In May, 2015 a coalition “Transparent Councils” created by the Eidos Centre started working. The main objective of the coalition is to make local councils enforce the anti-corruption norms adopted by the Verkhovna Rada, the execution of which is mandatory on the territory of Ukraine.
In summer, the activists of the “Transparent Councils” coalition checked 56 city and regional councils to see if they execute the norms of six laws in force, aimed at fighting corruption. Some of them were adopted after the Revolution of Dignity, while others were adopted three-four years ago.
As it turned out, not a single council had managed to implement at least 50% of norms required by law. Regional councils showed similar results.
It became clear that deputies couldn’t care less about the executions of Laws of Ukraine. They were simply sabotaging the fight against corruption. Embezzlement of land and common resources, abuse of power, stealing and favouritism – all these features of the pre-revolution regime won’t disappear unless rules of the game are changed for local politicians.
The activists developed recommendations for each of the 56 pilot councils. The offered recommendations concerned allowing citizens to be present at the sessions of councils and committees, at promulgations of the decisions of councils and executive boards. The changes also dealt with the publication procedures for councils’ draft decisions, accountability of deputies, preventing conflicts of interest, procedures for initiation of public hearings, local initiatives etc.
In September-October of 2015, right before the elections, the coalition activists urged the political parties to sign a memorandum promising that after being elected they would implement the mandatory anti-corruption norms in councils. Six parties signed the memorandum on the all-Ukrainian level; most of the others have joined it on the local level.
After the elections in regional administrative centres, the coalition experts started working at changing the procedures of city and regional councils. The recommendations were at least partially taken into account in most cities. The average council transparency has increased by 32%, whereas Vinnytsya regional council has enacted 100% of recommendations, Ternopil city council – 81%. Some councils, like Odesa and Yaremche, have managed to increase their transparency from 0% to 69% and 61% respectively (according to the coalition standards).
In those regions, where the coalition has been operating, the average increase is: 1) access to plenary sessions – by 50-70%; 2) access to committee sessions – by 30-40%; 3) access to commission sessions – by 35-45%; 4) announcements of council decisions – by 45-55%; 5) announcements of commission protocols – by 50-60% etc.
The coalition was joined by participants from eleven regions. They are inspecting local councils on a voluntary basis and, together with the Centre experts, they provide recommendations on transparency and accountability.
The coalition keeps working and negotiating with deputies on the changes to council regulations etc.
In 2016, Ivano-Frankivsk became the first city where the coalition activists were demanding the implementation of anti-corruption legislation by the local council in court.