The impactive routine of the almost "liquidated court".
Dancing to Kremlin's tune: anti-Ukrainian decisions of the DACK
The District Administrative Court of Kyiv (the DACK) recently began proceedings in which the fugitive ex-president Viktor Yanukovych was appealing against his dismissal in 2014. By law, the appeal period in such cases is six months, but it did not stop the DACK after eight years - just when Russia's hybrid war against Ukraine reached another peak. However, the actions of this court are not surprising when it comes to its judges who make decisions in the name of Ukraine.

President Zelensky introduced an urgent draft law to liquidate the DACK on April 13, 2021, in response to a petition that garnered 25,000 signatures and another scandal involving judges' safes full of cash. In addition, Volodymyr Zelensky introduced to the Parliament another draft law to reduce the powers of the DACK and transfer a part of its powers to the Supreme Court. Both projects are included in the agenda of the session, but the consideration in the Parliamentary Legal Committee headed by Andriy Kostin did not take place.

At a press conference on November 26, Volodymyr Zelensky called the slippage of the draft law on the liquidation a "chess game": the voting on it would allegedly divide the Parliament and make it impossible to pass laws on judicial reform. The Speaker of Parliament, Ruslan Stefanchuk, confirmed this opinion. He said, "the MPs focused on addressing more important issues." Thus, for the tenth month in a row, the MPs have been unable to fulfil the people's will, and the DACK continues to openly grind out anti-Ukrainian decisions that level institutions, block Ukraine's transformation and back up Russian narratives. But most importantly, they send an unequivocal signal that corruption and arbitrariness in the judiciary are safe.
The District Administrative Court of Kyiv hears cases where the plaintiff or defendant is a subject of national authority. It can be any body: the Antimonopoly Committee, the National Bank, ministries and central executive bodies, whose powers extend to the whole of Ukraine.
This makes the DACK extremely influential: a team led by the infamous Pavlo Vovk can easily overturn a Cabinet decision if it is against someone's private interests and remove or reinstate any high-ranking official. The DACK has made many "small" decisions that have secured the interests of "big" people, such as the payment of a billion hryvnias from Privatbank to the Surkis brothers and decisions in the interests of Ivanyushchenko and Stavytsky. However, the court not only helps corruption cases through court decisions. Some of the decisions of the DACK are openly pro-Russian, which threatens national security and effective attempts to counter Russian influence, especially now, in the face of increasing threats from the Russian Federation. Earlier, the DEJURE Foundation collected the files of the 49 DACK judges. In this article, we will give their most resonant decisions.
Prohibition and dispersal of the Maidan
The DACK judge Viktor Danylyshyn was the first to ban the erection of tents and small architectural forms on Independence Square, Khreshchatyk and European Square from November 22, 2013, to January 7, 2014.

On the night of November 25, 2013, protesters in the European Square were informed about the ban imposed by the decision of the DACK. As this decision was not implemented, law enforcement officers began opening the first criminal cases and arresting activists. The illegality of this court decision was established on January 23, 2014, by the Kyiv Administrative Court of Appeal. Judges of the DACK and ex-spouses Valery and Anna Kuzmenko banned mass events in the centre of Kyiv later on.

On November 30, 2013, at 11:55 pm, the judge of the DACK Bohdan Sanin forbade any individuals to gather peacefully on Independence Square, Khreshchatyk and all central streets of Kyiv for the period from December 1, 2013, to January 7, 2014. With this decision, he offended millions of people who came to the Maidan because of the beating of students near the Independence Monument. As early as December 9, 2013, Sanin's colleague, judge Yevhen Ablov, ordered Berkut to disperse Maidan as soon as possible. In pursuance of this decision, Berkut fighters made an unsuccessful attempt to storm the Maidan on the night of December 10-11, 2013. The High Administrative Court later overturned Sanin's decision as illegal. Sanin and Ablov were to be released for these actions, but both escaped punishment. According to NABU records, Pavlo Vovk was involved in their defence, influencing the High Council of Justice (the HCJ) members.
Stopping the transition of the army to a new food system according to NATO standards
In July 2019, the judge of the DACK Alyona Mazur, on the claim of a private individual - a participant in food tenders of the Ministry suspended the order of the Ministry of Defense on the transition to food under the new system by securing the claim.

For a long time, the reform, which provided for the transition to a new, better nutrition system for the Ukrainian army according to the catalogue, which contained 409 types of products to choose from (a similar system is used in almost all NATO armies) was blocked. The old Soviet-style food system that had been in effect until then had provoked much criticism from the military. The decision of the DACK also blocked the overhaul (or construction) of canteens and the purchase of modern equipment, which provided an opportunity to improve the quality of cooking.

At that time, about 60,000 servicemen in more than 70 military units and educational institutions were already receiving qualitatively different food. In 2019, the transfer of another 284 units with a total number of about 50 thousand persons was planned.

