Ukraine: Fight against graft inhibited by government influence on anti-corruption institutions
Oligarchs’ influence over political parties also a problem
Transparency International Ukraine in cooperation with leading anti-corruption experts today presents the National Integrity System (NIS) Assessment, which comprehensively evaluates Ukrainian legislative base and practical functioning of the bodies who are responsible for corruption prevention and counteraction. Experts of Anti-Corruption Action Centre, Centre for Political and Legal Reforms, Center for Political Studies and Analysis, Arzinger, and independent experts took part in the research. The report finds that while some anti-corruption progress has been made, corruption remains an issue in Ukraine, with overarching influence of the government and oligarchs undermining reform efforts.
The National Integrity System Assessment studies key spheres of the country’s functioning that are involved in anti-corruption activity. Those spheres (pillars) do not only include public bodies, i.e. Parliament, Government, public sector, judiciary etc., but also take into account political parties, civil society, media and business. The authors of the research believe that the international community’s best practices are of great importance for development of the anti-corruption system. A comprehensive integrity analysis is crucial for detecting corruption risks.
The experts highlight that a strong civil society is the foundation stone in forming the powerful anti-corruption system. The research shows that today anti-corruption organizations play a much more active role in anti-corruption reform than in 2010, when the previous NIS Assessment took place in Ukraine. Their major function is monitoring the accountability of authorities. While the 2010 NIS report describes numerous instances of the Government intrusion and prosecution of civil society leaders and activists, since February 2014, CSOs now generally work in a free environment. However, the level of accountability within civil society hasn’t grown since 2010. Publication of financial and narrative reports is not a widespread practice, therefore, integrity of CSOs is mostly achieved under the pressure of donors.
Decreasing the level of corruption in Ukraine is only possible if important anti-corruption institutions are established and launched properly. Those institutions are the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) with its law enforcement functions, and the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) aimed to fight corruption using preventive measures. Unfortunately, experts prove that not all legislative requirements are met to launch those bodies. There is a risk that they’ll be under the Government’s control. The experts recommend securing the status and independence of NABU in the Constitution of Ukraine, and to provide for a transparent procedure of the formation of the NAPC. Besides, they insist that proper financing of those institutions is crucial.
The Assessment shows the weak role of political parties in the national integrity system due to their incapability to accumulate and represent social interests. In 2014, parties express stronger will in fighting corruption than it was in 2010, which increases the role of legislative and executive power in implementation of the anti-corruption reforms. However, most of the obligations that parties took upon themselves haven’t been fulfilled yet. The research states that the major reason why parties cannot represent social interests is their strong dependence on wealthy donors, i.e. oligarchs, due to the lack of limits on private donations and lack of annual public financing.
The 2015 NIS Assessment shows that corruption remains a systemic problem in Ukraine on all levels of public administration. While in some areas the situation has improved since 2010, both petty and grand corruption are still flourishing. Political parties, the legislature, police, public servants and judiciary are still perceived by the citizens as highly corrupt. The level of tolerance to corruption within Ukrainian society has slightly decreased since 2010, but almost a third of Ukrainians still believe that corruption can be justified and view bribery as one of the easiest ways to solve their problems with government institutions. To solve the corruption problem is possible by means of increasing the role of civil society in controlling anti-corruption reforms, proper establishment and work of NABU and NAPC, as well as reform of the system of political party and election campaign financing using European anti-corruption experience.
The National Integrity Systems report Ukraine was produced under the framework of the EU-funded project "National Integrity System Assessment in the European Neighbourhood East region. With the objective to improve good governance in the Neighbourhood East region by decreasing corruption, the project aims at improving the understanding of the performance of existing anti-corruption mechanisms as part of the essential framework for preventing corruption and seeks to mitigate primary corruption risks through evidence-based advocacy, including public education, advocacy geared at triggering policy reforms, and other relevant activities. The apportioned grant by EU for this project covering 5 countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) is in the amount of 680,517.92 EUR (90% of the total budget).
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