Today, the activities of state institutions in Ukraine, as in many other countries with less developed management systems, are permeated with corruption schemes. Citizens see corruption, especially at the highest level, as one of the country’s biggest challenges, along with Russian aggression. In particular, according to Transparency International, in 2019 Ukraine took 126th place in the Corruption Promotion Index. Our neighbors in the ranking were Azerbaijan, Djibouti and Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, the Index is formed on the basis of a survey on corruption in public administration and does not cover domestic corruption, or means, bribes to police, doctors, teachers, etc. Promote Ukraine asked experts how corruption manifests itself in Ukraine and how the state should fight it?
Oleksandr Talamanchuk, Lawyer
Almost every citizen of Ukraine is familiar with corruption. Medicine, education, police, courts and other institutions are now completely affected by the virus of corruption. On one’s own initiative, or as a result of extortion, a person gives a bribe fo those “services” that he must receive in accordance with the law, or for the right to receive “services” of the state on “special conditions.” Thus, the allegations are related to corruption: corruption complicates life in society. It develops due to low salaries in the state apparatus. Without a bribe it is difficult to obtain any material benefits. Society has a negative attitude towards corruption, but every second person agrees to give a bribe to solve their problems quickly.
What are the solutions to reduce corruption in our country? In my opinion, it is necessary to introduce a rule according to which under any circumstances the head is responsible for the failure allowed by his immediate subordinates. For example, if the deputy head of the regional police department is caught taking a bribe, he receives a prison term, and the head of the regional department is reduced in rank, and so, everywhere and in everything.
The main solutions are the following:
- Political will to fight corruption from above.
- Developed system of civil control from below.
- Transparency in the work of state bodies, by translating all documents into electronic form with public access.
- Deprivation of government officials of any advantages over other citizens (destruction of the system of privileges).
- Equality of all people before the law (deprivation of the elite of de facto immunity and inviolability).
Oleksandr Khmelevsky, Independent Expert
Despite the fact that Ukraine has made many efforts in recent years to combat corruption, implemented the main recommendations of the international community, including the establishment of NABU, the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption, the Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, the Anti-Corruption Court, these measures appeared to be ineffective.
Anti-corruption bodies have joined the fight against each other, bringing cases against each other. Even NABU Chairman Artem Sytnyk, who was vacationing on a hunting farm in the Rivne region at someone else’s expense, was accused of corruption. The inability to overcome corruption is explained by the penetration of business into the power structures of Ukraine and the creation of oligocracy.
In fact, power in Ukraine today is controlled by several financial and industrial groups. They nominate their representatives in presidential and parliamentary elections, form executive bodies, law enforcement and judicial bodies. They also control most of Ukraine’s media.
Oligarchic clans use public authorities for personal enrichment through the adoption of lobbying laws, public procurement, state aid through subsidies and other preferences. Corruption of the ruling elite contributes to the development of corruption among officials as well. Corruption pyramids have been formed in many authorities as when an official has to pay money for his position to his boss, and he passes some of them further up.
The development of corruption in Ukraine was also facilitated by the weakness of state institutions. Ukraine did not have its statehood for many years, and its formation coincided with the formation of market relations and the initial accumulation of capital, when the law and public morality were often neglected in the name of enrichment.
Traditional anti-corruption methods are ineffective. In our conditions, total corruption can be overcome only by dictatorial methods by agreeing to restrictions on the rights and freedoms of citizens, in particular with regard to criminal investigations and trials. It is no secret that under the current Criminal and Criminal Procedure Codes it is almost impossible to prosecute a person who has money and connections.
A necessary condition in the fight against corruption is the complete renewal of the authorities, including law enforcement agencies and courts. Officials, deputies, law enforcement officers, and judges suspected of corruption should be barred from holding public office or running in elections. The practice of attracting business people to public positions should be stopped. Only radical measures will overcome corruption in Ukraine. Without this, any development of our country is impossible and its very existence is under threat.
Maria Emelianenko, Political Observer, Communications Coordinator of the Program “eGovernment for Government Accountability and Community Participation (EGAP)”
In Ukrainian society, corruption is a multifaceted phenomenon and its vectors are aimed at the people – the source of power. They affect all areas of human activity (economy, politics, finance, ideology, etc.). Therefore, the effective fight against these illegal actions must be comprehensive, systemic, which will include in its strategy: awareness of the dangers of corruption and its consequences, prevention of corruption and effective protection of citizens’ rights.
Let us consider the elections in Ukraine. Over the last 20 years, the participation of official observers from NGOs and international organisations in the elections in Ukraine has been growing, which usually contributes to democracy, openness of elections and recognition of the legitimacy of their results. However, such a phenomenon as corruption in the electoral process – one of the most serious manifestations of political corruption – still remains relevant.
Obviously, the role of the public needs to be strengthened in order to prevent corruption in the election process and during the election campaign. In order to effectively fight and combat corruption in elections, representatives of public organizations need to:
- Carry out large-scale educational activities among the population on the real and potential threats of corruption.
- Promote a positive experience in combating corruption in the electoral process with the provision of guidelines and the publication of manuals.
- Organise public anti-corruption monitoring of the election process, including election legislation.
- Strengthen control over the activities of political parties in relation to their financial condition and internal economic order.
- Regulate and strengthen control over contributions to elections and other political goals.
- Strengthen civil society structures and their impact on the political system and elections.
- Advocate for the establishment of clear legislative mechanisms regulating possible forms of use of administrative resources in order to significantly prevent the use of political corruption schemes in the election process.
- Facilitate the reform of the judiciary to ensure its real impartiality and independence.
- Lobby the review and analysis of regulations and procedures that hide potential opportunities for corruption in the election process. And also make changes that will prevent the emergence of any criminal schemes of political and corrupt activities, etc.
The merging of corruption with the consciousness of the citizens of Ukraine as an integral element of political relations devalues the institution of elections. Therefore, at the present stage of development it is necessary for Ukraine to develop a comprehensive anti-corruption program, coordinate the political will to combat this phenomenon and the practical implementation of the developed strategy. An integral part is the participation of members of the public from leading NGOs involved in monitoring the election process, as well as academics and representatives of independent media.