Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken aim at the country’s establishment, calling Constitutional Court decisions against anti-corruption legislation a “conspiracy of old elites” to help the nation’s “untouchable caste.”
On October 27, Ukraine’s Constitutional Court struck down a law that would punish government officials for inaccurately declaring personal assets, meaning that civil servants can no longer be criminally prosecuted for lying about their income. Zelensky believes that the judges were acting in their own private interests.
“I know for sure that the demarche of the Constitutional Court is a public manifestation of a conspiracy of some of the old elites and oligarchs, against the president and the country,” Zelensky wrote on his Facebook page. “Because a weak president and a weak state are the keys to preserving their corrupt lifestyle.”
According to Zelensky, the court’s judges, who were appointed “by the old system,” are seeking to preserve the elites who “don’t want to pay any bills” and “don’t want to be responsible for their years of uncontrolled lifestyles.”
Late last Thursday, Zelensky submitted a bill to the country’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, to break up the Constitutional Court and remove all its judges for acting “in its private interests.” If passed, the bill would also declare the court’s rulings “null and void.” In response, the court’s chairman, Alexander Tupitsky, accused the president of a “constitutional coup.”
Aside from threatening the president’s bid to open up financial transparency within the government, the court’s decision also puts at risk billions of dollars in financial aid due to be received from the IMF, and could lead to cuts to aid from the European Union.
Elected in 2019, former comedian Zelensky ran on a platform of fighting corruption and ending the war in Donbass, which helped him defeat ex-president Petro Poroshenko.
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