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A step away from the finale: what do we know about 10 candidates for NACP head?

Friday, 23 February 2024, 14:00

On February 20, the Commission for the Selection of a new NACP Head decided on the list of candidates admitted to the final interviews. This will be the last stage of the competition before the selection of the winner. Subsequently, the commission must present the winner to the government, and the Cabinet will appoint them to the post. 

This selection has been largely ignored by the media community, perhaps due to a considerable amount of other news, but first of all because, so far, this competition is not as scandalous as the SAPO Head competition and is conducted much faster than, for example, the competition for the selection of the NABU Director.

But, of course, this in no way diminishes the importance of selecting the future Head of the NACP because, in the next four years, this person will be responsible for the formation of Ukraine's anti-corruption policy, the verification of electronic declarations of officials and financial statements of parties, and many other important things. 


So, what is going on in this competition? Who might win it? Find out below.

Who has reached the final stage?

As a result of interviews with 24 candidates (notably, it took the commission just three days!), the commission admitted Andrii Vyshnevskyi, Serhii Hupiak, Dmytro Kalmykov, Kateryna Kapliuk, Vitalii Nikulin, Viktor Pavlushchyk, Oleksandr Skomarov, Oleksandr Starodubtsev, Serhii Stepanian, and Artem Khavanov to the final stage of the competition. 

We had carefully analyzed all public information about the participants even before the interviews and listened carefully to the commission's conversations with them. Interestingly, in many respects, our assessment and the opinions of the members of the selection commission on the screening of candidates coincided. Many candidates, to whom we had a lot of questions, were not admitted to further stages of the competition.

Find out in the material who continued to participate in the selection, what we know about these people, and how the interviews went.

Andrii Vyshenvskyi


Position: from August 15, 2022, to July 26, 2023, he was Deputy Head of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention.

The dismissal of Andrii Vyshnevskyy from this position was accompanied by a number of scandals with his open criticism of the then head Oleksandr Novikov. The candidate is now appealing this dismissal in court.

The topic of dismissal was also raised by the commission during the interview. Vyshnevskyi called the conflict with Oleksandr Novikov, the ex-head of the NACP, "a very strange and incomprehensible situation." Vyshnevskyi explained that he attributed his dismissal to the fact that Novikov's management style was quite authoritarian. In addition, Vyshnevskyi did not support the NACP’s engagement in sanctions, but as an employee responsible for the Agency's international cooperation, it was he who had to solve the problems caused by international conflicts as a result of such activities.

The candidate also denied that, under the Yanukovych regime, he had contacts with the then Minister of Justice Lavrynovych or the Head of the Presidential Administration Portnov. In addition, the commission asked the candidate about the origin of his family's savings.

The late grandmother of the candidate was engaged in selling cut flowers for more than 20 years, which allowed her to save money and help her children and the grandson.

Serhii Hupiak


Position: Head of the Fourth Investigation Department of the Territorial Department of the State Bureau of Investigation in Khmelnytskyi.

In 2023, Serhii Hupiak participated in the competition for the position of the NABU Director and was among the three candidates presented for consideration by the government. 

Journalist Nataliia Sedletska then spoke about Hupiak's participation in the NABU competition as follows: "He is the head of the SBI in Vinnytsia Oblast, that is, a subordinate of Oleksii Sukhachov, and therefore it is a direct vertical of Oleh Tatarov. Back on the weekend, the Presidential Office really considered appointing Hupiak as the NABU director. International partners were against it."

We at Transparency International Ukraine had questions about the origin of the candidate's and his family's savings; the Commission was also interested in this matter. Hupiak indicated that he did not want to voice the amount of his parents' savings for security reasons but could well provide this information to the commission directly.

The commission also mentioned cases when the refusals of the SBI department managed by the candidate to enter information into the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations were appealed. The candidate replied that, in his opinion, only those statements that contained sufficiently justified information about the commission of an offense were entered in the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations.

Dmytro Kalmykov


Position: Head of the NACP Anti-Corruption Policy Department

In its profiles about the candidates, TI Ukraine mentioned that the candidate headed a department that developed the Anti-Corruption Strategy and the State Anti-Corruption Program. These two documents can be noted among the greatest achievements of the NACP in 4 years, but we also had some comments on them. 

We asked the candidate whether he had visited the temporarily occupied territories after their occupation, since he had real estate in Luhansk Oblast.

The commission also inquired about Kalmykov's real estate and his ties with relatives in the temporarily occupied territories. According to Kalmykov, after 2014, he and his family left the territories, but the candidate's parents sometimes went back there to look after the property. They went there in early 2020, when the checkpoints of Ukraine got closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and later—due to the full-scale invasion. Therefore, Kalmykov's parents are still in the occupied territories. 

