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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid