Why the European Heracles is weak against Ukrainian corruption
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Why the European Heracles is weak against Ukrainian corruption

Tuesday, 10 January 2017
This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Ukraine's Economy Minister Aivarus Abromavicius quits over corruption

A recent resolution by a monitoring committee from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stipulates that the fight against corruption in Ukraine is “too slow and specific results – too limited”. Prior, the European community was shocked of the enormous wealth that civil servants amass from this Eastern European country. The  information was collected following the implementation of obligatory E-declaration of income as part of fulfilling terms with the European Union.

So why does the situation in Ukraine pose serious reason for concern for the European community? Reforms in the country make no progress, corruption flourishes, semi-legal and illegal income of civil servants of the highest echelon and heads of state-owned enterprises is accumulated in different ways on bank accounts opened in Europe. Ultimately, relevant EU law-enforcement agencies have to deal with them.

Aivaras Abromavicius, a Lithuanian businessman, invited in 2014 to fill the post as Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine, and implement systemic reforms, resigned at the beginning of 2016. He explained it by having no desire “to serve as a screen for obvious corruption or controlled puppet for the people who want to see better management of state funds”, and he also accused a close companion of President Poroshenko and member of the Parliament, Ihor Kononenko, of blocking the work of his ministry.

It is obvious that Abromavicius already had understood the situation by then, namely, why European businesses stopped considering Ukraine attractive from an investment point of view. In the current climate, civil servants and heads of state-owned enterprises consider such enterprises as “feudal estates bestowed by the king to his vassal”. A ruling “king”, in particular, President Poroshenko and his “vassals” are not interested in changing the rules of the game and get closer to European 21st century models. In addition, immersing Ukraine in medieval times, “vassals” are making all effort to legalize their accrued capital in the West, particularly, in Europe.

Following efforts by Aivaras Abromavicius to combat several cases of corruption in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016, his opponents even used threats to force Mr Abromavicius to leave Ukraine after his resignation in spite of the fact that he had Ukrainian citizenship.

Apparently, the current Ukrainian elite does not really need any systemic reforms and the issues related to property management in this country are solved, as before, mainly with the help of a corrupt judicial system and armed people.