Main / Updates in Tobacco Control / MP Nina Yuzhanina received the “Golden Scythe”- an anti-award for the tobacco lobbying

MP Nina Yuzhanina received the “Golden Scythe”- an anti-award for the tobacco lobbying

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10 June 2019

“Golden Scythe” ceremony took place on June the 7th in Kyiv, Ukraine to award state officers for lobbying the tobacco industry interests. It was the fourth anti-rating. The last time anti-award was held in 2013. “Golden Scythe 2019” was awarded for the “achievements” in tobacco lobbying during the Verkhovna Rada 8th convocation.

The event itself was a performance: Death, accompanied by music, was walking the red carpet and raising the Scythe to the winners’ portraits. Tobacco control and anti-corruption experts were, in turn, announcing the “noble actions” of the tobacco lobbyists.

According to the experts’ estimations, “Golden Scythe” was awarded to Nina Yuzhanina, MP, the Head of Taxation and Customs Policies Committee of the Verkhovna Rada, “Silver Scythe” went to the MP Mykhailo Kobtsev, and MP Hennadii Kryvosheya got the “Copper Scythe”. “Golden Brakes” was awarded to Volodymyr Hroisman.

“Why the Scythe? On the one hand, by backing up the interest of the tobacco industry politicians “mow” money, and, on the other hand, they “mow’ people’s lives. Ukraine has more than 7 million smokers; every year more than 85 thousand people die due to the medical conditions caused by smoking; Ukraine’s economy loses 12.5 billion dollars due to medical expenses and the loss of working efficiency. That’s why tobacco is the enemy of state’s interests. Only corporations who get rich off people’s health can benefit from it. That is why the industry, using its lobbying groups and agents in positions of power, opposes any actions toward lessening the smoking prevalence rates. Tobacco lobbying is one of the main reasons why The Verkhovna Rada of the 8th convocation couldn’t manage to pass any anti-tobacco bill,” explained Lilia Olefir, Executive Director of the NGO “Advocacy Centre LIFE”.

Nina Yuzhanina was the most prominent supporter of tobacco industry interests. The Head of the Taxation Committee put maximum effort to avoid passing the anti-tobacco bills #2820 and #4030a, which were drafted in accordance with the international tobacco control requirements and were approved by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the World Health Organization. During the first hearing of the bill #4030a Nina Yuzhanina openly spoke against the bill which was aimed to protect children from the advertisements of cigarettes in the shops and widen a list of smoke-free public places. Also, Nina Yuzhanina has made a name for herself by supporting lower excise taxes for tobacco in spite of the fact that the high excise taxes ensure increase in budget revenues as well as decrease in tobacco consumption.

Mykhailo Kobtsev is one more representative of the Taxation Committee, who not only opposed the developing of tobacco control laws, but also had direct family ties with the representatives of the tobacco business. His daughter, Yevheniia Kobtseva, used to work for the tobacco company “Philip Morris Sales and Distribution LLC”. MP Kobtsev also had shown an interest to the Ukraine’s representative’s technical task for the Conference of Parties of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, he probably was trying to impose some tobacco industry messages.

Hennadii Kryvosheya created a legislative spam in the tobacco control field (he is the co-author of the bills #2430-1, #2430-d, #4507, #8337, #3788, #9073-1) to distract from passing actually effective laws. None of the bills were considered even in the first reading. And the bill 4507 altogether suggested to allow smoking e-cigarettes in the cafes, bars, and restaurants.

Volodymyr Hroisman received the “Golden Brakes” award in particular due to the fact that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the agreement between the “Philip Morris” LLC and Ukraine concerning the cancellation of tax notices imposed by the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine totaling UAH 635.3 million.

“Ukraine as a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control committed to protecting health care policy, tobacco control in particular, from any tobacco industry interference. However, this rule is not always implemented. Thus, we are monitoring and analyzing the actions of politicians who carry the interests of tobacco companies. We hope that making these facts public will discourage politicians from cooperation with the tobacco companies. Because ‘tobacco lobbyist’ is a lifelong mark,” noted Serhii Mytkalyk, Executive Director of the NGO “Anti-corruption Headquarters”.

Reference

“Golden Scythe” anti-award nominees: Taras Kozak, Leonid Kozachenko, Hryhorii Kozlovskyi, Mykhailo Kobtsev, Hennadii Kryvosheya, Oleh Kryshyn, Maksym Kuriachyi, Olena Masorina, Roman Nasirov, Nina Yuzhanina, Oksana Yurynets.

Candidates to receive the “Golden Brakes” award: Volodymyr Groisman, Yurii Lutsenko, Kseniia Liapina, Maksym Nefodov.

A link to infographic about facts in support of tobacco industry: http://bit.ly/316ouMK

Jury Members

·         Mariya Zemlianska, journalist, investigative journalism bureau “Svidomo”;

·         Serhii Mytkalyk, Executive Manager, NGO “Anti-corruption Headquarters”;

·         Lilia Olefir, Executive Director, NGO “Advocacy Centre LIFE”;

·         Maksym Savchuk, investigative journalist for “Schemes”, “Radio Svoboda”;

·         Vitalii Shabunin, Executive Director, NGO “Anti Corruption Action Centre”;

·         Taras Shevchenko, Director of the “Center of Democracy and the Rule of Law”.

 

Сo-organizers: NGO “Advocacy Centre LIFE”, Coalition “Smoke-free Ukraine”, NGO “Anti-corruption Headquarters”.

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