Hundreds of Ukrainians demonstrated in Kyiv on Thursday in support of a controversial law that aims to cleanse the new government of any remnants of the past.
The so-called “lustration” law voted last September prohibits officials who were loyal to former president Viktor Yanukovych from being appointed to government positions for up to 10 years.
The pro-Russian opposition supporting Yanukovych has challenged the law before the country’s Constitutional Court.
“There are some provisions in this law that violate the Ukrainian Constitution,” said Vasyl Nimchenko, MP of the “Opposition Bloc” party. “The lustration law does not take into account the core principle of our Constitution, which is the presumption of innocence.”
Supporters of the purge gathered outside the Constitutional Court as it began to review the divisive bill.
Ukraine’s new pro-European government introduced the law as part of a pledge to rid the country of corruption.
About 1 million officials must be screened under the legislation, from former members of government to police officers and judges.
“Unfortunately, some of the Constitutional Court’s judges have a real incentive to abolish the law because according to this law, these judges must also be purged,” said Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko.
However, the wheels of the law are already in motion. Since it took effect last October, some 500 officials from the past regime have been dismissed and another 1,500 have stepped down.