Any political persecution in Ukraine is incompatible with the people’s chosen course towards EU membership, warns Brussels-based expert Manel Msalmi.
“Political persecution of Ukrainian businesses in the middle of the country during the war is unacceptable and harms the European course of development of Ukraine,” international affairs advisor to the European People’s Party at the European Parliament, and a highly respected expert in the area of human rights, told EU Reporter.
“Today, the number of cases when we learn from European publications that Ukrainian business continues to be oppressed by law enforcement agencies inside the warring country has become more frequent. And this pressure has a corrupt or political basis,” the Brussels-based expert continued.
“I consider it absolutely unacceptable in a state that has chosen a European course of development and professes European values.
“Respect for human dignity and rights, freedom, democracy, equality and, workers rights according to EU regulations, and most importantly, the rule of law are close and understandable worldview principles for every Ukrainian. If European integration is a priority for the Ukrainian authorities, the rapprochement of Ukraine with the EU should take place both at the level of laws and at the level of social norms and rules that exist in our society.”
On May 25, 2023, during a media interview the owner of the Ukrainian industrial and investment group Aurum, Alyona Lebedieva, talked about unique examples of pressure on Ukrainian business in wartime conditions, and in particular the scourge of “corporate raiders”.
“The fact is that I do not believe in Ukrainian justice as it stands at this moment. Let us take the recent high-profile case against the head of the Supreme Court, the most important person in the judicial system of Ukraine,” she said, referring to Vsevolod Serhiiovych Kniaziev, President of the Supreme Court of Ukraine who was detained on 15 May 2023 while allegedly receiving a $2.7 million bribe that was reported by the Kyiv Post to have been shared with as many as 10 other judges.
“And there are more such examples,” she continued. “I clearly see that if Ukraine wants to be included in civilised society, it needs to radically change everything. There is no magic pill, we have a long and difficult journey ahead! These are cancerous tumours, and it is not an easy fight! I am waiting for the end of all court procedures in Ukraine and I am preparing for the ECHR.”
Matthew A. Rojansky, Director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, has also highlighted the threat that such an environment poses to Ukraine’s future EU accession: “Corporate raiding in Ukraine is a widely discussed and reported problem that severely damages investment and economic development, prospects for European integration, and the welfare of ordinary people. Yet the phenomenon of raiding itself is only poorly understood.
“An effort to improve the climate for business and investment in Ukraine must begin by recognising the roots of the economy’s dysfunction, including the perennial weakness of property rights. Without strong property rights, market actors are likely to be denied the main benefits of economic activity, thereby reducing incentives for such activity and hampering growth.”The mood in Brussels and indeed all the European capitals is firmly behind Ukrainian accession: however, the cancer of corruption threatens to derail the process, and as we see from the case of Vsevolod Serhiiovych Kniaziev this is a problem that goes to the highest levels in the land.
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