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Ukraine passes anti-corruption bills…..and…..

October 8, 2014

Unsurprisingly, today saw the Ukrainian RADA pass (at the first reading) legislation to create an Anti-corruption Bureau – 278 votes in favour, and an anti-corruption strategy 2014 – 2017 with 256 votes in favour.

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To be blunt, there was little choice.  Failure to do so would likely have ended any further IMF lending and when the nation is reduced to the lender of last resort already, it is a case of pass the legislation or be damned.

Very good – except every Ukrainian government since independence has passed a raft of anti-corruption legislation and matters have got worse rather than better.

It is in part due to the fact that Ukrainian legislators seem entirely unable to craft anything approaching well worded legislation, but far more to do with the consistent inability to implement policy effectively – whether it be good, bad and/or counterproductive policy alike.

There is then the small matter that whilst $ tens of millions of small corrupt payments are made annually to minor officials for the most minor of bureaucratic deeds, $ hundreds of millions, possibly several $ billions are subjected to corrupt acts by the legislators themselves, who have Constitutional immunity from prosecution and therefore act with impunity.  Rule by law by the elite, and not equality before the rule of law for everybody.

Whether the new RADA will vote to remove their own immunity remains to be seen – although it is certainly expected by both the Ukrainian constituency and president alike.  Should that occur, then perhaps there is some hope that the fight against corruption may make some steps forward – but how to measure the effectiveness of any new policy?

Corruption by its very nature is not transparent.  Therefore nobody can give an accurate cost  of corruption to the Ukrainian economy.  Any figures banded about are little more than guesstimates.

The lustration law may help by decapitating those who are clearly living beyond their declared means and are unable to account for their wealth when investigated – but the lustration law is severely flawed due to the aforementioned inability of the Ukrainian legislature to craft anything approaching good law.

There is really only one way to fight corruption effectively, and that is a robust dose of transparency that is continuously administered and which has dire results for those found with a terminal infection.

Thus, by making it criminal not to declare assets, by insuring all procurement (less that effecting national security) is publicly recorded and available without any bureaucratic hurdles to gain access to such information, by moving as much local government and governmental financial transactions between public and State from cash to electronic monetary transfers (tax, permits, administration fees etc) – and all the other obvious and basic stuff where ever and when ever possible there is a start that will probably have an effect.

Is there a role for “secret shoppers”?  Would that be seen as entrapment?  The parameters and limitations before becoming agent provocateur?

But what of deterrence when any offenders will be subjected to a corrupt law enforcement and judicial system?  If it remains possible to pay off and/or threaten the police, the prosecutor or the judge – and it is possible to bribe and/or coerce any of these institutions to gain a result in your favour – there needs to be both a deterrent for the corrupt, those who facilitate that corruption, and also transparency in the legal process too.

Is there a need to introduce minimum tariffs for those found guilty of, and facilitating corruption?

Are mandatory sentencing parameters (scaled proportionately) whereby incarceration is guaranteed for any offender or facilitator found guilty of corruption a deterrent that would work in concert with all the obvious methods of removing as many opportunities for corruption as is practicable?

There will always be those who see the returns worthy of the risks when engaged in corrupt acts.  Corruption will never be eradicated.

How to measure the success of these new anti-corruption measures?  And against what?  When 2018 comes and then current strategy ends, who deems it a “success”?  Who decides, who decides it has been a success or failure as a policy?

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2 comments

  1. Measurement tool in Ukraine – if there’s no Maidan #2 until 2018, then anti-corruption measures have been successful 🙂


    • Not necessarily the best of measures as it will be simply one of perception. I haven’t been asked for a bribe in almost 6 years, but my perception is that Ukraine suffers from endemic corruption despite my own personal experience. Thus perception may rightly or wrongly lead to another Maidan despite actual results.



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