Kateryna Kapliuk


Position: individual entrepreneur

In 2021–2022, Kapliuk was the chief specialist of the lifestyle monitoring department at the NACP. The introduction of this procedure was found unsatisfactory in the report on the results of the independent evaluation of the NACP. 

Before the integrity interviews, we were interested in why the candidate, after ceasing to work as an investigative journalist, agreed to work in the NACP under the leadership of Oleksandr Amplieyev, a person mentioned in her journalistic investigation. We also asked her about her attitude to the fact that the NACP was engaged in determining the list of candidates for sanctions, as well as in searching for the assets of such persons. Kapliuk was responsible for these matters, although the Agency did not have such powers according to the law.

The commission, for its part, asked similar questions during the interview. Kapliuk's reply to the first question was, "The socially desirable answer would be for me to say that if I become the Head of the NACP, I will dismiss everyone. But my opinion is a little different." According to her, she had no doubts about the integrity of her supervisor while working in the NACP, and journalists do not have all the data when preparing their materials. To the second question, Kapliuk replied that the absence of such powers of the Agency was one of the reasons why she resigned.

*According to the candidate, the interview covered expanding powers to identify unfounded assets of Ukrainian officials, not sanctions. The candidate currently no longer supports running the NACP sanctions portal.

Vitalii Nikulin


Position: Representative of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Places of Detention

Prior to his appointment as a representative of the Commissioner for Human Rights in places of detention, Vitalii Nikulin worked for a long time in the Kharkiv City Council, in particular as the head of the advertising department. 

The candidate made a number of mistakes in his declarations, which raised questions both on the part of Transparency International Ukraine and the selection commission. In his declaration for 2022, Nikulin did not indicate an apartment he rented in Kyiv because at the time of filing the declaration, he had used it for less than 180 days and therefore believed that it was not subject to declaration. In fact, it is necessary to declare real estate that is owned, used, or disposed of as of the end of the reporting year. The candidate admitted that he had made a "mistake that, unfortunately, cannot be corrected" because the deadline for submitting the corrected declaration expired.

The commission also asked about Vitalii Nikulin's brother, who had lived in Moscow before the full-scale invasion; currently he is in Indonesia. At the interview, Nikulin said that since September 2022, his brother had been a registered individual entrepreneur in Ukraine and paid taxes.

Viktor Pavlushchyk


Position: Senior Detective—Head of the Detectives Department of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine

In 2023, he participated in the competition for the director of the NABU. Some questions about property were raised then, and the candidate answered them. Transparency International Ukraine was interested in whether the candidate managed to find out the reasons for the trip of his partner's mother to Russia in 2020 because last year, he hadn't been aware of this fact.

However, during the interview, the commission asked other questions, in particular, about the sources of income of the mother of Pavlushchyk's partner: in 2020, she gave her daughter UAH 280,000, and the following year, she bought a Hyundai Elantra car for UAH 290,000. The candidate explained that the sources of funds were savings and pensions. 

The candidate also emphasized that in the most difficult first months of the invasion, he did not leave Kyiv Oblast and was deputy head of the interagency group in the affected Bucha district.

Oleksandr Skomarov


Position: Deputy Head of the Main Detective Unit—Head of the Second Detective Unit of the Main Detective Unit of the NABU.

TI Ukraine and the commission were interested in the fact that the candidate participated in the investigation of the PrivatBank case. Skomarov publicly commented on it on behalf of the NABU. However, his wife had worked in a managerial position in the holding of Ihor Kolomoiskyi until 2023. The candidate replied that he did not see any conflicts of interest in this situation.

The commission also mentioned Skomarov's sister, who had been an official suspect in a NABU case, and in respect of whom the candidate had acted as a guarantor in court. The candidate did not see any conflict of interest here either because "family members should support each other." He said that he did not regret it and would do it again. The candidate also noted that the case was closed, and the NABU detectives, who were subordinate to him and conducted this case, were not prosecuted.

In addition, the commission was interested in how the candidate's mother, who had an official income of USD 2,500 for 1998–2023, was able to acquire real estate in Kyiv. The candidate noted that the source of funds was the sale of a store in Luhansk Oblast; the documents are unlikely to be preserved.

Oleksandr Starodubtsev


Position: Deputy Chief of Staff of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention. Until May 2022, he held the position of Deputy Head of the NACP.

From 2015 to 2017, he worked as the Director of the Public Procurement Regulation Department of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine. He was engaged in the creation of the Prozorro e-procurement system.

Transparency International Ukraine had many questions regarding the activities of Oleksandr Starodubtsev in senior positions in the NACP over the past 4 years. We had questions about the significant staff turnover and unfilled vacancies in the NACP because it was the candidate who was responsible for the field of HR in the Agency. We would also like to ask about the insufficient interaction of the NACP with the public, which was also recognized by international auditors.

