A member of the Public Integrity Council, former chairman of the Public Control Council at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Roman Maselko, is at risk of being disbarred based on the current appeal filed by Ihor Popov, member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction.
Reanimation Package of Reforms sees a clear connection between Roman Maselko’s anti-corruption activity and an attempt to bring him to disciplinary responsibility. Roman has always taken a principled position on the violations of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine during the selection of judges. He also contributed to strengthening the independence of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine. Besides, Roman is one of the attorneys in the Maidan cases.
On September 20, the meeting of the Disciplinary Commission of the Ukrainian National Bar Association will take place; it should consider information received from MP Ihor Popov. In his appeal dated May 31, 2018, he asks the Association to assess the information contained in the letter from the NGO Association of the Court Reporters of Ukraine. Among other things, the letter of the NGO states that Maselko criticizes judicial reform in his videoblog, supports whistle-blower judges Larysa Holnyk and Serhii Bondarenko, and according to the media, is a “secret NABU agent”.
This year, Roman Maselko was already been brought to disciplinary responsibility for violating the rules of attorneys’ ethics, which resulted in a warning. The ground for this was Maselko’s post in the social media regarding the decision of the Kyiv Appellate Administrative Court. In the course of a court appeal, the appellate court revoked it, but there is still a possibility of filing a cassation appeal. Meanwhile, if brought to justice twice within a year, Roman Maselko’s right to practice law will be suspended.
Given the provocative behavior of the said NGO, as well as the groundlessness of the allegations in the letter, Reanimation Package of Reforms views these actions as pressure on anti-corruption activists, which is aimed at intimidating and discrediting active citizens. Unfortunately, despite numerous appeals from the civil society and the international community in Ukraine, the issue of pressure on activists and journalists who expose and investigate grand corruption remains extremely acute. For more than a year, systematic harassment of the public sector has continued, from the introduction of mandatory electronic declaration for activists to physical harassment and the use of investigative actions to obtain information on the activities of investigative journalists.
Continued pressure and attempts to impede the activities of journalists and activists not only negatively affect the implementation of anti-corruption reform, but also reflect a worsening political climate in Ukraine and the signs of the country’s democratic rollback.
In view of this, Reanimation Package of Reforms calls on attorneys’ self-government bodies to act impartially and objectively and to refrain from unreasonable actions with respect to attorney Roman Maselko. Any actions aimed at harassing or intimidating activists and journalists who make an important contribution to the fight against corruption must immediately stop.