After the collapse of the USSR, the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the main element of which was militia, in fact, did not undergo significant changes from 1991 until 2014. The biggest problem was the repressive activity and the paramilitary format of the militia, and not the law enforcement activity and civil format, as in the civilized world. The other problem was that the Ministry of Internal Affairs remained an interdepartmental monster, which combined the functions starting from the migration service and to the fire department, which undoubtedly was a Post-Soviet rudiment. The state wanted to control every step of a citizen and tried to centralize as much as possible of the governance of society in several huge enforcement bodies. In addition, this situation has led to duplication of many functions between the various structural units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the staff overages.
Tellingly, by 2014, the militia continued to be guided by the Law “On the Militia”, which was adopted in 1990, during the Soviet times. In addition, the structure and number of militiamen were regulated by a separate Law of Ukraine “On the general structure and size of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine”, the issue of disciplinary proceedings and punishment for violations – by the Law “On the Disciplinary Statute of the Internal Affairs Institutions of Ukraine”.
Besides, there was no depoliticization of this body. Every new Interior Minister became a toy in the hands of the then president. The Ministry of Internal Affairs increasingly began to serve the current authorities, which quickly led to the deprofessionalization and corruptness of the body. Militia turned into a kind of “oprichnina”, which purpose was to keep society in leash to suit the prevailing authorities. All attempts of reforms – which were announced up to 9 times with different ministers – in fact, reduced to the renaming of units or departments, in no way relating the essence of the system. Apparently, the most failed were much-publicized reform over the course of two cadences of the MIA’s head Yuriy Lutsenko in the 2000s, during the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko.
The process of militia degradation took particularly grotesque forms during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych. Events in the town of Vradiyivka, and later in the Independence Square in November 2013 – February 2014, showed that the militia lapsed to the point when it was hard to call it a law enforcement agency anymore. The main symbol of this process was the atrocities of the special division of the militia “Berkut” (now formally disbanded, but renamed) and their final chord – the shooting of unarmed protesters on February 20, 2014. Another evidence of the complete ineffectiveness of law enforcement bodies was the collaboration of a large part of the militia with a Russian aggressor during the annexation of the Crimea and aggression in the Donbass.
Whatever political force came to power, they all used a simple and effective method – constant underfunding of law enforcers, especially in terms of salary. According to experts, at the best times, the Ministry of Internal Affairs was financed by 50-60%, at the worst – by 20-30%. Instead, there was cultivated the so-called “corruption in the law” – that is, the militia had to raise at least half of finances for its functioning by themselves. Consequently, bribery, extortion, and abuse of power have become codified principles of the Ministry of Internal Affairs system. At the same time, the professional level of the MIA as a body of criminal justice was consistently falling every year.
All mentioned above also can be extrapolated to the Security Service of Ukraine, which has not undergone any “deKGBizing”. In addition, it became the object of increased attention of the Russian intelligence services, which actively incorporated into its ranks their agents. Of course, this body became the most politicized of all law enforcement bodies, sometimes acting as political police. The whole tax militia was born and lived with a “birth corrupted trauma”. The Migration Service got used to earning on every issued piece of paper and document. An analog of the FBI of the United States has not yet been created, although this was discussed during the first term of Leonid Kuchma in the mid-1990s. The anti-corruption struggle was spread among all law enforcement agencies, and, in fact, was reduced to the arrest of the “buck passers”. Therefore, the creation of the appropriate body, which had to combine these functions, had become more crucial than ever.
As a result, in 2014, Ukraine had a situation of almost absolute distrust of citizens to their own law enforcement agencies. And after the Revolution of Dignity, they were perceived as enemies.
• The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine still considers itself the successor of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. Created on December 20, 1990. Currently, it is a civil governing body of the law enforcement agency.
• The State Border Guard Service is the central executive body within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which implements the state policy in the field of integral control of the state border.
• The State Migration Service is the central executive body within the Ministry of Internal Affairs system, which implements the state policy in the field of combating illegal migration.
• The State Emergency Service is a central executive body within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which implements the state policy in the field of civil protection of fire safety and emergency protection.
• The National Guard – military formation in the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with the functions of ensuring law and order.
• The Security Service of Ukraine – created on March 25, 1992, a special purpose state law-enforcement paramilitary agency, which guarantees the state security of Ukraine. Subordinated to the President of Ukraine.
• Financial Intelligence Service – a law enforcement organization in the field of protecting the economic security of the state is under formation. The purpose is to counteract economic crimes. It should be subordinated to the Cabinet of Ministers. The successor of Tax Militia.
