the judge’s brother Yaroslav Arsiriy was deputy minister of culture and tourism in 2010-2011, while since 2014 he has been working as an attorney. In addition, according to the portal “Nashi hroshi”, during the presidency of Yanukovych Yaroslav Arsiriy worked as a deputy governor of Kirovohrad region. The portal informs that this region has always been considered a foothold of Eduard Stavytskyi: no appointment to the high-ranking offices was made without his involvement.
Kostiantyn Babenko, judge of Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal
- The judge owns a house, five apartments, four cars, and a company in Crimea.
The judge owns ten land plots and a mansion. The judge’s daughter owns two apartments in Kyiv 215,5 sq.m and 149,5 sq.m. in area which she acquired at the age of 16. The judge’s wife owns a house 138 sq.m in area, a 75-sq.m. apartment in Kryvyi Rih, a 31-sq.m. apartment in Russia, and three cars: Mercedes-Benz GL 320 CDI of 2008, Lexus RX 400H of 2008, and Toyota RAV4 of 2006. Moreover, the judge’s wife is a partner of two legal entities: private enterprise “Amida-Krym” and LLC “Joint Ukrainian-Russian Enterprise “Promtorginvest-Company”.”
According to the website «Prosud», the judge’s wife owns a private enterprise “Amida-Krym” registered in the Crimean city of Alushta. After the peninsula had been occupied, the said enterprise was not re-registered in Ukraine. Moreover, according to that website, this enterprise was re-registered in accordance with the law of the Russian Federation.
The declarations of 2015 and 2016 indicate that K. A. Babenko received his main income in the form of his official salary, while his wife received no income from partnership in the abovementioned enterprises.
Stepan Hladiy, judge of the Kyiv Court of Appeal
- Prohibited the media to stream webcast and expelled the complainant in the case of Gongadze-Podolskyi from the hall.
According to the website of the “Day” newspaper, considering the case of Gongadze-Podolskyi in 2015, a panel of judges headed by judge Hladiy passed two resolutions on bringing the complainant Podolskyi (kidnapped and beaten by O. P. Pukach in 2000) to administrative responsibility with financial sanction in the amount of 1,530 UAN and 1,700 UAH and prohibiting the media to stream webcast from the session call. Finally, they also decided to expel the complainant from the hall.
- Confusing information provided in the declarations.
In 2015, judge Hladiy declared 40 thousand USD belonging to his wife (who did not have any income in 2015) and 100 thousand USD owned by his father-in-law Valentyn Bolhar.
Yet, in the declaration for 2016, Valentyn Bolhar is also mentioned as an owner of a 58-sq.m. apartment in Kyiv rented since 2015 by the judge’s wife (the judge’s declaration for 2015 does not mention this apartment). The sum of 100 thousand USD is indicated as the property of the judge himself which he lent to the third parties.
Oksana Epel, judge of Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal
- Drives expensive cars and covered up her husband’s property.
According to the information from “Prosud” website, the Epel family is fairly rich: elite cars – Jaguar XF of 2008, Porsche Cayenne of 2011, Volkswagen CC of 2012, and Lexus RX350 of 2008; land plots of 11,937 sq.m. in total area, and a 590-sq.m house. Moreover, the judge’s family is building a 841-sq.m. house in the village of Lisnyky in Kyiv region. The judge is also using a dormitory room – most probably to get an official housing in the capital city.
At the same time, in 2016 the judge declared that her family owned 900 thousand UAH and 230 thousand USD, which exceeds the total declared family income in 2015 and 2016. In her declaration for 2013, the judge did not provide any information about the income and the property of her husband claiming that he had not informed her about it.
- The judge’s husband is affiliated with the entourage of Yanukovych.
According to the “Ukrainska Pravda”, the judge’s husband Oleksandr Epel is a businessman in Donetsk and a business partner of the family of Oleksandr Klymenko, former income and tax minister who is now hiding in Russia.
- Needs “raising qualification”, but stays a judge.
Written tests administered within the qualification assessment in 2016 showed that judge Epel needs to raise her qualification, yet despite this the judge has successfully passed the initial qualification assessment, while the Head of the High Qualification Commission of Judges Serhiy Koziakov advised the judge to drive less expensive cars.
Valentyna Kurylo, judge of the Court of Appeal of Donetsk region
- Judging by the declaration, she lives in an apartment in Donetsk and commutes to work across the separation line on a daily basis.
According to the declaration, the judge rents an apartment in Donetsk. The judge has not declared another housing in the territory controlled by Ukraine. In connection with the antiterrorist operation, the Court of Appeal of Donetsk region is located in the towns of Bakhmut and Mariupol, so it is doubtful that the judge can commute on a daily basis across the line separating the temporarily occupied territory.
Anatoliy Lazarenko, judge of Letychiv District Court of Khmelnytskyi region
- Sentenced a person to prison despite the fact that the complainant withdrew his accusation.
