Stanislav Kravchenko, the head of the Criminal Cassation Court, has been elected as the new head of the Supreme Court.
The decision was made at the plenary session, according to Suspilne.
Kravchenko was elected from among three other candidates: judges of the Administrative Cassation Court Nataliya Kovalenko, Albert Yezerov and Ivan Mishchenko.
The meeting was declared duly constituted as 145 out of 165 judges registered for the meeting. Initially, some judges and candidates, including Nataliya Kovalenko, asked for a deferral of the meeting because they did not have enough time to form a team and prepare. However, it was decided to hold the plenum today: 119 judges supported it, while 44 were against it.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is elected and dismissed by the Plenum of the Supreme Court by secret ballot. The Chief Justice is elected from among the judges of the Supreme Court for a term of four years with the right to hold office for no more than two consecutive terms. The Chief Justice cannot simultaneously hold any other administrative position.
According to the Judicial and Legal Newspaper, Kravchenko was nominated by a group of Supreme Court judges. Kravchenko has over 25 years of experience as a judge. He has been the head of the Criminal Court of Cassation since December 2017. In an interview with Censor.net in 2018, he said that "there was no such thing as me being ashamed of my decision or showing any weakness, or concluding that a person was guilty when there were doubts, or imposing the wrong punishment",
However, in April 2017, the Public Integrity Council concluded that he did not meet the criteria of integrity and professional ethics. It was noted that Kravchenko had provided false information in his integrity declaration, as he did not indicate the fact that he had participated in decision-making with violations of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. He also entered false information in his property declaration in 2012-2014 - he did not indicate a 900-sq. m. plot of land.
In 2011, Kravchenko was a judge of the High Specialised Court of Ukraine for Civil and Criminal Cases, and in 2014 he became the deputy chairman of the court. The court was designed by Andriy Portnov, the architect of the Yanukovych-era judicial system. Kravchenko was also a member of the panel of judges that passed a decision that violated human rights, as stated by the European Court of Human Rights.
In addition, according to journalist Nataliya Sokolenko, in 2003, it was Kravchenko who released Gen Oleksiy Pukach, who killed journalist Georgiy Gongadze, from custody. Pukach escaped and was found only in 2009. Lawyer Roman Maselko also reported in 2017 that Kravchenko, together with another judge, Serhiy Slynko, released Pukach. Slynko was also elected to the Supreme Court.
The need to elect a new head of the Supreme Court arose because the previous head, Vsevolod Knyazyev, was detained on suspicion of accepting a $2.7m bribe.