18:50 01.07.2021

Rada passes at first reading bill on de-oligarchization

5 min read
Rada passes at first reading bill on de-oligarchization

The Verkhovna Rada has passed at the first reading president's bill No. 5599 on the prevention of threats to national security associated with the excessive influence of persons with significant economic or political heft in public life (oligarchs).

Some 275 MPs voted for the document at an extraordinary plenary session of the parliament on Thursday.

According to the document, any three of the four conditions are sufficient for the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) to include a person into a register of oligarchs: excessive influence on the media, participation in political life, beneficial ownership of a monopoly company, and a fortune of over 1 million living wages (about $83 million at the current exchange rate).

The basis for the inclusion of oligarchs into the register will be the NSDC decision. The NSDC will form and maintain the register, as well as provide open round-the-clock access to it. Information will be entered into the register no later than three days from the date of the NSDC relevant decision.

At the same time, persons included into the register will be banned from making contributions (directly or indirectly through other persons) in support of political parties, and being a buyer (beneficiary of the buyer) in the process of privatization of large-scale privatization objects. In addition, oligarchs will be required to submit a declaration of a person authorized to perform the functions of the state or local self-government, in accordance with the law on the corruption prevention.

The decision to exclude oligarchs from the register will be made by the NSDC if it is established that such persons do not have at least two of the four stipulated signs of an oligarch. At the same time, the sign of excessive influence on the media will not be considered absent if the status of the beneficiary of the relevant media outlet has passed from the person included into the register to a person related to them or a person who does not have an impeccable business reputation.

The signs of a bad business reputation of an individual are the presence of an outstanding criminal record, deprivation of the right to hold certain positions by a court, non-payment of taxes and fees on a large scale, application of sanctions against them by Ukraine and other states (except for aggressor states) over the past three years, and inclusion into a list of persons associated with terrorist activities.

The procedure for checking a business reputation of a media buyer, according to the bill, will be approved by the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting.

The bill also provides that a public servant, after contacts with an oligarch or their representative, no later than the next day, must fill out a declaration of contacts on the official website of the NSDC.

The bill clarifies that contact with an oligarch is a meeting and conversation, including those conducted online. At the same time, oligarchs and their representatives are obliged to inform public officials about the fact of inclusion into the register of information about them before the start of a meeting or conversation.

The obligation to submit such a declaration applies, in particular, to the President of Ukraine, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, their deputies, MPs, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers, the minister and their deputies, the SBU Chief and their deputies, the Prosecutor General and their deputies, the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine and their deputies, judges of the Constitutional Court, members of the National Council on Television and Radio Broadcasting, the Antimonopoly Committee, the Accounting Chamber, the Central Election Commission (CEC), the High Council of Justice, the NSDC Secretary and their deputies, the heads of the State Property Fund, the National Agency for the Corruption Prevention, directors of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, State Bureau of Investigations, Bureau of Economic Security and their deputies.

According to the bill, violation of the obligation to submit a declaration of contacts is the basis for bringing a person to political or disciplinary responsibility.

The declaration of contacts must contain information about the persons who submitted the information, about oligarchs included into the register and their representatives, with whom there was a contact, the date, place of a conversation and its brief content.

The transitional provisions to the bill indicate that the law will be limited to 10 years.

In addition, the presidential bill expands the list of mass media by electronic media on the Internet.

"Electronic media is a means of disseminating periodically updated information for an unspecified circle of subjects in electronic form using the Internet under a permanent name as an individualizing feature," such definition is given in the document.

According to it, a social network profile (account) is not considered as electronic media.

At the same time, in general, as mass media, the bill proposes to define the print media, electronic media, news agency, and broadcasting channel.