Reuters International

An activist attends a rally demanding the dismissal of prosecutors whom the activists said were involved in illegal arrest and torturing of employees of the national anti-corruption bureau, in front of the Prosecutor General office in Kiev, Ukraine, August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko


By Andriy Perun

KIEV (Reuters) - About 200 people protested outside Ukraine's public prosecutor's office on Wednesday over the "gangster-style" detention of two anti-corruption bureau (NABU) investigators which organisers said showed a lack of political will to eliminate graft.

Demonstrators held "Save NABU" signs and six activists knelt on the ground with black bags on their heads simulating the ordeal of the investigators who organisers say were beaten while held in the basement of the general prosecutor's office for 11 hours on Aug. 12.

"They became the subject of gangster-style attack," one lawmaker, Yegor Sobolev, told Reuters on the sidelines of the protest.

Sobolev said the detention of the two NABU officials, who have since been released, was retaliation for their undercover investigation into the possible wrongdoing of prosecutors in a criminal case.

The general prosecutor's office declined immediate comment.

In a similar incident, prosecutors raided NABU's offices earlier in August, which anti-corruption campaigners say was in revenge for NABU investigating high-ranking officials.

Ukraine's pro-Europe leadership, which took over in 2014 after a Moscow-backed president fled in the face of street protests, vowed to stamp out corruption and rebuild the country along transparent lines in exchange for a $40 billion IMF-led bailout deal.

But slow progress on reforms and President Petro Poroshenko's appointment of members of his inner circle to key jobs has raised questions over the power of vested interests.

To the protesters, the prosecutors' actions are further confirmation that these vested interests are trying to undermine progress in fighting corruption.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; editing by Matthias Williams and Richard Balmforth)


 Reuters International