• National anti-corruption bureau of Ukraine (NABU) – is a law enforcement agency with broad coercive powers, responsible for the prevention, detection, termination, and disclosure of corruption crimes. It was created by the President of Ukraine on April 16, 2015, and headed by Artem Sytnyk. The Bureau investigates corruption cases involving civil servants of “A” category.
Objectives of the reform (according to the Concept of the priority measures of reforming the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Strategy for development of the internal affairs bodies of Ukraine)
• Demilitarization of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
• Reduction of many institutions, units, and services with related tasks and functions;
• Ensuring effective coordination of activities and coordinated interaction between the National Police, the National Guard, the Border Guard Service, the Migration Service, and Emergency Service under the political guidance of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
• Legislative definition of the updated general structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, structure and number, tasks and powers of the bodies of internal affairs and other conditions of their activities, whose priorities are the fulfillment of social service functions;
• De-politicization of the activities of bodies and services subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, their autonomy and optimization;
• Elimination of function duplicates of establishments, departmental enterprises, institutions, and organizations;
• The introduction of a European model of training and advanced training of law enforcement personnel, application of common unified standards of law enforcement training, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of interaction between the internal affairs bodies of different European Union member states;
• Development of effective means and mechanisms for monitoring the activities of the law enforcement agencies and a separate law enforcement officer;
• Increase of public confidence in the activities of the internal affairs bodies, as well as the authority of the internal affairs officers;
• Enhancement of the role of civil society institutions and local self-government bodies, in measures of enforcement of rights and freedoms of the population;
• Establishment of close cooperation with the society and local communities.
Challenges for achieving the goals:
• Full re-certification of personnel;
• Change of management of central and regional departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;
• Reduction of administrative apparatus (city departments);
• Reorganization of the special assignment unit;
• Creation and deployment of patrol police as a full-fledged structure of public order recurrence;
• Formation of a unit for fighting cyber crimes based on new principles;
• Reorganization of the unit for combating economic crimes;
• Liquidation of the unit for combating illicit drug trafficking;
• Creation of an expert service independent of regional and district chiefs vertically, that is, fully subordinated to the minister;
• The reform of the National Guard, which will be completed based on professional requirements and composed solely of volunteers; the transformation of the MIA’s volunteer battalions that emerged in 2014, into professional staff units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or joining of fighters to other MIA’s staff units;
• Creation of municipal militia, with transferred functions of public order protection;
• Wage increase and improvement of the social package for the Interior Ministry staff to reduce corruption risks and encourage the best personnel to serve in the police and departmental services.
Implementation of the reform
According to experts, today it is possible to speak if not about a complete failure, then about the serious slowdown of the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Due to the vague time frames (according to the Concept, the reform should be completed by the end of 2018), many processes were delayed, but the MIA’s management can maneuver, appealing to citizens with references to war and lack of money. In addition, certain pitfalls have not been eliminated at the very beginning. For example, the independence of the head of the National Police from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in personnel matters was not ensured. That is why the head of the National Police still cannot approve the estimates, the structure of the central office, appoint and dismiss heads of regional departments and their deputies, etc. That is, the primary condition of the reform was bungled – the depoliticization of the body.
However, the main problem is a lack of political will to change radically the system of law enforcement and actual sabotage of reform by current law enforcement chiefs. This was repeatedly stressed by the members of the Attestation Commissions at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who was forced to walk out in protest (activists Roman Synytsyn, Kateryna Butko and journalist Olha Khudetska). It is illustrative that the latest news on the “Reform” thematic page on the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs dates from December 2015. Similarly, the only non-active page in the MIA’s structure on the same website is the implementation of the reform. Many experts associate the final slowdown of the reform with the resignation of the Head of the National Police Hatiya Dekhanoidze. At the same time, the MIA’s leadership in the person of the Minister Arsen Avakov repeatedly stated that the reform is implementing in accordance with the adopted concept.
The reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was started in April 2015. The Cabinet recommended 4 key bills for Parliamentary voting – “On the bodies of internal affairs”, “On the National Police”, “On services and service centers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine”, “On Amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine on improving the regulation of relations in the field of ensuring road safety”. During July-August 3 out of 4 documents were approved by the Verkhovna Rada and signed by the Cabinet. The process of police creation was underway during September-October, and finally, on November 7, 2015, the militia turned into police, as a new profile law took the course.
