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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

The United States has highlighted the importance of establishing an independent anticorruption court in Ukraine as it called on Kyiv to implement comprehensive reforms and put an end to systematic corruption in the country.

In a statement issued on June 5, the U.S. State Department said, “The establishment of a genuinely independent anticorruption court is the most important, immediate step the government can take to meet those demands and roll back corruption that continues to threaten Ukraine’s national security, prosperity, and democratic development.”

The statement points out that the United States fully supports the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which will determine whether a new law establishing the court is consistent with Ukraine’s commitments under its IMF program.

“We agree with the IMF that any legislation establishing an anticorruption court must include a central role for a council of international experts to ensure the selection of qualified judges,” the statement says.

The bill to create an anticorruption court was approved by Ukraine’s parliament in its first reading on March 1, and President Petro Poroshenko said it should win final approval before spring ends.

The legislation has been demanded by protest groups and international institutions that provide Ukraine with financial support.

In March, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told Poroshenko in Kyiv that establishing an independent anticorruption court would "help the business environment and the investment climate.”

However, some reformists in Ukraine and backers in Europe have said the bill in its current form does not meet standards set by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, a group of independent experts in constitutional law, and the requirements of the IMF.

The IMF has called the establishment of an anticorruption court a "benchmark" of Ukraine's progress toward Western legal standards and has said it would help ease the release of its loans in the future.

OSCE media-freedom representative Harlem Desir (file photo)

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)'s media freedom representative has expressed concern over an Internet post in which he said a Ukrainian official accused several journalists and other public figures of being traitors.

"The publishing of a list, including names of journalists, accusing them of being traitors is unacceptable and dangerous," an OSCE statement on June 5 quoted media-freedom envoy Harlem Desir as saying in a letter to the Ukrainian authorities.

"This can have serious repercussions for the safety of journalists," Desir wrote. "I strongly encourage the authorities to intervene and suspend such practices, especially those undertaken by government officials, given the sensitive and difficult environment in Ukraine at the moment."

The rebuke referred to a Facebook post in which Larysa Sarhan, a spokeswoman for Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko, listed about 25 people and included remarks that in some cases contained criticism of the state regarding journalists' safety and alleged impunity for crimes against media.

Sarhan's post and the OSCE representative's criticism came amid controversy over the faked killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko in Kyiv on May 29.

The list Sarhan posted included journalist Myroslava Gongadze, National Union of Journalists Chairman Serhiy Tomilenko, and former Odesa region Governor Mikheil Saakashvili, who is a vocal foe of President Petro Poroshenko's government.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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