KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's president approved legislation Thursday to purge government bodies of officials linked to the rule of the country's previous leader, Viktor Yanukovych.
The law is aimed at restoring public trust in authorities and building "a new system of government in line with European standards," President Petro Poroshenko's office said in a statement.
Yanukovych was overthrown in February after months of sometimes violent protests ignited by widespread discontent over corruption and maladministration. Poroshenko was elected president in May on the back of pledges he would usher in ambitious reforms — promises that his critics charge he is failing to enact swiftly enough.
The prime minister says around 1 million people could be affected by the law, which lays out the terms for checks on officials in national and local government. Government workers employed for at least one year during Yanukovych's four-year tenure could be barred from state service for a period of five to 10 years under the regulations.
Similar initiatives were pursued in many former Soviet bloc nations in the early 1990s as post-independence governments sought to overturn the legacy of decades of communist rule.
Critics of Ukraine's law say the public nature of the purge amounts to a political witch hunt. Ukraine's top prosecutor has warned the legislation may be unconstitutional and lead to unforeseen circumstances.
Opponents of Poroshenko's government say firing leftovers of the Yanukovych era is an attempt at suppressing political opposition.
Poroshenko has said the legislation may in the future be revised on the recommendations of international legal experts.