The judge found guilty a person and sentenced him to seven years of prison despite the fact that the complainant said at the court session that he has no complaints against the accused. In addition, a witness said at the court session that her written report is invalid, as it had been drawn up by the police officers on her behalf.
Taras Oksiuta, judge of Solomianskyi District Court of Kyiv
- Passed a judgment which enabled a forcible takeover of “Globus” shopping mall.
According to the “Correspondent” website, disciplinary proceedings against T. H. Oksiuta were instituted in 2013 due to the breach of the oath. It was judge Oksiuta who passed the judgment used with the purpose of a forcible takeover of Globus shopping mall in Kyiv in 2013.
- Olena Pervushyna, judge of Holosiyivskyi District Court of Kyiv.
- Headed the court which persecuted the participants of the Revolution of Dignity.
During the Revolution of Dignity, Holosiyivskyi court, headed by judge Pervushyna, actively persecuted the activists. At least seven judges of this court passed illegitimate judgments, suspending driver’s licenses of the participants of the Automaidan. However, judge Pervushyna gained notoriety when she initiated criminal proceedings against the public activists who had allegedly persecuted her.
Moreover, to take part in the congress of Kyiv judges in February 2017, judge Pervushyna stepped down from the office of the head of court and secured the votes of judges Kalinichenko and Frolov already dismissed by the President. Six judges have claimed that the delegates from Holosiyivskyi district court have been elected illegitimately.
- Has not declared her car and the house where she lives.
According to the investigative report of “PROSUD”, judge Pervushyna has not mentioned the house of her ex-husband where she is living in her declaration for 2014. Neither has she declared the car she is driving.
Vitaliy Sniehiriov, judge of Briankivsky City Court of Luhansk region
- Evaded dismissal for the breach of oath.
In 2013, the old High Council of Justice found out that judge Sniehiriov committed systemic violations incompatible with the office of a judge. In Briankivski City Court, the judge considered the cases concerning property in Kyiv and Odesa, facilitated illegal appropriation of property, did not engage the actual owners of property in the proceedings, and satisfied the claims of people whose rights were not violated. The judge managed to evade responsibility for this, since – due to absence of several members of the old High Council of Justice – there was a lack of votes to submit to the Parliament a petition on dismissing the judge for breaching the oath.
Moreover, the old High Council of Justice found out that in 2013 judge Sniehiriov passed a judgment prohibiting the National Securities and Stock Market Commission to perform its obligations, including control over the activity in the securities market through withdrawing the licenses of the traders violating the law.
Tetiana Strelets, judge of the Higher Administrative Court of Ukraine
- Helped the judges who persecuted the activists of the Revolution of Dignity to keep their offices.
As a member of a panel of judges, judge Strelets passed the judgment which proclaimed the petition of the old High Council of Justice on dismissing Nelia Tsybra, judge of Chornobayivskyi District Court of Cherkasy region, as illegitimate. The latter was to be dismissed for breaching the oath by her judgments on the arrest of activists of the Euromaidan in Cherkasy.
Mykhailo Tsurkan, judge of the Higher Administrative Court of Ukraine
- Helped the judges-perpetrators to keep their offices.
As a member of a panel of judges, judge Tsurkan helped three judges-perpetrators to keep their offices, having abolished the resolution of the old High Council of Justice on their dismissal. Thus, judge Tsurkan reinstated in their offices judge Kravets who had forbidden to use the premises of Kyiv City Council during the Revolution of Dignity, judge Nikulina who violated procedural rights of the participants of the legal proceedings, and judge Khytryk who caused a drunk driving road accident.
Tetiana Chumachenko, retired judge
- Helped the judges who persecuted the activists of the Revolution of Dignity to keep their offices.
As a member of a panel of judges, together with judge Strelets she passed a judgment which proclaimed the petition of the old High Council of Justice on dismissing Nelia Tsybra, judge of Chornobayivskyi District Court of Cherkasy region, as illegitimate. The latter was to be dismissed for breaching the oath by her judgments on the arrest of activists of the Euromaidan in Cherkasy.
Larysa Shvetsova, judge of the Court of Appeal of Kharkiv region
- Large property against a relatively small income.
With the annual income of 430,165 UAH, the Shvetsov family acquired the ownership (or commissioned) a 179, 4-sq.m. house worth 1 million UAH.
Owns a fairly big car park: Smart (owned since 2014), Mercedes-Benz (owned since 2014), Pontiac (as a person authorized to drive this vehicle since 2014), Dacia Solenza, Ford Fusion, and UAZ (purchased in 2015). According to the data in the declaration, in 2013-2015 the judge’s family spent only 237,000 UAH on these cars.
Pavlo Shkinder, judge of the Court of Arbitration of Ivano-Frankivsk region
- Poor knowledge of law.
Pavlo Shkinder has dropped out of the competition for the office of a judge of the Supreme Court, having failed the anonymous written law test. The judge did not get the passing score, having scored 52,5 points out of max. 90.