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KIEV, December 18 /TASS/. The European Union will not cancel the visa regime for Ukrainians if Ukraine shows poor performance in fighting corruption and fails to launch a national anti-corruption agency, Vitaly Shabunin, head of Ukraine’s anti-corruption center, told a briefing on Friday.
"Even if the European Union decides to cancel visas for Ukraine, EU member states are unlikely to vote for this decision if Ukraine fails to launch the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption," Shabunin said.
The agency’s absence made it impossible for Ukraine to enforce an article of the Ukrainian Penal Code providing for a two-year prison sentence for corrupt government officials seeking to hide their true incomes in a tax declaration, Shabunin explained.
Ukraine's public has accused the government of intentional delays in launching the agency. The state's anti-corruption organisations have urged the prime minister and international institutions to announce a new contest for the national agency’s formation.
They believe that a contest-organising commission, comprised mainly of representatives from structures of power, had manipulated results of the previous contest and brought officials close to the prime minister to governing positions while barring public representatives from the contest.
Shabunin believes that the body in its present form will throw dust in the eyes of the European Union but will never be able to work properly. "The authorities fear that the agency, if launched, will provide maximum public access to information from bureaucrats’ income declarations," he said.