Ukraine Passes Oligarch Law a Day After Official Was Shot At
(Bloomberg) -- Ukraine passed legislation seeking to curb the influence of the country’s richest tycoons, a day after officials said the pushback by politicians was behind an assassination attempt on a presidential aide.
Parliament approved the so-called oligarch bill on Thursday as part of efforts to clamp down on the corruption that’s dogged the eastern European nation since communism collapsed 30 years ago.
People subject to the law, initiated by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, will be forced to disclose their assets, and will be barred from financing political parties, holding government posts and taking part in privatizations.
Zelenskiy was attending a United Nations meeting in New York on Wednesday when a car carrying his top aide, Serhiy Shefir, was hit by 18 bullets in Kyiv. Shefir escaped unscathed. A Zelenskiy adviser called the attack “an attempt to demonstratively murder a key member of the team” working on the anti-oligarch legislation.
Who’s deemed an oligarch under the law will be decided by the National Defense and Security Council using four criteria: participation in public life, level of influence over mass media, ownership or control of a company with a monopoly and whether assets exceed 2.4 billion hryvnia ($88 million). The legislation will stay in effect for 10 years.
The opposition dismissed the law as populist and warn it may allow Zelenskiy, himself a successful businessman albeit not in the upper echelons of Ukraine’s wealthy, to consolidate power. They say a stronger judiciary and tougher anti-monopoly legislation would be more effective.
Zelenskiy won power in 2019 on promises to end the grip of oligarchs on the former Soviet republic, where endemic graft has weighed on economic progress.
But he’s made little headway, and the law would hurt political rivals such as his predecessor, Petro Poroshenko, a lawmaker with two TV channels and a confectionery empire.
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