Ukraine moves to push through anti-corruption laws before election

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Ukraine moves to push through anti-corruption laws before election

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A package of anti-corruption legislation passed its first reading in Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday as the pro-Western government moved to clean up public life and boost its bid to join mainstream Europe.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the top levels of government would be targeted under the proposed new laws.

“The ‘big fish’ have to be caught,” he said.

“We will get real information about the owners of property, land and businesses,” Yatsenyuk told the chamber.

“This will give us a real picture of who really owns what in Ukraine.”

Corruption and cronyism have been a feature of Ukrainian life since independence, reaching a peak under now ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, whose allies and family members built business empires.

Supporters of the clean-up gathered outside parliament to champion changes also demanded by the IMF in helping Kyiv rebuild its shattered economy.

Campaigners brought tomatoes to throw at portraits of deputies who failed to show up for Tuesday’s vote or didn’t support the bill.

Fearing the legislation could be watered down, Oleksiy Khmara of Transparency International Ukraine said: “MPs are not ready yet to take such a decisive step. They will try to make some deals, bring some changes into the text which will make it worse. So I’d call this vote a half-victory,”

The government wants to ease public discontent before an election this month from which it wants backing for its plan to end a pro-Russian separatist rebellion.