Wed, 02 Dec 2020

KYIV -- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Constitutional Court have clashed over a ruling to abolish some anti-corruption laws, as hundreds of protesters gathered in the streets of Kyiv over the decision.

Zelenskiy asked lawmakers on October 30 to annul a court ruling earlier this week that struck down some anti-corruption legislation and curbed the powers of the National Anti-Corruption Agency (NAZK).

In its ruling, the court said the punishment for false information on an official's asset declaration, as envisioned by the laws, was too harsh.

But Zelenskiy said the move could jeopardize vital international economic aid and called for lawmakers to dissolve the Constitutional Court because its decisions were 'worthless.'

Zelenskiy proposed restoring the anti-corruption laws in question and electing new members to the Constitutional Court.

In turn, the head of the court, Oleksandr Tupytskiy, told a news conference that Zelenskiy's moves were 'definitely not constitutional' and that they 'bear the signs of a constitutional coup,' in which the president wants to create an 'obedient' court.

Protesters in Kyiv gathered in front of the court demanding the justices explain their decision. No incidents were reported at the site.

Kyiv's slow progress on reforms and anti-corruption efforts has become an obstacle to implementing a $5 billion program agreed in June with the International Monetary Fund.

The European Union's delegation to Kyiv has warned that its financial assistance was tied to Ukraine's performance on corruption.

The court ruling was also controversial because four judges were under investigation by the NAZK for failing to properly declare assets in their declarations.

The four judges did not recuse themselves from the case, despite calls to do so from the government and anti-corruption campaigners.

With reporting by Reuters and UNIAN

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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