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Ukraine's leader warns of 'bloody chaos' if anti-graft laws are not restored

KYIV (Reuters) - President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned on Monday that Ukraine could slide into “bloody chaos” if parliament does not restore anti-corruption reforms which he says are vital to keep foreign aid flowing.

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during a news briefing in Kyiv, Ukraine October 12, 2020. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/Pool/File Photo

Zelenskiy has asked parliament to vote to dissolve the Constitutional Court and reinstate anti-corruption laws it struck down last week, but the outcome of the vote is uncertain.

Ukraine’s patchy performance on reforms has impeded a $5 billion deal from the International Monetary Fund to support the economy, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government is also under scrutiny after passing a resolution giving it more control over the procurement of medicines and equipment but denies allegations this could be a vehicle for corruption.

Opposition parties say they will vote against Zelenskiy’s legislation, which former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko described as a “coup d’etat” designed to concentrate more power in his hands.

It is unclear how many lawmakers from Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party will support the bill, which could go ahead as early as Tuesday.

Zelenskiy said Ukrainians would not tolerate backsliding on reforms to fight corruption and that Ukraine’s reputation was at stake.

“Either the country will be thrown into bloody chaos again, or the state will end its existence as a system of transparent rules and agreements,” Zelenskiy said in an audio recording of an appeal to lawmakers obtained by the news site.

The court ruled last week against some anti-corruption laws, saying the punishment for false information on officials’ asset declarations was excessive, and struck down some of the powers of the NAZK anti-corruption agency.

On Monday, the court also reviewed a land reform bill passed in March this year as part of Ukraine’s bid for more IMF loans.

The IMF said last week that enhancing the effectiveness of Ukraine’s anti-corruption institutions was essential, and the United States and other Western backers of Ukraine have expressed concern.

Writing by Matthias Williams, Editing by Timothy Heritage