Corruption in Ukraine Has Become A Top Political Issue
2019-05-13 10:01 Monday
In the past few months, there have been several instances of unsavory corruption involving senior government officials.
Anger and protests erupted in February 2019 over an embezzlement scandal involving the military and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. In addition, high-level officials including Prosecutor General's Office, State Security Service and the State Fiscal Service have been implicated. Worse, media reports have highlighted the role of Ukraine's anti-corruption agency in the cover-up.
In addition, Ukraine's Constitutional Court recently struck down an anti-corruption law that would have ensured that government officials were held accountable for the illegal goods and assets they held at the expense of their citizens.
The reality of corruption in Ukraine is grim. Ukraine's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score for 2018 is just 32 out of 100, well below the global average of 43. Although Ukraine's CPI has risen by two percentage points since last year, its poor track record and apparent reversals have earned the country a place as a "country to watch".
To prevent corruption from further undermining democratic institutions, the Ukrainian government must ensure the independence of institutions, which is essential to controlling corruption.
In 2018, Ukraine's anti-corruption agencies were rocked by a string of scandals. The head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAPO) has been embroiled in a scandal and disciplinary proceedings.
In addition, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC), which is responsible for formulating national anti-corruption policies, supervising political financing and protecting whistleblowers, has also generated many controversies and scandals. The institution lacks political independence and credibility. It has not made any significant progress and has not conducted any major investigations.
In 2018, the government approved a law establishing the High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC), but the selection process for judges is ongoing.
Together, these new institutions constitute a solid anti-corruption infrastructure. But for the anti-corruption agencies to do their job properly, Ukraine's leaders need to show a genuine willingness to fight corruption.