Corruption could be considered a disease of the Ukrainian politics if it wasn’t its typical feature. Authoritative international organization Transparency International gave this term a definition – ‘corruption’ is an abuse of power for personal goals. At the end of 2016, Ukraine had no political leader who was more trusted than mistrusted. Social survey results provided by the Ilko Kucheriv ‘Democratic initiatives’ funds, from December 2016, tell us so.
The Transparency International statistics on Ukraine from 1998 is undeniable proof of stable high performance of corruption at the time of independence.
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index
In 2016, Ukraine was on 131st out of 176 places in corruption level, along with Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, and Nepal. That year, the first place was given to the Kingdom of Denmark. Meanwhile, according to the Eurostat data, the quantity of people who use the Internet to communicate with state services – 88%. It’s the highest index among the European Union countries. And it is not a coincidence. Countries demonstrating low indexes of corruption in authorities usually have high indexes of e-government using. As the less a citizen contacts with state servants and the more processes are done by an objective computer program, the fewer chances there are for officials of any level to use their positions for personal benefits, manipulate with state finances or demand bribes.
Country Place in rating ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’, Transparency International data in 2016 Quantity of people using the Internet to communicate with public services, Eurostat data in 2016
It should be noted that high corruption level is demonstrated in all the ex-Soviet republics. The reason is command centralized system of government management, which grew several generations of officials who are used to their privileged position in society. On the other hand, a deficit of everything made the working class with no privileges be sly to get material benefits. So, the system where people were forced to support corruption for authorities and feed officials with bribes.
Those, in their turn, multiplied legislative collisions and maximally complicated all the administrative processes to hide power abuse. The system didn’t disappear with the fall of USSR, vice versa, business mixed with politics creating remarkably durable symbiosis.
Sociological public opinion researches on the level of corruption in different government bodies show not only mistrust of society, but also services people are used to bribing, and use personal contacts to get help from, so called ‘nepotism’.
The real part of people involved in corruption relationships:
2011 — 72,4%
2015 — 70,7%
As for the level of trust to government in 2015, the lowest indexes show:
Prosecutor’s office — 3,5%
Committee on corruption prevention — 6,1%
National anti-corruption bureau — 6,9%
Lustration Committee — 7%
Security Service of Ukraine — 7,7%
Court system — 3% (this index was 7% in 2011).
Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine — 5% (in 2011 — 7,7%).
Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine — 5,9% (in 2011 — 9,2%).
Regional authorities — 6,4% (in 2011 — 10%).
President — 10,3% (in 2011— 14%)
Also, 60,6% of recipients think the president is the most responsible for fighting corruption.
Of course, the Ukrainians’ opinion on general corruption level and its tendencies are changing. Some think bribery is continually growing, other believe this relationship system is stable, and some even suppose the fight for the honest government didn’t go in vain. Percent of these categories of people in the last years changed the following way:
Corruption increased, thought 56% in 2009, 42% in 2011, 34% in 2015.
Corruption level didn’t change, thought 29% in 2009, 39% in 2011, 45,5% in 2015.
Corruption level dropped, thought 2% in 2009, 11% in 2011, 5% in 2015.
Anyway, most of the adult Ukrainian people (85,5%) are convinced that corruption is spread too much in society.
According to data for 2015, 65,5% of people face corruption at least once a year. In fact, there’s good news too: this index dropped from 2007 on. So, in 2009, 62,5% of people faced corruption, in 2011 — 60,1%. These numbers are given in the research ‘Corruption situation in Ukraine. Comparative analysis of nationwide researches: 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2015’, performed by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology in July-October 2015.
Sad statistics say all the previous efforts to fight corruption have been unsuccessful. And there have been a lot of them in the years of independence. In May 1993, the Verkhovna Rada issued a decree ‘About high priority measures for fighting organized crime and corruption’, which should have been followed by a bunch of laws for fighting corruption in different fields. But, a part of them was issued only in 2002, and none of them was efficient. In the next years, there was a row of the president’s decrees about fighting corruption in different fields signed, as well as about establishing investigation groups and demand to declare income for officials, and other anti-corruption measures.
But the first big anti-corruption program was the National program of fighting with corruption, confirmed in April 1997 by the then president Leonid Kuchma. This program was the first to confirm the previous attempts to fight corruption had failed, laws passed before didn’t work, and bribery was such a big problem it became a danger to national security.
It should be noted that corruption was considered as a part of organized crime for a long time, and only the program of 1997 confessed the existence of high-level corruption.
In the Concept of fighting corruption in Ukraine ‘On the way to virtue’ approved by the president Viktor Yushchenko in September 2006, also systematic nature of corruption and unsuccessful attempts to fight it in the previous years were confessed.
The next anti-corruption program, approved in October 2011 by the then president Viktor Yanukovych was even sharper in judging high-level corruption. This is about the National anti-corruption strategy for 2011–2015. It’s important to mention the concepts were improved, and every time description of problems from corruption, its forms and methods became more and more concrete. Although programs were created with international institutions recommendations, they had no solid plan of measures, monitoring systems and results’ evaluation.
Current state of reform
In October 2014, a new Anti-corruption strategy for 2014–2017 was accepted, where generally were written elements the previous programs were missing: execution indexes of anti-corruption measures, monitoring, and control system. The strategy points out the following problems, related to corruption.
The inefficiency of anti-corruption bodies. In fact, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and the National Police have anti-corruption functions. Also, the National agency on corruption prevention, the National anti-corruption bureau of Ukraine, the Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office has been created. Besides, there’s the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction and the National Council for Anti-Corruption Policy; the Cabinet of Ministers has its government commissioner on anti-corruption policy. But functions of anti-corruption fight participants’ do not match with international standards. These institutions are not completely independent from political influence, and some of the anti-corruption measures are not controlled by any office. Also, the public doesn’t take part in anti-corruption policy execution.
Corruption-prone elective people. People’s servant who came to government in a dishonest way, by bribing people and garbling election results, has shady data about politic party financing and campaign, and in the end, he lobbies his own business interests and ignores state and people’s interests. Dishonest elections – the first and most important phase where corruption has a chance to get into a state machine. Legislation regulating political parties financing has to minimize all the ways for corruption to get into bodies of power along with dishonest people. You can see details of this in the part ‘Election laws reform’.
Dishonest public servants. Standards of going to public service and serving should be improved to not let public servants abuse power given by the government. Also, classification of positions, delimitation of political and administrative positions, salaries, and discipline responsibilities should be reformed. To make the Ukrainian legislation closer to international ones, they adopted a new law in December 2015. The absence of transparency in central executive authorities works as well as in state enterprises. In fact, the public lacks information about their activity. Also, now there’s no monitoring of anti-corruption measures done by these structures. See more about that in parts ‘Public administration reform’ of and ‘Management of state property reform’.
Corrupted courts, the prosecutor’s office, and internal affairs bodies. If we take anti-corruption reform as mostly reform of ideology and conscience, a physical foundation for it is court reform and police reform. To renew trust for the court system, to build independent and fair court system can be a guarantee of compliance with laws, whether it is a public servant or an average citizen.
Adjusting laws regulating prosecutor’s office and internal affairs bodies work in accordance with international standards is important, too. See more about that in ‘Judicial reform’.
Join of business and power. Corruption in Ukraine is going to last until politics are still businessmen, either directly or indirectly through their relatives and figureheads. And until business influences political processes with the power of money, especially legislation. It is possible to divide politics and business by creating proper laws, providing transparent use of public resources, free competition, transparency of business, and property relationships etc.
The invisibility of corruption. Access to information is the most efficient way to fight corruption; it allows journalists to conduct independent investigations and activates society. Current law about access to public information is confirmed progressive by international experts, but its execution is on rather a low level. As a matter of fact, access to public information is really limited.
