First-ever lawmaker charged with multiple voting in parliament
For the first time in the history of Ukraine, a lawmaker was charged with multiple voting in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova announced on Feb. 12.
Venediktova didn’t disclose the lawmaker’s name.
Ukrainian media outlet RBK, citing its sources, reported that the alleged culprit is Vladyslav Poliak, a lawmaker from the 20-member Dovira (Trust) group in parliament. He was elected in a district in Zakarpattia Oblast.
In a statement on Facebook, Dovira group didn’t confirm or deny this information but cited the presumption of innocence.
If found guilty, the charged lawmaker faces a fine of Hr 51,000-85,000, or up to $3,000.
According to Venediktova, the lawmaker repeatedly used his colleague’s personal card to vote in his stead to amend a bill that created a market for agricultural land. It was one of the most important pieces of legislation adopted by the parliament in 2020.
The lawmaker had been summoned to the Prosecutor General’s Office on Feb. 11 to be officially charged, but he didn’t show up. The officials sent a notice of suspicion to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, to the lawmaker’s place of residence, to his e-mail and in other ways.
Multiple voting, known in Ukraine as “knopkodavstvo” (“button pushing”) is a widespread violation in the Ukrainian parliament.
To vote, Ukrainian lawmakers must insert their personal cards in the electronic systems at their assigned seats in the parliament, and then push the button. Often, when lawmakers are absent, their colleagues use their card to vote in their place. In the past, some lawmakers were spotted voting for up to a dozen of their absent peers.
A year ago, Chesno, a civil movement monitoring the integrity of government officials, published footage showing Poliak voting for another lawmaker. On the same day, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced that it had initiated criminal proceedings against an unnamed lawmaker for committing fraud while voting in parliament.
Chesno regularly publishes names and evidence of button pushing by lawmakers.
A year ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law, imposing Hr 51,000-85,000 in fines for non-personal voting in the parliament.