Ukraine leader asks MPs to annul court ruling on anti-corruption laws

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a parliamentary session in Kyiv, Ukraine October 20, 2020. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked parliament to annul a Constitutional Court ruling striking down some anti-corruption laws, which campaigners said was a major setback in the fight against graft, and to re-instate them.

The request, in a presidential draft submitted to parliament early on Friday, is the latest move in tussle over corruption that Zelenskiy has said could jeopardise international aid.

The Constitutional Court this week ruled to abolish some anti-corruption laws, citing as excessive the punishment for false information on officials' asset declarations. It 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.

The president's draft proposed restoring the anti-corruption laws that the Constitutional Court threw out. The NAZK denounced the court's action as the destruction of the anti-corruption system.

The president also proposed dissolving the Constitutional Court and electing new members.

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 reforms and tackling entrenched corruption has derailed a $5 billion programme agreed in June with the International Monetary Fund at a time its economy is in sharp downturn due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The European Union's delegation to Kyiv warned that its financial assistance was tied to Ukraine's performance on corruption.

The United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union have backed Ukraine with aid and sanctions on Russia after the 2014 Maidan street protests that ousted a Kremlin-backed leader, but repeatedly pressed Kyiv to quicken the pace of reforms.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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