26 June 2024, 17:24
Mukachevo Mayor Served with a Suspicion Notice: Land Relations Transparency in the City

On June 26, the High Anti-Corruption Court began choosing an interim measure for Andrii Baloha in the case of facilitating the sale of land at an underestimated cost. According to media reports, the case concerns the Avangard stadium in the center of Mukachevo. Does this affect the transparency of the city? 

As part of the 2023 transparency study of city councils, the Transparent Cities program (Transparency International Ukraine) checked whether cities published a list of land plots for sale or lease and how voting for their allocation took place. Mukachevo published such a list; the draft agenda of the city council included more than 10% of land issues that were submitted as a batch or did not contain detailed information about the plots. That is, it is extremely difficult to establish what kind of land is allocated in such cases. 

This very thing happened with the scandalous draft decision on the land of the Avangard stadium: there was no mention of what kind of land it was. The decision itself was also voted as part of a batch; this is evidenced by the minutes of the meeting. Such actions prevent the public from monitoring and exercising oversight, which can lead to abuses on the part of local authorities. 

At the same time, in 2022 and 2023, Mukachevo was among the leaders in transparency. Last year, the city excelled in the areas of access and participation, electronic tools, information about the operation of local authorities, etc. In these areas, Mukachevo can undoubtedly be a role model for others.

The court will establish whether Mukachevo's officials actually committed a crime. However, in any case, there are still issues—lack of transparency in the adoption of land-related and other decisions, batch voting, etc. 

Such scandals once again indicate that transparency in work is important in all areas, including land, which has traditionally been considered one of the most corrupt spheres in Ukraine. Due to the dissemination of information and data, it is more difficult to hide abuses because both the public and the media, as well as the relevant authorities, can detect violations, prevent them or, if necessary, investigate them.

Therefore, we again call on cities and authorities to publish more of detailed information, when it does not threaten security, and interact with citizens. 

For its part, the Transparent Cities program is ready to advise both city councils on what information should be disclosed and members of the public on how to properly monitor and control the activities of local authorities.  

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