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Ukraine leader vows to launch anti-corruption court

Protesters have put pressure on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to take anti-corruption measures, holding rallies in front of the parliament in Kiev
Protesters have put pressure on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to take anti-corruption measures, holding rallies in front of the parliament in Kiev Protesters have put pressure on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to take anti-corruption measures, holding rallies in front of the parliament in Kiev AFP/File
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Kiev (AFP)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed on Friday to launch an anti-corruption court demanded by Kiev's Western lenders and protesters camped out in a tent city near parliament.

Poroshenko's firmest commitment yet to a new judiciary body -- aimed at fighting endemic state graft -- comes against the backdrop of the first sustained wave of anti-government protests since Ukraine's 2014 pro-EU revolution.

The Ukrainian leader left Kiev on Friday to meet soldiers and reaffirm his support for institutional changes he had originally promised when elected president in place of the Russian-backed regime of Viktor Yanukovych.

Poroshenko said that next year's draft budget -- yet to be approved by parliament -- already earmarks money for an anti-corruption court.

"This testifies to the state leadership's firm commitment to launching this vitally important judicial body next year," Poroshenko said.

"The way I see and plan it, the timeline for the new court's creation foresees the president's signature on an anti-corruption law by the end of the year," Poroshenko said.

"This is completely feasible."

There was no immediate response to Poroshenko's promise from Ukraine's creditors at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or protest leaders in Kiev.

Poroshenko's critics and some Western economists have accused the Ukrainian leader of deliberately dragging his feet over the creation of an anti-corruption court in order to preserve the current political order.

Nearly 5,000 protesters rallied outside parliament on Tuesday demanding the court's immediate introduction and the passage of a bill that would strip members of parliament of their immunity from prosecution.

The IMF has called the court's launch a "benchmark" of Ukraine's progress toward Western standards that would help ease the release of future loans.

Ukraine ranked 131st out of 176 countries assessed by Transparency International's corruption perception index in 2016.

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