On February 4, the draft law № 7025 “On Self-Regulatory Organizations” was registered in the Verkhovna Rada. The draft law will effectively allow the head of the Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) Lidia Izovitova and other leaders of the UNBA’s "self-government" to be re-elected indefinitely. The initiators of the draft law are the MPs from the "Sluha Narodu", “OPZZH” and "Batkivshchyna" factions. Among the authors are Antonina Slavytska, the civilian wife of the infamous Head of the DACK Pavlo Vovk, Mykola Tyshchenko, one of the leaders of the "Sluha Narodu" party, and Illia Kiva, a member of Parliament.
The draft law proposes to remove from the law “On Attorneyship” the provision that the same person may not be elected Head of the UNBA for more than two consecutive terms. Similar changes are proposed for the heads of other bodies of attorney’s self-government. Lidia Izovitova was first elected as the Head of the UNBA in 2012, and the second time in 2017, so under the current law she is not able to run for office for the third time. Accordingly, the adoption of the draft law will allow Izovitova to re-elect and maintain her monopoly influence in the legal profession and its current state.
"Delegates to the key judicial governance body - the High Council of Justice - are elected, among others, by the Congress of Attorneys of Ukraine, which is greatly influenced by the Ukrainian National Bar Association. We already know well the former delegates from the Congress - the opponent of judicial reform Oleksiy Malovatsky and the "big fish" Pavlo Hrechkivsky, appointed for the second time in a row contrary to the Constitution. When they ran away from being vetted by the Ethics Council, Izovitova set up a special Committee on Independence of Justice in the Association for them. Her endless presidency of the Bar Association will mean not only the preservation of the deplorable state - corruption and extortion, but also the threat to judicial reform by maintaining the maximum influence of opponents of change.”
- said Mykhailo Zhernakov, the Chair of the board of the DEJURE Foundation.
Lidia Izovitova recently appointed the former HCJ member Oleksiy Malovatsky as Head of the UNBA Committee on Independence of Justice. He is known for his unconstitutional appointment and unexplained income. Pavlo Hrechkivskyi, who was exposed for bribery and was mentioned on “Vovk’s tapes”, became his deputy.
Lidia Izovitova has been a member of the High Council of Justice since 1998, including during Yanukovych's presidency. Lidia Izovitova's daughter Olena Izovitova-Vakim received an opinion of the PIC on non-compliance with the criteria of integrity and professional ethics.
In June 2015, at the Supreme Court of Ukraine, Andriy Vyshnevskyi, Director of the Free Legal Aid Coordination Center, made a report at the panel “Attorneyship and Free Legal Aid: Ways to Reform”. In his presentation, he criticized the state of the attorneyship, reported on corruption in the activities of attorneys and expressed the following views:
- "The main risk of citizens exercising their constitutional right to free legal aid is the deplorable state of the Ukrainian attorneyship";
- "If the attorneyship is not reformed as soon as possible in accordance with the principles and standards of the Council of Europe, it could become a brake on the implementation of judicial reform".
After that, the Head of the National Bar Association of Ukraine Lidia Izovitova complained that such statements of Andriy Vyshnevsky are a violation of the rules of the attorney’s ethics. Other reputable organizations, such as the Ukrainian Bar Association, the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, and the International Commission of Lawyers, called it harassment for criticism. However, Vyshnevsky was deprived of his attorney’s certificate by a decision of the Qualification and Disciplinary Commission of the Kyiv Region attorneyship.
Andriy Vyshnevsky appealed against this decision to the DACK. The lawsuit was considered by judge Pohribnichenko, who on March 15, 2016, upheld the decision to deprive him of his right to practice law. On March 14, 2018, the Supreme Court declared illegal and overturned both the court's decision and the decision of the Qualification and Disciplinary Commission of the Kyiv Region attorneyship, and restored Andriy Vyshnevsky's status as an attorney.