In his first major overhaul of Ukrainian law enforcement since the start of Russian aggression, President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday appointed a new prosecutor general. This decision in turn paved the way for the immediate appointment of a new anti-corruption prosecutor, which was part of Kyiv’s obligations to its Western backers.
The new prosecutor general is Andriy Kostin, 49, who had been a deputy from Zelenskyy’s parliamentary faction.
The appointment came two weeks after Zelenskyy sacked the former prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, as well as the head of the country’s main security service (SBU), Ivan Bakanov, citing their failure to root out Russian agents who had infiltrated the Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.
Hundreds of investigations have been opened for treason and Russian collaboration involving employees of prosecutor’s offices, pre-trial investigative bodies and other law enforcement agencies, Zelenskyy said at the time.
On Thursday, Zelenskyy said in a meeting with Kostin that the most important task of the prosecutor’s office was “to bring to justice all Russian war criminals who came to our land and did everything that, unfortunately, we and our children know in detail”.
Kostin said that no crime committed by the aggressor country would go unpunished, according to Zelenskyy’s office.
Immediately after his appointment, Kostin gave the green light to Oleksandr Klymenko to become the head of the country’s anti-corruption prosecutor’s office – a body created to oversee high-level corruption investigations.
The anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, established in 2015 as part of Kyiv’s commitments to Western donors to tackle endemic corruption in the country, had been headless for nearly two years.
Klymenko, 35, is a former detective with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), another law enforcement agency created under Western pressure to investigate corruption cases in which influential politicians and businessmen could be involved.
Andriy Yermak, the presidential chief of staff, said Thursday that an independent anti-corruption infrastructure is “an important component of democracy” in Ukraine. “The fight against corruption is a priority for our country, because our investment attractiveness and our freedom of enterprise depend on its success,” he added.
In June, immediately after the EU granted Ukraine candidate status, Yermak said the fight against corruption was on the long list of demands from Brussels that Kyiv must meet as it begins negotiations to join the block.
According to Yermak, the appointment of the head of the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office was among the priorities on which the Ukrainian leaders had agreed with Brussels.