The European Parliament has called on the President not to sign the controversial urban planning "reform." In the resolution of the European Parliament, this project is described as one that "may be beneficial to specific interest groups at the expense of equal rules of the game and transparency." The Movement CHESNO and a number of other civil society organizations have repeatedly emphasized this, as such a project can be advantageous to dishonest developers. This jeopardizes the transparency and quality of Ukraine's post-war reconstruction.
The leader of the "Servant of the People" party, Olena Shulyak, has been awaiting the signing of draft bill No. 5655 for seven months. Сivil society and citizens who supported the petition to the President also waited for a veto for 7 months.
However, even the decision of the European Parliament has not stopped the "implementers" team. During the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023, a major international conference on Ukraine's recovery taking place in London from June 21 to 23rd, there have been references to and lobbying for No. 5655.
"We have already implemented draft laws at the national level to facilitate the implementation of the most challenging construction projects, even though it used to be the most corrupt institution in our country. However, over the past two years, we have received only positive feedback from our business community and all business associations. That's why we need to expand this system to the local level. For this purpose, 5655 is critical," stated Olexander Kubrakov, Deputy Prime Minister for Ukraine's recovery, during his speech at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London.
Moreover, a separate presentation was prepared for the criticized draft law by Europe.
Photo: Anatoliy Tkachuk.
The government official is demonstratively ignoring the resolution of the European Parliament.
However, efforts to lobby for "reform" are not limited to the international level. They are also ongoing within Ukraine. After the European Parliament's decision, some websites have disseminated materials with signs of disinformation. This orchestrated information campaign is aimed at discrediting the resolution of the European Parliament and the arguments of European partners in particular.
Moreover, several media outlets even failed to correct the error in the headline. They took the ready-made text and published it without making necessary amendments.
In some published materials, it is mentioned that the decision of the European Parliament was "influenced" by the Mayor of Kyiv, Vitaliy Klychko, as there are shared photos of Klychko and European Parliament member Gahler available online. However, it should be noted that the Gahler and Klychko photo is from a decade ago when Klychko wasn't even the mayor.
The information campaign essentially started with a post by Marianna Bezuhla, a member of the "Servant of the People" party, who stated that the Member of the European Parliament, Michael Gahler, amended by voice vote, implying that others should learn from European Parliament members.
While most people who reacted to Bezuhla's post laughed it off, special attention should be given to the response from Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Kubrakov. With Olena Shulyak and their team, he has been "implementing" the controversial draft bill that the President has not signed for over six months. They have even created a separate website, https://pro5655.gov.ua, on a government domain.
Kubrakov warmly supported the post that discredits the role and political processes of the European Parliament.
Indeed, the decision of the European Parliament cannot be influenced by the position of a single member. Each vote is cast individually. However, for the author of the "reform," Olena Shulyak, such a decision was a surprise. She learned about the call not to sign her draft bill only through the comments on the post in which she greeted her colleagues and European friends with the decisive outcome of their work—the adoption of the resolution. She was not entirely familiar with the text of the statement.
Indeed, the decision of the European partners could have been unexpected for Shulyak. She lobbied for this "reform" even at the international level, during events where she was invited as the chair of the relevant Committee on the Organization of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development, and Urban Planning.
For example, during her speech at the meeting of the European Committee of the Regions, which aimed to strengthen the role of local self-government bodies in the process of Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction on the path to EU membership, Shulyak exceeded the allotted time to talk about draft bill No. 5655. Of course, during her speech, she did not mention the resistance from local self-government unions, civil society, and experts, nor did she note that the President has not signed this text for over six months.
The work on implementing the unsigned and scandalous urban development "reform" continues through various available "implementers" following the resolution of the European Parliament.
The main page of the Ministry of Infrastructure's website features a banner regarding the unsigned bill No. 5655, referring to it as an "urban development reform." The publication of such materials on the ministry's official website may indicate an abuse of governmental resources, as the legislation clearly establishes the ministry's obligation to adhere to the Constitution of Ukraine and other laws enacted in accordance with it. Bill No. 5655 lacks legal force and cannot be considered part of Ukrainian legislation.
Furthermore, the website includes a separate section dedicated to this "reform," where selected materials on the project's content and its discussion are published. This section follows the same principles as the content on the current government website dedicated to the specific bill at https://pro5655.gov.ua.
Despite a significant number of publications highlighting the issues and risks of the project, both on the bill's website and the Ministry of Infrastructure's website, only favorable reviews of the text have been published. The Movement CHESNO's request to publish other materials regarding the bill has yet to receive a response.
