12:21 07.05.2024

15 city councils of Ukrainian regional centers received highest score in terms of openness - Chesno Movement

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The Chesno movement conducted another wave of research on the openness of city councils in Ukraine, analyzing data for 2023. The evaluation criteria were 11 marker questions, including the availability of announcements of sessions and committee meetings, publication of agendas, draft decisions, minutes and video recordings of meetings.

"Currently, the indicators of openness of city councils in regional centers are quite high. At once, 15 councils received the highest score according to the methodology of the Chesno Movement. While the obligation to publish documents and reports on the council's activities is strictly observed, there are differences in the access of citizens to the meetings. Naturally, given the restrictions of martial law, a number of councils have introduced a requirement for pre-registration and document verification. At the same time, a number of councils that are close to the contact line hold meetings online. This format also affects the rules of public access to the meetings," the report says.

Poltava City Council showed the greatest increase in openness.

"During the previous waves of monitoring, the city council promised to provide a response after the end of martial law. At present, the Poltava City Council has reported on the opening of all sections," the report says.

In general, it is noted that this year, no councils invoked the right not to provide answers until the end of martial law, as was the case during previous waves of the study.

Only one city council, Zaporizhzhia, received the lowest openness score in 2023. It was noted that this indicator has not improved over the past two years, which was recorded in previous waves of the Chesno Movement's research.

"The council does not publish orders to convene sessions, agendas, draft decisions, minutes, and does not broadcast meetings," the report says.

It is noted that the openness of the Kherson City Council was not assessed in the monitoring, as in response to a request from the Chesno Movement, the council reported that no plenary meetings of sessions and standing committees had been held since February 24, 2022. At the same time, the council provided links to materials about its activities before the full-scale invasion and temporary occupation of Kherson.

At the same time, the researchers note that while city councils are improving their openness, the situation in regional councils is less positive. Only five regional councils have the maximum score: Vinnytsia, Volyn, Odesa, Ternopil, and Rivne. The latter provided the most comprehensive response to the Chesno Movement and reported that it pays special attention to openness and cooperation with the public sector and residents.

On the other hand, during this wave of monitoring, Poltava regional council once again refused to provide a full response to the request, emphasizing that this type of request does not meet the requirements of the Law on Access to Public Information. Poltava council remains the only one that has not provided any data during the three waves of monitoring by the Chesno Movement.

The Zaporizhzhia Regional Council also has difficulties in assessing the level of openness, as in 2023, due to the lack of a quorum of deputies, not a single meeting was held. The council provided a link to the meetings held at the end of 2022, but the assessment of the council's openness in 2023 based on previous results does not fall under the methodology of the Chesno Movement.

The lowest score for council openness in 2023 was given to Kyiv Regional Council - 5 points out of 11 possible. In response to a request, Chesno reported that due to a hacker attack, a new temporary website was being filled with content. In fact, the data for previous periods of work was lost, so the current score is low.

Chernivtsi and Chernihiv councils have average scores. The latter, in particular, reported that after the start of the full-scale intrusion, it suspended the publication of mayoral resolutions and other documents due to possible security risks for council employees and citizens. Such restrictions can be justified given the proximity to the border and the constant shelling of these areas.

At the same time, Chernivtsi city council has gaps in the openness of the work of permanent commissions. The Chesno Movement was informed that the council does not broadcast or record its meetings, as they are broadcast by local TV channels invited to the session.

Zhytomyr, Kherson, and Ivano-Frankivsk councils have 8 points out of 11 possible in terms of openness.

"Compared to the low scores of the first openness monitoring in 2022, the vast majority of local councils in Ukraine have now significantly improved their information. Back then, local councils hid their decisions under the guise of war and COVID. Currently, there are no mentions of COVID at all, but the war and martial law restrictions remain relevant. The trends of increasing openness are positive, but there are gaps in the work of councils with high scores. Most often, they relate to the work of permanent commissions. In particular, there are no announcements of such meetings in the councils, and the agenda can only be found in the minutes, that is, after the meeting," the study notes.