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Ukraine leader asks MPs to annul court ruling, judges denounce a 'coup'

by Reuters
Friday, 30 October 2020 12:18 GMT

(Adds court comment)

By Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets

KYIV, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked parliament to dissolve the Constitutional Court and annul its ruling that struck down some anti-corruption laws, the latest tussle over graft that Zelenskiy has said could jeopardise international economic aid.

The president made his request in a draft submitted to parliament early on Friday.

The court's head, Oleksandr Tupytskyi told a news conference in response, "This is definitely not constitutional. It bears the signs of a constitutional coup". He added the aim was to create an "obedient" court.

Several hundred protesters gathered on Friday outside the Constitutional Court building in downtown Kyiv, demanding the judges come out and explain to them the reasons for this week's ruling on the anti-graft laws.

Some set tyres ablaze and set off smoke bombs. They held up posters saying "Corruption Court of Ukraine" and "Remove Pigs from the Constitutional Court".

The court ruled in a decision published on Thursday against some anti-corruption laws, citing as excessive the punishment for false information on officials' asset declarations, and also struck down some powers of the main NAZK anti-graft agency.

"The decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine...is null and void," the presidential draft said, according to a copy reviewed by Reuters. It proposed restoring the anti-corruption laws that the Constitutional Court threw out.

Parliament is due to vote on the draft but no date has been set. Zelenskiy on Thursday promised swift action, saying the draft was urgent and parliament must vote on it as soon as possible.

Ukraine's patchy performance on economic reforms and tackling entrenched corruption has derailed a $5 billion programme agreed in June with the International Monetary Fund, at a time when its economy is in sharp downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Union's delegation to Kyiv said this week its financial assistance was also tied to Ukraine's performance on corruption. (Additional reporting by Gleb Garanich Editing by Robert Birsel, Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry)

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