The order was reinstated only in March 2020, when the DACK dismissed the claim on the merits.
Abolition of the new Ukrainian spelling
On January 28, 2021, the DACK repealed a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers introducing a new Ukrainian spelling. The reason is that the Cabinet of Ministers has no right to change the spelling because it is not its competence. The plaintiff in the case was a public organization of Rostislav Kravets - a "manual" lawyer of the DACK, recorded on "Vovk's tapes". On May 11, the Court of Appeal overturned the DACK decision. The process of introducing new rules of the Ukrainian language was suspended for almost four months.

The spelling introduced a number of changes, in particular, abolished the norms introduced into the Ukrainian language in Soviet times as a result of the policy of Russification.
Revision of history textbooks
On January 21, 2020, the DACK ordered the Ministry of Education and Science to revise the events of the Revolution of Dignity in history textbooks. The court upheld the lawsuit of Andriy Portnov, the scandalous deputy Head of the Yanukovych-era Presidential Administration and the creator of the dependent judiciary.

According to the lawsuit, Portnov, in particular, stressed that the statement "... on January 22, 2014, the Day of Unity of Ukraine, Berkut snipers shot dead five Euromaidan activists on Hrushevskoho Street" was not confirmed by a court decision. Portnov also believed that the information about Euromaidan was covered "unilaterally, with the fabrication of data and facts" and "distorts real historical events".

Following the decision of the DACK, the Ministry of Education was to abolish the stamp "Recommended by the Ministry of Education and Science" in a number of textbooks on the history of Ukraine for 5th and 11th grades and revise them. In addition, the Ministry of Education and Science was obliged to announce a competition for the selection of new textbooks, as well as their review for "complete, accurate and objective information".

On April 20, 2020, the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the DACK, rejecting Portnov's anti-Ukrainian narrative.
Abolition of commemorative events of Ukrainian figures
The District Administrative Court of Kyiv upheld another lawsuit filed by Portnov that banned the celebration of the anniversaries of eight members of the national liberation movement during World War II. The decision concerned Andriy Melnyk, the head of the OUN leadership, Colonel of the Ukrainian State Army, Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky's adjutant Ivan Poltavets-Ostryanytsia, UPA colonels Vasyl Levkovych, Vasyl Sydor and Vasyl Halasa, Ukrainian writers Yuriy Lypa and Ulas Samchuk, as well as Ukrainian scientist and editor of the "Encyclopedia of Ukrainian Studies" Volodymyr Kubiyovych.

Portnov asked to recognize that the decisions of the Kyiv City Council to celebrate the anniversaries of these figures in Kyiv were illegal, "distort the essence of the national idea", and contradicted the law condemning the Nazi regime. On January 19, 2021, the DACK approved this by banning celebrations ex post facto. The Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the DACK.
Renaming the Bandera avenue back to Moskovsky (Moscow) avenue
In February 2021, the DACK overturned the decision of the Kyiv City Council to rename a number of decommunized Kyiv streets. After the start of decommunization, the Kyiv City Council renamed a number of streets named after communist figures. Then Moskovsky Avenue became Bandera Avenue, Bauman Street became Janusz Korczak Street (Shevchenkivskyi District), Kutuzov Street became General Almazov Street, Suvorova Street became Mykhailo Omelyanovich-Pavlenko Street, and Kutuzov Lane became Yevhen Hutsal Lane. The DACK cancelled the renaming of the aforementioned streets. The DACK "loved" Stepan Bandera Avenue the most - the first attempt to return the avenue to its former name took place in 2019 and ended with the decision of the Court of Appeals to keep Bandera Avenue.

On April 22, 2021, the Court of Appeals once again recognized the legal renaming of Moskovsky Avenue to Stepan Bandera Avenue, as well as four other streets in Kyiv.
Suspension of renaming of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate
In 2019, the DACK considered the lawsuit of Oleksandr Dolzhenkov, the MP of the "Opposition Bloc", and saved the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate from being renamed.

The Kyiv metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, headed by Onufriy, does not belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church united after Tomos, but is a subdivision of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2018, the Verkhovna Rada passed the law2662-VIII, which required the Kyiv Metropolitanate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and other organizations affiliated with the Moscow Patriarchate to indicate their affiliation with the Russian Orthodox Church. A similar decree on the renaming of a number of religious organizations to clearly inform believers about their origins in Russia was issued by the Ministry of Culture. These organizations appealed the order of the Ministry of Culture to the DACK.

Currently, the case is not moving - the DACK has just decided to secure the lawsuit. But the UOC-MP may not care either — until the final decision is made, Vovk's court suspended the renaming.