We also drew attention to the fact that Starodubtsev had been working for a long time as a deputy of the head of the NACP apparatus, who was previously a member of the Party of Regions and ran for the Verkhovna Rada. Our question to the candidate as an HR expert concerned the relevance of keeping such people in senior positions in the NACP.

To a similar remark of the commission, Starodubtsev gave an ambiguous answer. He noted that his superior, although having different opinions, clearly performed the work assigned to him. Moreover, the candidate believes that the NACP Head was correct in thinking that different people should be part of the team so that this team was full-fledged.

The commission also asked about a payment that the candidate received from the Servant of the People party in 2019. Starodubtsev replied that it was about the money he received with the assistance of Tymofii Mylovanov for his speech during the strategic session of this party in Truskavets.

The members of the commission were also interested in the candidate's previous jobs and the reasons for his dismissal from the National Agency for Civil Service in 2020. Starodubtsev believes his dismissal to be political, but he was "okay" with this because the candidate considered himself affiliated with, according to Starodubtsev, the "Sonderkommando" of the previous government.

Serhii Stepanian


Position: Acting Director of the Corruption Detection and Prevention Department of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Since joining the Ministry of Defense, it is Stepanian who has communicated with the media about scandalous procurement transactions. TI Ukraine was interested in the candidate's opinion on them, as well as the candidate's attitude to the persecution of whistleblowers. 

The commission did not ask about this at the interview but clarified the information declared by the candidate, which also interested us. The candidate pointed out that when filling out the declarations, he was guided by the explanations of the NACP, but these explanations were too complicated. He was not sure whether he understood them correctly. If necessary, he would correct the latest declarations.

The commission asked about the situation with Stepanian's son, who was stopped by the police for speeding in a Lexus car. Stepanian joked that "if you have no problems, your family will help you with that," and explained that the car belonged to a family friend from Kharkiv, who handed it over to Serhii's wife "for protection" in Sumy. Stepanian himself was not aware of this situation, and when he found out, he insisted that the car be returned. The candidate promised to provide the commission with additional explanations.

Artem Khavanov


Position: Commissioner for Anti-Corruption Activities at the State Export-Import Bank of Ukraine JSC; before that, Compliance Officer at Naftogaz, UkrSibbank, Ukroboronprom, etc.

TI Ukraine and the commission asked the candidate about the circumstances of his driving a car in a state of alcoholic intoxication in 2018. The candidate explained that at a birthday party for his friend's son, he drank four bottles of beer and urgently drove to a pharmacy to get allergy medication for one of the guests who was unwell.

TI Ukraine also asked about the candidate's attitude towards the scandal in JSC State Export-Import Bank of Ukraine related to an attack on investigative journalists of the Schemes project. So far, the commission has not asked about it, perhaps this will happen at the final interviews.

What happened in the previous stages, and what to expect in the finale?

Prior to this, within the framework of the competition, candidates were already tested for knowledge of the law and general abilities, reliability; in addition, they underwent psychological tests and interviews. These stages were successfully passed by 24 candidates out of 51 people allowed to participate in the competition. 

The commission also agreed to publish the answers of 24 candidates to practical tasks on ethical leadership and the application of anti-corruption legislation on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers; before that, the strategic visions of candidates for the development of the NACP had also been published.

One of the main features of this competition is that the commission really tries to act as transparently as possible: all decisions are adopted publicly during the meetings broadcast by the government. 

In general, the commission is quite open to communication with the public and representatives of the expert community. Most wishes and comments from CSOs were considered, for example, a request for the publication of the results of the practical tasks.  

The commission tries to publish as much information sent by candidates as possible, as well as the results of the various stages of the competition. There were even unexpected "bonuses": at the first integrity interviews, real addresses of candidates and their family members were mentioned. Although all these things happened publicly and with the consent of the participants, later, the commission, considering the security risks, decided to publish these videos anew, removing the references to specific locations. 

On February 24 and 25, the members of the commission will hold final interviews with the candidates, after which they will determine who will eventually head the NACP.

We at Transparency International Ukraine hope that at the final stage of the competition, the commission will discuss in detail the professional competence of the candidates and their strategic vision for the development of the NACP. At these interviews, the members of the commission can find out how exactly the participants plan to overcome the challenges identified by the results of the international audit of the NACP. 

The commission should also clarify some issues of the candidates’ integrity that were not addressed at the previous stage.

Oleksandr Kalitenko, legal advisor at Transparency International Ukraine

Disclaimer: Articles reflect their author’s point of view and do not claim to be objective or to explore every aspect of the issues they discuss. The Ukrainska Pravda editorial board does not bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided, or its interpretation, and acts solely as a publisher. The point of view of the Ukrainska Pravda editorial board may not coincide with the point of view of the article’s author.

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