On March 5, the peaceful protest, announced by the Trade Union of PJSC Ukrnafta, took place near the High Council of Justice. Over 1,000 Ukrnafta employees from different regions where Ukrnafta is represented, civil activists and members of the parliament participated in the protest. Its goals were
- to attract public attention to the problem of illegal governance and dependence of judges on corruptive representatives of the High Council of Justice,
- to make officials of the High Council of Justice stop interference into judges’ work and adjust the transparency of their own work.
The participants of the protest put in clear claims to the members of the High Council such as no pressure on judges, transparent work of the High Council of Justice, no interference in work of the judges, in particular of those who are considering a case with Ukrnafta and Arkona Gas-Energy involvement, removal from the office Oleksandr Malovatskiy, a member of the High Council of Justice who is associated with Arkona’s interests, according to the mass media. More information about the claims one can find here.
Serhiy Naslednikov, a head of the business unit Ukrnafta (East) who participated in the protest, commented: “This demonstration is a good example of unity of Ukrnafta’s workforce, especially if it is about elementary human rights such as a right for work. The company had been investing significant funds in geological exploration of Chervonolutske gas field. Of course, we are indignant at the situation with illegal issuing of the license by the Public Service of Geology and Subsoil of Ukraine, without the auction, to the company that is associated with one of the members of the High Council of Justice. When the courts keep out of the interests of the rights of Ukrnafta’s workforce that counts thousands of people, such protests as this one is the only opportunity for us to protect our legal right for production activities and to impel the corruptive officials stop abuse of power.”
Andriy Maksimov, another participant of the protest and a manager of the department of the integrated management of oilfields (Poltava oblast), told: “Ukrnafta had been exploring and developing Chervonolutske field as a part of Svystunkivsko-Chervonolutska gas bearing area for over 15 years. Nevertheless, with a help of cynical manipulations with gas and gas condensate reserves in this field Arkona did the unclear approbation of the reserves that had been proved by Ukrnafta already. Meanwhile, the Public Service of Geology and Subsoil of Ukraine let this company to duplicate the estimation of reserves, factually forbidden by the Code of Ukraine about the mineral resources. Besides, Arkona had decreased them in dozens of times from the initial 1.6 bn m3 of free gas and 96 kt of condensate, approved by the State Commission of Ukraine on Mineral Resources in 2010, to 320 mn m3 of free gas and 17 kt of condensate, estimated by Arkona. That let them not to pay to the budget millions of hryvnas. Ukrnafta has been trying to prove the illegal nature of the license to Arkona in trial for several years already and emphasizes the huge damage to the state. Meanwhile, the judges, considering the case and being “hostages” of the disciplinary cases against them, launched by the High Council of Justice at the same time, are obviously afraid to pass legal judgement. This peaceful protest by Ukrnafta’s employees is an attempt to avoid dismissal and further unemployment of several thousands of employees who are working in Poltava region. And I am sure that our company will involve all legal tools to protect our rights and the property of the state in the future as well.”
Note to editors:
PJSC Ukrnafta is a participant of two lawsuits regarding Svystunkivsko-Chervonolutska gas bearing area the license for which the company had in 2004-2014.
Since 2017, Ukrnafta has unsuccessfully tried to defend its legal right to conduct business activities in Chervonolutske field in the courts (case No. 826/14653/17 in the claim of PJSC Ukrnafta against the Public Service of Geology and Subsoil and Arkona Gas-Energy LLC). Administrative courts of all instances, following the same pattern, denied Ukrnafta even the consideration of its claim, in fact denying the constitutional right for the access to justice. In this process, Ukrnafta repeatedly challenged the judges on the basis of the available information about the pressure on them by the High Council.
The newly created Supreme Court is also not in a hurry to restore the violated rights of the company. The cassation complaint of Ukrnafta has been left without consideration for a year.
When the situation had been made public by the media, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine (GPU) initiated its own parallel legal process (case no. 826/7627/18 on the GPU's claim against the Public Service of Geology and Subsoil and Arkona Gas-Energy LLC).
The claims in these cases are identical: they include the cancellation of the issuance of a license for gas production in Chervonolutske field by the Public Service for Arkona Gas-Energy in Poltava oblast.
The district administrative court of Kyiv not only refused to satisfy the demands of the GPU, acting in the interests of the state, but it even made more: this high-profile case was determined by the judge alone as a matter of minor complexity, which made it possible to examine it secretly, without involving the parties, the media and the public. Ukrnafta and NABU are the third parties on the side of the claimant in this case, which is currently on appeal.
Also, the media express reasonable doubts as to which side the GPU is “playing” and whether the Prosecutor’s Office’s claim on Arkona is not another attempt to imitate the vigorous activity under the slogans of protecting the interests of the state.
On February 26, 2019, two judges from the collegium of the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal, considering this case, recused themselves, thus confirming that they were under the influence of the Supreme Court, a member of which is associated with the interests of Arkona.