Home Europe Will Ukraine’s New President Deal With Corruption?

Will Ukraine’s New President Deal With Corruption?

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky arrives at the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly on September 24, 2019 in New York City. World leaders are gathered for the 74th session of the UN amid a warning by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his address yesterday of the looming risk of a world splitting between the two largest economies - the U.S. and China. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

“Existing corruption in Ukraine will be the hardest obstacle to overcome in the coming decade as expressed by Eli Kaul”

Nicolai Petro states that former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko’s promotion of the “fifth column” – a group that favors in having good connections with Russia, convinced the majority of Ukrainian citizens to give the triumph to Volodymyr Zelensky in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections.

Petro is convinced that Zelensky’s large support came from his desire to have relations with Russia. As Petro’s main concern is in Zelensky’s avoidance of nationalism in his time, one more reason why the present president gains such support is his goal to solve Ukraine’s political problems such as, corruption, ineffectiveness, and influence of the oligarchy in the country’s economy.

Though many Ukrainians from Kyviv, Lyviv, Vinnytsis, Zhytomir and Odessa bad-mouth Russia’s part in Eastern Ukraine’s conflict, they still continue to believe in their solid bonds of history and culture.The elected council in Ukraine share the same dysfunctions in Russia and other past Soviet Republics, at the same time, disagreements in the history of Slavic interpretation overflow. In reality, the citizens of Ukraine are not against the people of Russia, but in its dictatorial type of government.

Another major contributor to the Zelensky election is not only its conflicts with the East, but the undending corruption and ineffectiveness of Ukraine’s own political system. Porenshko’s promises to stop these pathologies in Ukraine’s system was the reason he got elected, which until now is undone. Even economic problems in peaceful areas of Ukraine haven’t shown any progress. Citizens are levied to pay 18 percent income tax and have no choice but to pay 20 percent sales tax while firms impose an 18 percent income tax rate. In 2018, the Ukrainian government totaled 540 billion Ukrainian hryvnia in tax revenue and yet no improvements were visible in their infrastructure, healthcare, education, and other organizations that benefit the society. The beginning of a new law enforcement organization – the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, made no difference in the continuance of corruption within the lower ranks of government. This is due to the problem in the system itself, which cause those who have no interest in corruption to yield to ways that produce more profit, even with the efforts for reformation.

People who consider studying organized crime know how common initiation rituals work. Leaders of criminal groups tasks their members to commit serious crimes in order to prove their loyalty, but sadly use this loyalty against their members when necessary. Unfortunately, this is also the practice of the government itself. The lower ranks of the government are tested by the higher ranks to complete tasks that are even illegal. In spite of visible inaccuracies in some projects, lower ranks personnel are pressured to sign documents for questionable projects to push through. One case is the glass bridge built in a prominent city park. The mayor and other politicians were present at its grand opening and praised its grandeur, but after some time, some parts had to be closed for safety concerns. In this case, the higher ranks declared their expectation of these technical difficulties, yet those who will pay for the price are the lower ranks who were pressured to sign for the project. In order for change to be possible, one must investigate the system and stand up for what is right for Ukraine’s organization, even if it will costs never obtaining a promotion.

The younger generation of Ukrainians have lesser opportunities for long term stability in their employment due to the existing system. Individuals are pushed to search for one or more jobs until they get promoted. The majority of older generation only collect about $100/month from their pensions, so they venture for vending merchandises on the street. To be able to survive, the Ukrainians believe in the idea of libertarianism, which emphasizes freedom of choice. Providing for yourself and your family even with forbidden mechanisms will be enough as long as you have enough money for bribery. Zelensky’s use of libertarianism in his speech has contributed to the progress of corruption within Ukraine despite initial efforts.

Oligarchy has maintained the legacy of Soviet Ukraine’s existing factionalization. The 2019 presidential and Rada elections demonstrated vote buying by providing the elder generation, preferably those from the country’s periphery, their basic necessities, on the other hand, buying free concert tickets to the younger generation. Bargaining has become a common tactic of the running factions in obtaining the support of the people. Even in the presence of present reforms that aim at cleaning the electoral process, still illegal mechanisms in the system persists due to weaknesses and loopholes found in it. Moreover, theft in public funds have been prevalent due to the belief that the funding doesn’t really belong to anyone.

Hopefully, the present administration will make drastic changes to clean up Ukraine’s present political system. Zelensky has started by publicly critizing present ineffective managers as an effort to promote system purification. Eliminating present inefficient offices or merging offices to clarify tasks, and holding them accountable for completing assigned tasks also should be strictly implemented. This will be a huge task for the present administration which will force Zelensky himself to work with old and existing political actors.

The presence of nationalism in Ukraine and ironically the desire of those in power to tie up with Western and Eastern countries cannot compare to the main problem of Ukraine– the persistence of corruption.

The presidential election turned out to be impressive in the hopes of giving a political outsider a chance to change the current problematic system. But weeks after taking power, oligarchy and continued corrupt practices has blurred the chances of a better government. No visible actions have been undertaken by the new administration to cleanse the government of its illegal practices. This will only be possible if Zelensky’s party will take action in controlling the council. Unfortunately, it seems that it will only take a matter of time for the new administration to merge with the old administration’s corrupt practices.

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