The decision of the DACK judges could be influenced by personal dislike for the adoption of the Tomos on Autocephaly, which was to unite the UOC-Kyiv Patriarchate, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the UOC-Moscow Patriarchate into a single Orthodox Church of Ukraine. According to Slidstvo.Info journalists, one of the judges, because of his hostility to the idea of Tomos, almost quarrelled with a Greek guide during a trip to Athos. After the decision to suspend the renaming of the UOC-MP, the judges of the DACK visited the Metropolitan of the UOC-MP Onufriy.
Lifting the ban on Russian actor Dobronravov and the ban on showing "Svaty"
In March 2017, the Kyiv District Administrative Court lifted the ban of the Security Service of Ukraine on Russian actor Fedor Dobronravov's entry into Ukraine, satisfying the claim of 1 + 1 studio and Kinokvartal LLC (subordinated to Zelensky's Kvartal 95). The DACK also lifted the ban on showing the TV series "Svaty", which was created by the studio "Kvartal 95".

Dobronravov publicly supported the annexation of Crimea by Russia and visited the occupied peninsula. Such a decision was a "gift" to Zelensky from the DACK - said Pavlo Vovk on the recordings of conversations in the District Administrative Court of Kyiv.
Blocking the work of Ulyana Suprun and reinstatement of Roman Nasirov
The DACK judge Serhiy Karakashyan is known for his decisions to block high-ranking reformers and reinstate corruption suspects. In 2019, the judge banned the acting Minister of Health of Ukraine, Ulyana Suprun, to take any action aimed at exercising the powers of the Minister of Health of Ukraine, which blocked the work of the Ministry. As a result, the delivery of a large consignment of essential medicines through the territory of Ukraine was threatened. On March 23, 2020, the Supreme Court declared the decision illegal and overturned it.

A year earlier, Karakashyan was a member of the panel of judges which reinstated Roman Nasirov, Head of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine, who was dismissed after the opening of criminal proceedings. The reason for such a decision was the alleged failure to prove the circumstances of Nasirov's dual citizenship and violation of the procedure for his dismissal. In deciding to reinstate Nasirov, the court ignored the evidence provided by the former Head of the SFS of British citizenship, provided directly by the British Embassy. The case is pending before the Supreme Court.

In addition, the panel of judges of the DACK chaired by Yevhen Ablov in 2017 satisfied Nasirov's lawsuit, by which he wanted to prove by circumventing the criminal case that he allegedly had the right to commit acts that NABU considered criminal. In fact, to prove that the head of the SFS should not check what he signs. The Supreme Court later overturned the ruling because the DACK had no right to hear the case at all.

Among other "achievements" of DACK judges are many cancellations - the nationalization of Privatbank, the transition of the Ukrainian army to new food standards, the responsibility of experts in the Sheremet case for using non-existent expert methods, the decision to appoint Artem Sytnyk Director of NABU. In addition, the DACK allowed the construction in the Protasiv Yar (Protasiv ravine) and banned rallies against the construction in Hostynny Dvir; reinstated the uncertified and dismissed Deputy Head of the Main Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Hryhoriy Mamka, who in 2019 became the MP from the Opposition Platform - For Life; legitimized the scheme of "Avakov's backpacks"; excluded the European moose from the Red Book; saved the property of Yanukovych-fugitive ex-minister Oleksandr Klymenko. This list is almost endless and will obviously continue to grow.
Blocking the competition to the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office
On the eve of the New Year, the DACK presented a new gift to Ukrainians under the Christmas tree. By a decision on December 20, just before the announcement of the winner of the competition for the chairman of the SAPO, judge Ohurtsov, suspected of seizing state power, cancelled the Rules of procedure of the Competition Commission. Thus, the judge undermined not only the result of the competition but also the strength of Ukraine's cooperation with the main security ally - the United States. At a meeting with Biden on September 1, Zelensky signed a promise to quickly select the anti-corruption prosecutor in line with international best practices. As of now, the name of the Head of the SAPO has not been approved yet - one of the reasons the Ukrainian members of the Competition Commission pointed out was the decision of the DACK.
Even if such decisions of the DACK are overturned in an appeal or cassation (which is not always the case), news of their adoption plays in favour of anti-Ukrainian narratives, which undoubtedly harms Ukraine in the eighth year of the hybrid war with Russia.
The liquidation of the DACK is an indisputably necessary step, which is shamefully delayed by the authorities. It should be borne in mind that the liquidation of the court does not mean the automatic dismissal of judges who have made shameful illegal decisions. The question of the fate of DACK judges should be decided either separately by the procedure provided by the law on the liquidation or by qualification assessment by the new High Qualification Commission of Judges, the competitive selection for which will begin on February 4. Otherwise, the judges of the DACK can escape by transferring to other courts, where they will continue to grind out decisions in the name of Ukraine.

In addition, it is extremely important to remove some of the powers from the DACK and transfer them to the Supreme Court, which is Ukraine's commitment to the IMF. It is about the authority of the DACK to overturn the decisions of the central government bodies, which make the court so influential. The Presidential draft law currently takes away only part of its powers and needs to be finalized - the list of such cases needs to be significantly expanded.

And, of course, criminal proceedings against judges must be brought to a logical end so that those guilty of corruption and attempts to seize power are punished fairly. This is the only way to stop the anti-Ukrainian influence of the DACK and protect society from retaliation in favour of the aggressor.
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