KYIV — The head of the U.S. government's development agency has announced new financial support for anti-corruption initiatives in Ukraine. The visiting USAID chief said America stands by Ukraine in its quest to enact reform.
While in Kyiv, USAID Director Rajiv Shah pledged $10 million in additional support for beleaguered Ukraine. He said much of the money will be used to achieve a top priority for the nation’s new leader: fighting corruption.
Corruption was the main complaint prompting the people of Ukraine to rise up in February and bring down former leader Viktor Yanukovych. His cronyism and corruption were notorious, and exemplified by his massive, gilded mansion. He has since fled to Russia.
Shah, who met with new President Petro Poroshenko during his visit to Kyiv and the port city of Odessa, said the latest $10 million is just a small part of USAID’s work in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Shah also made a somber visit to a memorial in central Kyiv for the dozens of protesters killed in February’s uprising. He spoke to VOA shortly after laying flowers at the memorial site.
“USAID and the United States have had a long standing partnership with the people of Ukraine. What we have done in these last few months at President Obama’s direction is implemented a billion-dollar loan guarantee to help the new government gain access to the financing it needs. Vice President Biden announced $48 million of technical support to help put in the policies and economic reforms that will allow for a successful accession agreement with the EU and the economic reforms required for other IMF and other loans to come in,” stated Shah.
Kyiv accuses Moscow of backing separatists in restive, Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. Poroshenko, who promised at his inauguration earlier this month to end violence within a week, has called for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor for those who have been displaced by the fighting in the east and have been streaming into Kyiv.
“Well, you know, the United States is obviously very concerned and we have already sent experts from our office of foreign disaster assistance to assist the government in assessing the extent to which humanitarian support is required,” Shah said.
As Shah was touring the memorial, a woman who said she was from the eastern city of Donetsk thanked him and pop star Ruslana, who was with the American official, for their efforts in bringing the suffering of Ukraine’s people to international attention.