Reversal of punishment for corruption. In May 2014, they passed a law ‘About making changes to some legislative acts of Ukraine in the sphere of state anti-corruption policy due to the Plan of actions on the European Union liberalization of visa regime for Ukraine’. Due to this law, the system of prevention and counteraction was improved and now it mostly matches international standards. But current legislation base is missing proper implementation.
Public tolerance to corruption. Corruption blossoms, maybe, primarily because of Ukrainian society tolerance to the fact of its existence; people agree with power abuse and breaking laws if the result of it – citizen’s just a midget profit. That is why forming people’s negative attitude to corruption is essential in the Anti-corruption strategy and in the whole anti-corruption reform, as without society hostile to corruption it will not be possible. Unfortunately, the Anti-corruption strategy has exhausted itself in three years. It should have been structurally changed, given new approaches, and again, guaranteed with the implementation of new laws. For example, the law about access to public information is progressive and relevant, but human factor puts the brake on its implementation.
Inform about the fact of corruption:
0-800-507-001 – the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine hotline on violation of rights of individual entrepreneurs and business entities
0-800-501-482 –the Security Service of Ukraine hotline on especially dangerous violations against the country
0-800-507-309 – the government phone hotline
(044) 256-11-10 – the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine reception
(044) 256-00-31 – the National Agency of Ukraine on Civil Service direct phone line
Also, there’s a list of phone numbers of regional services to inform about corruption violations on the Anti-corruption portal acrc.org.ua.
In 2016 the European Union decided to give about 16 million euros for anti-corruption measures in Ukraine. At the same time, in April 2017 the International Monetary Fund once more approved the program the Ukrainian government accepted to fight corruption, and informed, that, unfortunately, now there are no concrete results achieved, and corruption level, according to international organizations data, is increasing. As well as society displeasure.
Specialized anti-corruption bodies and field if their competence
There’s a process of reforming old and creating new anti-corruption bodies and state structure components going on, as a part of anti-corruption reform. These processes don’t go smoothly because of scandals and intrigues, attempts of manipulation, multiple violations and conflicts of interests between organizations and representatives of the judiciary, the prosecutor’s office and the highest authorities.
Supreme Anti-corruption Court
In July 2016, they passed a law ‘About the judicial system and status of judges’ which provides creating of the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. The new court must have started till March 2018, this obligation is set in a memorandum with the International Monetary Fund. For now, this process is paused as there some laws need to be passed. It’s curious one of the IMF demands is the presence of international experts in qualification board choosing judges to the team of the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court. Results of work of the Special anti-corruption prosecutor’s office and the National anti-corruption bureau depend on the functioning of the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court, so until it’s created, work of these bodies are vain. Also, the EU representatives and a head of the EU anti-corruption initiative supported the idea of creating the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court.
On the other hand, the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court is just a part of structure fighting corruption, as well as the National anti-corruption bureau and the Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office. And this structure is yet to be built.
Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office
In February 2015, they changed the law about the prosecutor’s office and allowed forming of this special division in the system of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine. According to the law, functions of the specialized prosecutor’s office are the following: to monitor the National anti-corruption bureau keeping within the law while holding judicial investigation; to support prosecution on behalf of a state in corresponding cases; to represent citizen’s interests or the state ones in the court in cases, provided by this law and connected to corruption or corruption violations.
The IMF and the Ukrainian government have some arrangements on the Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, which has to provide independence of the anti-corruption institution. They have been written in the law passed in January 2016 about changes in the law ‘About the prosecutor’s office’– about providing transparency in work of the Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office according to the IMF recommendations.