The section also features news about meetings held within the consultations of the Ministry of Reconstruction with the expert community and the public regarding the implementation of the urban planning reform.
It should be noted that during the preparation of the text for the second reading, such consultations were not conducted. However, when it is no longer possible to make changes and address gaps, these consultations have become regular. Their purpose is stated as "clarifying the positions of all stakeholders and identifying differences in perspectives."
"We are ready to listen to and accept proposals from experts and the public to find the best solutions," stated Olexandra Azarkhina, the deputy of Kubrakov, during one of the recent meetings. Azarkhina is actively working with the implementation team of Shuliak's law, Kubrakov, and his deputy, Natalia Kozlovska.
However, when asked by architect Anna Kiriі whether these discussions would have a tangible impact on the content of the already adopted "reform," no answers were provided. Questions regarding the purpose of such events and discussions are often left unanswered. Similarly, questions about the corruption risks of the draft law also go unanswered.
However, the reports typically do not mention these events and stakeholders' comments. Comments can only be found in the "Myths" section regarding #5655 on the government's website. In other words, there is a simulation of discussions involving stakeholders after the final vote in the council, and their comments are considered "mythical."
In addition to actively working on the "implementation" of the unsigned #5655, the CHESNO Movement has also observed attempts to undermine the work of other MPs in developing alternative urban planning reform options.
For instance, in April, an article about the Urban Planning Code disappeared from the "Uryadovyy Kuryer" website the day after its publication. The development of this code serves as an alternative to the #5655 bill. The working group responsible for its development is led by Member of Parliament and Member of the Committee on Organization of State Power, Hanna Bondar ("Servant of the People").
Immediately after the article's removal from the website, CHESNO submitted a written request to the Cabinet of Ministers, which oversees the publication of "Uryadovyy Kuryer," asking for clarification on the reasons for its removal. A month later, a response was received stating that the article had been taken down for further revision. Subsequent inquiries regarding the estimated timeline for the article's return to public access have yet to receive a response.
Furthermore, during events related to the "implementation" of #5655, Olena Shulyak made ironic and derogatory remarks about the processes within the working group responsible for creating the Urban Planning Code. Such behavior is deemed unacceptable by the chairperson of the relevant committee.
"I wish my colleagues working on the Urban Planning Code all the best. They've made tremendous progress already; they even created a Facebook page and a WhatsApp chat," commented Shulyak ironically during the discussion of alternative urban planning reforms.
This is not the first time the committee chairperson has allowed herself to evaluate work processes or colleagues in a derogatory manner. During one of the recent sessions, she engaged in a conflict with all committee members when she essentially stated that she did not consider it appropriate to discuss legislative initiatives in the committee that Kubrakov did not support.
On the agenda of the committee meeting on June 22, Shulyak proposed a change to the composition of the working group responsible for the Urban Planning Code.
"In addition to myself as the head, there are five deputy members in this working group. However, the changes were not discussed or agreed upon with us. That's why they were not supported during the meeting. During the establishment of the working group, we sent invitations to all expert institutions, and there was ample time to participate. However, now, changing the working group's membership would require scheduling meetings and establishing rules," stated Hanna Bondar, the head of the working group responsible for developing the Urban Planning Code, in a comment to CHESNO.
The majority of committee members did not support Shulyak's initiative, and this is not the first vote that indicates the loss of influence of the committee chair, who is also the leader of the pro-government party within the committee.
"I abstain and ask you, Ms. Olena, to finally talk to Hanna (Bondar). Another live scandal is not good; we don't need it, thank you," stated Vitaliy Bezghin ("Servant of the People") during the voting.
Notably, representatives of the former Opposition Platform - For Life party supported Shulyak's proposal, including Dmytro Isaenko, who was recently handed a suspicion notice, and Volodymyr Kal'tsev. Only with this former Opposition Platform - For Life representatives' votes could the controversial bill pass the second reading. Shulyak referred to her cooperation with them as "constructive."
Representatives of "Servant of the People," Oleksandr Kachura and Ihor Vasilyev, also voted in favor.
A similar situation occurred in the same committee under the chairmanship of Andriy Klochko ("Servant of the People"), who ultimately faced a vote of no confidence.
Despite all attempts to convince society and the President of the necessity of signing bill No. 5655, its risks are recognized not only by Ukrainian society but also by European partners. It is critically important for them to prevent abuses and corruption during reconstruction. For Ukrainians, it is also essential to document the actions of all those involved in lobbying for dubious reforms, abusing governmental powers, and negatively impacting the country's image. The amount of resources the government receives for post-war reconstruction depends on this.
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