In addition, personnel certification process was launched in autumn 2015. 71,828 police officers passed the competency tests. According to the results of the certification commissions, 4.160 employees were dismissed from the police service due to incompetence. Thus, only 5.8% of the old law enforcement officials were dismissed after the certification process. In addition, according to the ex-head of the National Police, Hatiya Dekhanoidze, the certification was blocked by the courts. Experts also note that the favorite tactics of bypassing attestation and lustration are the transfer of an employee to a similar position in another office. Most of the law enforcement officers involved in crimes against members of EuroMaidan successfully passed the commission.
The investigation of crimes committed by the MIA’s officers during the Revolution of Dignity came to a dead end. This was stated by the head of the Department of Special Investigations of the GPU Serhiy Gorbatyuk in an interview with “Ukrayinska Pravda”. According to him, the half of the “Berkuts” who beat the students on November 30, 2013, continued to work in the police. Moreover, only 10 persons out of the 15,000 law enforcement officers who “passed the Maidan,” testified to the investigators. Most of the “Berkuts” continue to serve in similar departments of separate special detachments of militia under the MIA’s regional departments.
As for progress – the new patrol police was introduced in more than 30 cities, and 12 thousand people work in the new structure in total. Most of them are new employees. In addition, since November 2015, a special force unit KORD has been established in more than ten regions. Also, the process of establishing Service Centers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is underway. The road traffic police are created. The salaries of police officers and the National Guard were significantly increased. The reform of the Migration service was launched and its eventual transfer to the Ministry of Justice is scheduled. The Border Guard Service has increased its numerical strength, received heavy weapons and disposed of its status of a civil service, considering the military conflict with the Russian Federation.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the main body fighting corruption, was formed. Although it is still difficult to determine the result of its work, the fact is that this body began to act vigorously and has already become a significant factor in law enforcement sector. The tax police were disbanded and the next body – the Financial Intelligence Service – should be removed from the MIA’s control and placed under to the Cabinet instead. Although, the process of its creation slowed down due to legal casuistry.
The Department for Combating Organized Crime and the Department for the Suppression of Illegal Drugs Trafficking was disbanded, although it is worth considering the enormous growth of these types of crimes, as stated by the high officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Apparently, most of the innovations were launched at the beginning of the reform. The patrol police became a “spokesmodel” of a new reform, say former members of attestation commissions under the Ministry of Internal Affairs from Public Organization “AvtoMaydan” and Combat-UA. However, the reform did stop there. When you look at what has been done from the stated by the concept, then there is no progress on most points, as evidenced by the expert of the Center for Policy and Legal Reform Oleksandr Banchuk. The key issue with the identification of the police is still not resolved. The system of a single document flow of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has not been created; the system of police education is not reformed, they are still trained at the Soviet by their essence and spirit academies. Although from July 4, 2016, the automatic fixing system for traffic violations with the help of video cameras on the road was launched in the test mode, still it does not operate in a constant mode. The structure and work of the police have not yet been improved and the number of employees has not been reduced. There is a constant manipulation of terms of the reform and their scope. Thus, it can be stated that at present the process of changing the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is close to a deadlock.
As for the reform of the Security Service of Ukraine, it has not begun yet. Although all experts stress the need for this body to concentrate on counter-intelligence and anti-terrorist functions, the SBU’s workflow remains almost unchanged since the pre-war situation.
• On October 20, 2014, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the Concept of Priority Measures for the Reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs System for 2015-2016.
• On April 4, 2015, the Cabinet reviewed and approved 4 bills on the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs: “On the bodies of internal affairs”, “On the National Police”, “On Services and Service Centers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine”, “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on improving the regulation of relations in the field of provision of road-traffic safety “.
• On July 2, 2015, the Verkhovna Rada voted in the second reading on a draft law 2822 “On the National Police”. This bill defines the legal principles of the organization and activities of the National Police of Ukraine, the status of police officers, as well as career structure in the National Police. On July 4, the work of the first patrol police is initiated in Kiev.
• On August 4, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed the law “On the National Police,” and on August 6, the law was published in the parliamentary newspaper “Holos Ukrayiny.” The law came into force as of three months following the day of publication.
• On September 2, 2015, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine by resolution established a central executive body – the National Police of Ukraine, subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. After the creation of the National Police as a separate body, the MIA performs the functions of political governance, political coordination and, to a certain extent, assuring day-to-day operations of this body. That is, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has turned from the Ministry of Militia to a civilian body. An actual division of the National Police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs takes place.
• On September 16, 2015, the Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated that the Cabinet of Ministers passed a decision on liquidation of all territorial units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and in their place, the territorial units of the National Police will be established.
• On November 7, 2015, the Law of Ukraine “On National Police” and the Regulations on the National Police, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on October 28, 2015, entered into force. From that day on, the militia in Ukraine officially ceased to exist.