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Scoop of the day: coronavirus "record", scandal around anticorruption bodies

Scoop of the day: coronavirus "record", scandal around anticorruption bodies

Coronavirus

By the morning of 17 September, Ukraine has posted yet another daily record of 3,584 new cases. Overall, Ukraine has logged in 166,244 coronavirus cases.

SAPO

The EU and the USA "take note" of the Ukrainian parliament's decision to appoint members to the commission to choose the Specialised Anticorruption Prosecutor, the US embassy has tweeted after Ukrainian MPs, at a third attempt, appointed representatives to the commission which will select candidates for administrative posts at the Specialised Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office. Parliament was to delegate seven representatives who, under the law, must have flawless business reputation, high professional skills and moral qualities, and have a significant experience in preventing corruption.

"The commission needs to embark on a transparent process with candidates' integrity and merits at its core. Our further support will depend upon it," the embassy added.

German MEP Viola von Cramon questioned the choice of the delegates to the commission.

"While international community is occupied with #Belarus, #Ukraine government is hastily pushing candidates lacking experience & integrity to select #SAPO head. This will not fly," she tweeted. "The Ukrainian Government is jeopardizing visa-free with the EU and further trance of €1,5 Billion assistance," she added.

The Ukrainian president's office has advised against "excessive emotions on the part of all participants in a public discussion on the activities of the state's anticorruption infrastructure". It added that the candidates were selected "fully in line with a strict procedure and a lively parliament discussion".

Ex-President Petro Poroshenko has called on parliament to revise its decision on the formation of the SAPO selection commission, which put visa-free travel with the EU in danger.

"The European Parliament has started talking about the cancellation of visa-free travel for Ukraine. This is a polite warning to Bankova [presidential office] which has been literally crushing the independent anticorruption structure in recent weeks," he said.

The Ukrainian Parliament must bring the law on the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine into line with the constitution, EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano has told Deutsche Welle. He noted that the bureau's independence is a condition for visa-free travel and macrofinancial assistance.

Jews

Hasidic Jews stuck at the Belarusian border on their way to Ukraine's Uman for Rosh Hashanah donned Ukrainian national costumes and sang the national anthem of Ukraine, begging President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to let them in despite a nearly blanket ban on foreigners in Ukraine as part of coronavirus measures. The video of them singing was posted by the head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, Eduard Dolinskyy.

Exclusive: The Hasidic Jews stuck at the border should return to Belarus and fly home, ambassador Joel Lion has said in an interview with LB.ua. He fully supports the Ukrainian authorities' decision to close the border to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

According to Lion, Israel would like Ukraine to open its embassy in Jerusalem. The negotiations on the matter got stuck because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also said that people who wreak havoc in Uman, including those who crushed the fencing at Rabbi Nachman's grave, have nothing to do with the Hasidism. He explained that such people, including some Israeli citizens, are hooligans and anarchists.

Military

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has opened the international military exercise Rapid Trident 2020 in Lviv Region. In the opening speech, he said that a modern, well-equipped and combat-ready army was among his priorities while Ukraine's strategic course is for NATO membership.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces' General Staff is procuring Parker gift pens costing from 672 to 8,640 hryvnyas each, according to the Nashi Hroshi investigative project.

Parliament has adopted the bill on intelligence

Russia

The Ukrainian Ministry of Culture and Information Policy has removed Russian rapper Basta from the list of individuals posting threat to Ukraine's national security at the request of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). He has been barred from Ukraine since September 2017 over his performance in Russia-annexed Crimea in violation of Ukrainian legislation.

Corruption

Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova has signed a notice of suspicion for Servant of the People MP Oleksandr Yurchenko and requested he be placed in custody. He is suspected of receiving a large-scale illegal benefit and inciting the provision of an illegal benefit to an official repeatedly. According to investigators, he extorted a bribe in a veiled form for lobbying a bill.

He was officially expelled from the Servant of the People faction today.

Speaker Dmytro Razumkov has called on Yurchenko to give up his MP mandate, saying this "would be a manly act" for a politician.

Parliament has passed a bill banning MPs and mayors from hiring relatives.

Human rights

Russia persecutes 134 Ukrainians for political motives, according to an adviser to the Ukrainian ombudsman, Iryna Zakrynychna. She added that 112 Ukrainians, including 78 Crimean Tatars, are currently illegally detained in Russia or occupied Crimea.

Crime

Since the beginning of the year, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has opened 52 cases over high treason and 27 over the establishment of a terrorist group, two for sabotage, espionage and terrorist acts each.

Incident

A forest fire broke out at a military range in the village of Divychky in Kyiv Region. Over 100 servicemen are involved in extinguishing it.

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