News / Europe

Time Ripe for Ukraine Anti-Corruption Reforms

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko shows the presidential seal during his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall in Kyiv, June 7, 2014.
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko shows the presidential seal during his inauguration ceremony in the parliament hall in Kyiv, June 7, 2014.
Ukraine’s new president, billionaire Petro Poroshenko, ran for office promising voters that he would institute reforms to end the kleptocracy seen during the regime of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych.
 
His election was the culmination of reform demands expressed last winter on the Maidan, a square in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where at least 100 people died during the anti-Yanukovych protests.
 
“There is a huge desire and demand,” said Sarah Mendelson, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, “for real change. This issue of accountability was absolutely at the core of what people on the Maidan were asking for. When people were voting for Poroshenko…this is what they were voting for.”
 
In his inauguration speech, Poroshenko said, “We must eliminate corruption. We need a national anti-corruption pact between the government and the people. It is simple: Officials do not take, and people do not give. We won’t be able to change the country unless we change ourselves.”
 
Ukraine’s transparency and good-governance community marked Poroshenko’s inauguration with a list of measures he wants enacted immediately. Topping that agenda is the establishment of a national, independent, robust anti-corruption agency.
 
“It will be a new law enforcement agency. And, it will have a very clear focus,” said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Kyiv. “It will investigate grand political corruption – meaning abuse of power and theft of funds  – conducted by senior state officials. And that will be the key focus of their investigations.”

Recommended changes
 
Kaleniuk said that along with an anti-corruption office, three important reform laws are needed.
 
They are: new rules for transparency in public procurement through tenders, a law requiring public registry of immovable property, and a so-called law of beneficial ownership, requiring that corporations list who owns and controls those entities.
 
Another good-governance group, Transparency International – Ukraine, has put out a manifesto of changes it says are essential to bring the country into open operations and accountability. The list runs several pages.
 
Along with the creation of the separate anti-corruption office, it calls for the establishment of anti-corruption departments within government ministries and agencies, something similar to the U.S. practice of having inspectors general performing internal oversight.
 
Transparency-International – Ukraine also wants the creation of asset declaration requirements for government officials and lawmakers, covering all sources of income, properties, investments and other financial interests.
 
It seeks, too, protection for so-called “whistleblowers” – government employees who inform authorities about improper activities they know about. Kaleniuk said this is going to involve a cultural change for Ukrainians. Whistleblowing has not been encouraged or supported in the past.
 
Database proposed

Transparency also wants the construction of nationwide databases of people and companies that have abused the public procurement process in order to prevent them from bidding on future tenders. This is legally termed as “debarment.”
 
And it hopes to impose transparency and accountability requirements on Ukraine’s judiciary, including limiting judges’ immunity from prosecution, asset declaration, and strict rules designed to avoid conflicts of interests where judges may have an interest in the cases they rule on.
 
Poroshenko won’t be able to bring about this change by himself. He will have to get Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada, to pass these reform laws.
 
Reformers await parliamentary elections

That parliament presently is the same one that was sitting when Yanukovych was president and, according to reformers, is poised to block any effort to change the system.
 
Anti-corruption groups said because of that, new parliamentary elections are needed to clear out a number of lawmakers who supported the Yanukovych regime.
 
Poroshenko, in his inaugural speech, promised new elections by the end of 2014.
 
But activists don’t want to wait that long. Many propose holding elections in a matter of three or four months so as not to lose momentum.
 
“There is a huge movement called the Open Government Partnership, which Ukraine is actually a part of,” said CSIS’ Mendelson. “It involves things like a robust, law-supporting civil society, freedom of information, budget transparency and financial disclosure by government officials. Ukraine is signed up for this.”
 
Kalenuik said her country is now in a moment in time she says cannot be squandered.
 
“Ukraine has the unique chance to change its system to where corruption is an exception to the rules, not as a rule,” she said. “But we have to realize that without pressure from civil society and pressure from international organizations and the international community, Ukraine and its government will not change.”

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid