Andrii Kostin, a lawyer and the chairman of the Legal Policy Committee of the Verkhovna Rada, was appointed Prosecutor General of Ukraine. This decision was supported by 299 members of parliament. What is known about the new Prosecutor General, and what questions do public activists have for him?
Who the new Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin is
Andrii Kostin, 49, was born in Odesa and later earned a law degree from Odesa I.I. Mechnykov National University.
He worked as a lawyer in law firms before creating his own one. Now Kistin is a director of the Pravo law firm.
Kistin is Vice Chair of the Council of the Bar of the Odesa Region and Deputy Chair of the Presidium of the Regional Ваг of Оdesa. He is also a member of the board of the Odessa Diplomatic Club.
Kostin’s political career started in 2010, when he was elected a member of the Odesa City Council, being nominated by Arsenii Yatseniuk’s Front Zmin party. In 2019, he became a member of the Verkhovna Rada, being on the list of the Servant of the People party.
In addition to the Committee on Legal Policy, Kostin was also Chairman of the Subcommittee on Implementation of Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group at the negotiations with Russia in Istanbul.
Interestingly, when the recently dismissed Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova was in parliament, Kostin was her deputy in the Committee on Legal Policy.
Candidacy for Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor and elections in occupied Donbas territories
It’s also interesting that Kostin aspired to the position of Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. previously wrote why the SAPO head could not be appointed yet.
However, Kostin didn’t qualify for the competition by the decision of international experts. Non-governmental organizations like the Anti-Corruption Action Center, DEJURE Foundation, Automaidan, and Transparency International Ukraine didn’t recommend him as a candidate for the position.
According to the media, the lawyer politician owes his seat in parliament to a personal recommendation from Andrii Yermak.
Among the issues Kostin had to discuss in Istanbul during negotiations with Russia were elections in the temporarily occupied Donbas territories. At that time, Yermak insisted that such elections could be held provided that necessary security measures were taken, while Kostin argued that a one-time resolution would be enough and that there was no problem with holding the elections "to the standards of democracy".
Later, Kostin recognized that a local government can be elected in Donbas only after Russia withdraws its troops and Ukraine obtains control over the state border.
The Ukrainian delegate also advocated for the idea of demining (ports, in particular) and the Normandy Format of negotiations with the Kremlin, arguing that the people of Ukraine wanted peace.
Judicial reform and war with ROSHEN
Not less significantly, Kostin was responsible for the implementation of judicial reform in Ukraine, and it was under his chair in the Committee for Legal Policy when this process was delayed and stalled (Ukraine is short of about 2 thousand judges today).
According to Mykhailo Zhernakov, Chair of the Board of DEJURE Foundation, Kostin was "the main driver in creating a manipulable High Qualification Commission of Judges."
"It was he who lobbied amendments that eliminated any influence of independent experts on the selection of candidates to the Qualification Commission," the expert explained.
Moreover, in 2021, Kostin, together with the other 152 MPs, signed a petition to Zelenskyy asking to impose sanctions on ROSHEN for its work in Russia (it should be noted that the Lipetsk factory that belonged to Petro Poroshenko seized its work in 2017).
Another interesting case is the liquidation of the "most honest" court in Kyiv, the Kyiv District Administrative Court (which, for instance, ruled the selection of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor not controlled by the President’s Office as invalid).
The President’s draft law on the liquidation of this court was filed with the Committee on Legal Policy more than a year ago but was never put forward for consideration.
In turn, Kostin says that only 9 out of 22 members of the Committee voted to put the draft law forward for consideration. However, since the bill was submitted as urgent, it was supposed to have been considered long ago.
Not only public activists, but opposition MPs like Yaroslav Yurchyshyn (Holos) call Kostin Yermak’s man.
"What is it indicative of? On the one hand, the President’s Office understands that they won’t be able to have Tatarov’s avatar as Prosecutor General. But in fact, it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. And it’s quite feasible to secure parliamentary support for this half a dozen. Because he’s of their own kind, another "people’s servant". As well as another Yermak’s man and the President’s soldier," he wrote on Facebook, commenting on the appointment plans.
In his interview with The Babel, Yermak confirmed his friendship with Andrii Kostin, although indirectly:
"Of course, I know many people in the party. Mykola Tyshchenko is my friend, I’m his son’s godfather. I know Halyna Tretiakova and Andrii Kostin. I’m very keen on my friends’ trust."
Manipulations with Zakarpattia land plots and Crimea
Iryna Dyrdina, Andrii Kostin’s assistant in parliament and ex-director of CTR law firm, allegedly took part in manipulations with land plots in Zakarpattia, according to investigative journalists from the Skhemy program.
The media reports that to carry out these manipulations, she conspired with Serhii Lovochkin and Yulia Lovochkina. The land plots have been seized, and the NABU is investigating the embezzlement of budgetary funds from the State Agency for Investments and National Projects of Ukraine.
Kostin was also accused of visiting the annexed Crimea, however, he explained that he went to visit his doctor there.
It’s also interesting that Kostin voted to abolish the Law on Complete Secondary Education, which prohibits schools from teaching in Russian.