Ukrainian President Signs 'Anti-Oligarch Law'

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has signed into law a bill intended to curb the political influence of the country's oligarchs.

Zelenskiy signed the so-called anti-oligarch legislation on November 5, saying it would ensure the interests of society are served rather than that of a narrow elite of the rich and powerful.

"No matter how big a businessman is, he must work according to the law and on an equal footing with other economic entities. If someone is used to buying politicians to allow them to circumvent the law, then even the richest will have to say goodbye to this habit," the president said.

"There can be no other option but to dismantle the oligarchic system. Without this, it is simply impossible to overcome poverty in Ukraine and fully join the European community," he added.

Passed by parliament in September, the legislation introduces a legal definition for an oligarch, creates a register of tycoons, and requires officials to declare contacts with oligarchs or their representatives.

It also prohibits oligarchs from financing political parties, political ads, or demonstrations, and excludes them from privatization of state assets.

The United States and European Union have long called on Ukraine to rein in the handful of oligarchs who wield enormous political influence from behind the scenes to the detriment of everyday citizens.

However, critics of the law have warned that it opens the door for subjective targeting.

According to the law, Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) would make the final determination of whether an individual meets the criteria of a person having significant economic or political influence in public life -- or oligarch.

The Council of Ministers, members of the central bank, the Defense Council, the Anti-Monopoly Ministry, or the Security Service (SBU) have the right to submit the name of a tycoon for review by the NSDC.