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Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

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Corruption and Ukraine

Nicholas Zharkikh

Here I have to write another article in the wake of the previous one. Considering the prospects of Ukraine’s post-war development, the issue of corruption should also be touched upon.

There are three main reasons for corruption in Ukraine.

The first and foremost is the frantic flow of corrupt money coming from Moscow, which our sweet tooth lovers simply cannot resist. This flow is a source of corruption not only in Ukraine, but all over the world.

I have already mentioned that Medvedchuk alone received $ 5 billion from Moscow. And how many did US President Donald Trump, who pursued pro-Moscow policy so passionately, receive? In simple terms, how much is American democracy on the market today?

How much money has been invested in Germany’s political system, so that there is currently no party in it that is not russophilic? How much did cost the purchase of the French political system, where only russophilic forces and russophilic figures compete with each other?

Therefore, it is hoped that after the destruction of the command and financial center of corruption in Moscow, this area of human activity will decline. As in a well-known anecdote: "So, what are the corrupt people sighing about? – Well, maybe they won’t sigh, but they won’t have such a health anymore."

The second source of corruption was the illegal "privatization" of the 1990s, as a result of which everything that was created by the efforts of the entire nation and should be the source of its prosperity fell into the hands of a dozen clever businessmen.

None of these dealers have ever created anything socially useful and do not even understand what it is. Everyone knows how the enormous wealth of Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk came about, but no one can explain how the two giant metallurgical plants in Mariupol, built since the 1930s, became privately owned by Akhmetov.

"There is God’s judgment, thimbles of depravity!" The Muscovites destroyed both illegally "privatized" plants, and I hope we will soon see Akhmetov collecting bottles near the Lukyanovskaya metro station. The war comes to the rescue here, cutting this knot of corruption (clever embezzlement).

The third source of corruption is the above-mentioned pursuit of a sweet life. Life for any, even dirty, bloody money. This source will not disappear with the war and will always exist.

Ukraine’s reputation as a highly corrupt state is to some extent deserved, but only to some extent. Thanks to the efforts of openly Moscow and covertly Moscow propaganda (ie the first source of corruption), this reputation is extremely exaggerated:

There is nothing ugly in me,

That paint in the hands of my enemy.

The destruction of the corruption center in Moscow will stop this propaganda and at the same time will open to all countries of the world a lot of interesting things about their domestic corruption. More than one reputation will burn, more than one high-profile lawsuit will take place, and some may even get behind bars.

Against this background, Ukrainian corruption will no longer look unprecedented.

On the other hand, Ukraine is still systematically fighting corruption. In particular, our Prozorro public procurement system has been highly praised by experts from various countries and… And these countries are in no hurry to license this system for their own use. Everyone felt sorry for their own corruption.

Further, Ukraine has built a coherent "anti-corruption vertical": we have the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, a special anti-corruption investigative body, a special anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and a special anti-corruption court.

Such a system of anti-corruption bodies was designed by liberal Harvard professors and implemented by their students in administration. Everyone was looking for a country they wouldn’t felt sorry for, trying to figure out what would come of it. As Juffin Halley used to say, "Until you don’t try, you won’t know." And so they found Ukraine, which no one felt sorry for.

The creation of such a system of anti-corruption bodies was demanded by our Euro-Atlantic allies, and these bodies are at least partially funded by American grants, which should make them relatively independent of the Ukrainian executive, which, according to the initiators, is the center of corruption.

Construction of this anti-corruption monster began in 2014, and in the fall of 2024 we will celebrate the tenth anniversary of its existence.

And what happened?

The current model of a life-size steam locomotive turned out: everything spins, rotates, creaks and rattles, there is no only one – results. This monster has not shown a single result in 8.5 years (well, we do not consider cases of illegal accrual of bonuses in the amount of 30 USD).

So, is there no more corruption in Ukraine? – Yes, It did not run away, and moreover – got new opportunities for development. Anti-corruptionists take bribes from corrupt officials for not opening some criminal cases, for closing these cases, for failing to go to court and for wandering between anti-corruption bodies, and for the fact that the courts acquit the accused. Indeed, no high-profile case has been brought to justice, but even to a clear degree of investigation.

Anti-corruptionists have found common ground with the corruptionists, joined the corruption schemes and themselves have become ordinary corrupt officials, only with the magnificent prefix "anti".

This was not to be expected in the past, but now the results are obvious: this whole anti-corruption vertical, which does not seem to be the case in any other country, is incompetent and only burns money from the US budget. "Vertical" repeats the shameful story of the Office for Combating Organized Crime. This office had to be disbanded due to the fact that organized crime led it – it led its people to the leadership, with easily predictable consequences.

And the decade of the "vertical" is approaching day by day, and someday we will have to draw conclusions. It can be concluded that this was the wrong country and the wrong corruption in it. And also one can conclude that these were the wrong professors and the wrong project.

If someone asked me, I would advise to abolish this whole "anti-corruption vertical". It is impossible to get rid of corruption completely, but it is possible to get rid of the anti-corruption shame associated with it.

And how does all this relate to the war and / or post-war development of Ukraine?

Closely related, because now and in the postwar period, everything related to Ukraine will be the subject of close study. Not only the vast experience of our army, but also the successes and failures of Ukraine in the fight against corruption will also be the subject of public attention. I want to believe that the "fight against corruption" in the post-war period will be quietly forgotten, as "the fight against organized crime", "the fight against Ebola" and "the fight against Covid-19".

At the very least, Ukraine’s unfair assessment of a "thoroughly corrupt country" should be changed so that it does not deter investors in the postwar period.

June 9, 2022 in Kyiv.