KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine faced a new political crisis Friday as the president moved to dissolve the nation's top court following its decision to freeze the country's anti-corruption reforms.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's action came after the Constitutional Court ruled to annul key parts of anti-corruption legislation that Ukraine approved under persistent Western demands.
The court declared public access to officials' income declarations unconstitutional and also outlawed criminal punishment for providing false income information.
The judges also ruled to strip the National Anti-Corruption Agency of most of its key powers.
Zelenskiy, a former comedian without prior political experience, was elected in April 2019 on promises to uproot endemic corruption. He sharply criticized the court's ruling, warning that it could cost the country Western support.
“We will have no money, no support,” the president said during a meeting with officials. “We will have a big hole in the state budget, and, more importantly, we don't know what kind of surprise the Constitutional Court will present for us tomorrow.”
He argued that the Constitutional Court's ruling lacked a valid legal basis and violated legal procedures.
The court's decision also drew a negative reaction from the ambassadors of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations.
“The G7 Ambassadors are alarmed by efforts to undo the anti-corruption reforms that followed the Revolution of Dignity,” they said in a statement, referring to the 2014 upheaval that led to the ouster of one of Zelenskiy's predecessors. “We stand with the Ukrainian people as they continue to fight to realize their aspiration of a prosperous and democratic Ukraine. Too much progress has been made. Ukraine must not go back to the past.”
The Constitutional Court's ruling was made on appeal from the Opposition Platform for Life, a pro-Russia political grouping that has links with several top tycoons.
Several hundred protesters rallied outside the court building Friday, demanding the judges' ouster.