Fighting corruption in Ukraine: A serious challenge

Fighting corruption in Ukraine: A serious challenge

The elections in Ukraine have returned the ruling party to power but with a tarnished image. Independent election monitors noted many irregularities on both poling day and in the run-up to the vote. This should be no surprise. In May 2011 TORO, the Transparency International national contact group in Ukraine, published an assessment of the institutions in the country, which concluded:

“Corruption in Ukraine is a systemic problem existing across the board and at all levels of public administration. Both petty and grand scale corruption are flourishing. Among the institutions which are perceived by the public to be highly corrupt are political parties, legislature, police, public officials and the judiciary. Ukrainian society can be characterised as a society with a high tolerance for corrupt practices.”

Ukraine has received millions from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for programmes that included improving governance but this does not appear to have much impact on public perception. In addition the World Bank, which has lent Ukraine $7 billion, reviewed the government’s performance in 2010 and found poor governance and corruption are a major deterrent to growth and foreign direct investment.

In 2011 the government terminated the position of government agency for anti-corruption policy and in May 2012 created a new National Anti-Corruption Committee but this has yet to produce any results.

Ukraine by the numbers

Our 2010-2011 survey of public opinion reported that one in three people had paid a bribe when dealing with public services and all the main institutions dealing with corruption – judiciary, political parties, parliament, police and public officials – were ranked as highly corrupt.

Ukraine GCB 2010/11 table

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Best practice is possible

Ukraine has signed up to both the Open Government Partnership and the United Nations Convention against Corruption. For the OGP it has an Action Plan and has committed to draft laws on the implementation of recommendations made by the European Union’s anti-corruption body, GRECO monitoring, but this has not yet been implemented. 

In the National Integrity System study which looked at the strengths of Ukraine’s institutions and its ability to fight corruption, TORO found that public sector corruption is a widespread problem in the country. The report suggests that many institutions in Ukraine continue to hide behind a ‘veil of secrecy’, including a lack of transparency in both media ownership and the funding of political parties.

The report recommends that the Ukrainian Parliament implement reforms in a range of institutions, including the creation of a politically independent judiciary, reform of the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns, and a new version of the Law on Public Service to ensure greater integrity and professionalism within administrative services. A strong political commitment to anti-corruption is required to ensure implementation.

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