Head of Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office Nazar Kholodnytskyi subordinates directly to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and, he is his deputy. Official page of the prosecutor’s office on Facebook:
National anti-corruption bureau of Ukraine
In April 2015, the president signed a decree about creating of the National anti-corruption bureau. It is law enforcement agency which has responsibilities to investigate and prevent corruption violations committed by authorities. The current head of NABU – Artem Sytnyk. On May 2017, the bureau has been investigating 333 criminal cases. Bureau reports effective work which stops being effective on the phase when criminal cases get into judicial institutions, where they hang about for months. The bureau phone hotline – 0 800 503 200, website — nabu.gov.ua.
National agency on corruption prevention
In October 2014 they passed a law ‘About corruption prevention’, which, among other things, provided creating of the National agency on corruption prevention. But officially, the NACP started working only in August 2016, and under pressure. The most important function of the agency is checking public servant’s declarations and revealing information about the fact of corruption operations. The NACP is the agency providing the Only state register of declarations. The NACP should be a preventive institution, but it is not now. The head of the NACP – Nataliia Korchak, website – nazk.gov.ua.
State bureau of investigations
The law about the State bureau of investigations was passed in November 2015, but anti-corruption law-enforcement agency able to investigate crimes of the highest level still doesn’t exist. According to the Criminal code of Ukraine, it must be done until November 2017. SBI will do authorities crime investigations: judges, ministers, military servants, enforcement officers, workers of the NACP, the Specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office etc. After creating the SBI they will pass prosecutor’s office investigation functions to it. Ukrainian experts unanimously tell us that creating the SBI is essentially important for fighting corruption on the highest level, but to be effective it must be independent. Up to date, functions of the SBI are done by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine.
Renovation of power
In 2014, going by society’s demand, Verkhovna Rada passed the law ‘About cleaning of power’. Some of its points were already in laws passed before the Revolution, but generally, it is a unique document for Ukraine, the first of its kind. This law defines rules of leading lustration among people whose actions or inactions helped the president Yanukovich to usurp power, imperiled national security of Ukraine, and violated people’s constitutional rights and freedoms. The law is used to the government workers, it lists reasons for the government worker to be subjected to lustration.
Public deputies and judges do not get under this law. The process of checking will last ten years from the day the law takes the action. Order of inspections and list of inspection bodies are approved by the Cabinet of ministers of Ukraine decree from 16th of October 2014 – ‘Some issues on realization the Ukrainian law “About cleaning of power”’. Current inspections and their results are published on the government portal kmu.gov.ua. The Ministry of Justice takes responsibility for lustration process. In May 2017, the head of Department on lustration of Ukraine, Anastasiia Zadorozhna, informed in an interview to Deutsche Welle, that power is 98% clean. As she said, there should have got 5000 people under lustration after the law took the action. But how much power has really been cleaned is still a rhetorical question, an average citizen feels corruption lowered on examples: while drawing up documents for building, or while communicating with power representatives – enforcement officers or patrolmen.
May 1993 – the Verkhovna Rada passed a decree ‘About measures of high priority on fighting organized crime and corruption’
August 1994 – the Ukrainian president’s decree ‘Issue of strengthening the fight of corruption and other crimes in economy’
October 1995 – the law ‘About fighting corruption’ came into effect
April 1998 – the Ukrainian president’s decree ‘About the Concept of fighting corruption for 1998–2005’
January 2006 – the Ukrainian president’s decree ‘About the Plan of measures on responsibilities and obligations of Ukraine appeared from its membership in the Council of Europe’
September 2006 – the Ukrainian president’s decree ‘About the Concept fighting corruption in Ukraine “On the way to virtue”’
February 2010 – the Ukrainian president’s decree ‘About creating the National anti-corruption committee’
October 2011 – the Ukrainian president’s decree ‘About national anti-corruption strategy for 2011–2015’
October 2014 – the Anti-corruption strategy for 2014–2017 approved, as well as anti-corruption laws “About the National anti-corruption bureau of Ukraine”, ‘About corruption prevention’ etc.
October 2014 – the National Council on anti-corruption policy created as advisory body for the President of Ukraine
April 2015 – the National anti-corruption bureau of Ukraine created
September 2015 – the specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine created.