Activists with their hands tied and plastic bags over their heads sit next to other demonstrators during a protest in front of the office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine in Kiev on August 17, 2016. (AFP)
About 100 protesters gathered outside the office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Wednesday, accusing lawyers handling financial cases of abetting massive official corruption.
Demonstrators in Kiev chanted slogans against Yuri Lutsenko and his subordinate prosecutors.
“Lutsenko, don’t stay silent! Your prosecutors are criminals!” the protesters shouted.
They wore plastic bags on their heads and had their hands tied.
The protesters expressed support for the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, an agency set up last year after Ukraine’s Western backers urged a speedier fight against corruption.
Last week, prosecutors detained two of the agency’s officers, prompting protests. The agency called the arrests illegal, saying the officers suffered physical violence while they were carrying out an undercover investigation.
Activists attend a demonstration demanding the dismissal of prosecutors whom they say are involved in illegal arrest and torturing of employees of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, in front of the office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine in Kiev, August 17, 2016. (Reuters)
Mustafa Nayyem, a pro-Western lawmaker who attended the demonstration, condemned the “open unlawful confrontation” between the anti-corruption agency and the prosecutors, saying some “old schemes” are returning to Ukraine.
Two years after the ouster of President Viktor Yanoukovych, many say Ukraine has yet to get rid of its corrupt elite. The government, which faces a difficult task of carrying out reforms and tackling corruption to secure international aid, has also been accused of inaction regarding the case.
“The attack is on all fronts: accusations of illegal activities, character assassination and sabotage,” Nayyem said in a message posted on Facebook Tuesday, adding, “This is a war, but not against corruption and lawlessness. This is a war by the departing elite to save its looted status quo.”
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau is expected to meet the requirements of the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. The body has uncovered major corruption scandals involving government officials and judges.