As anti-corruption summit meets, Ukraine moves to keep kleptocracy intact



Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday appointed a close ally of President Petro Poroshenko with no legal background as general prosecutor, a position seen by the West as crucial for Kiev’s plans to tackle entrenched corruption, Reuters reports:

To shouts of “shame” from some lawmakers, Poroshenko told parliament that his ally, Yuriy Lutsenko, a former interior minister and head of Poroshenko’s parliamentary faction, would build public trust in the prosecution service.

The appointment may disappoint the European Commission, which like the United States and the International Monetary Fund, has tied aid to Ukraine to Kiev’s performance on corruption and reforms. Brussels had urged Poroshenko to nominate someone seen as independent who had a legal background.

“All his actions will be an imitation of work,” said Yegor Sobolev, a lawmaker from the reformist Samopomich party, which quit Ukraine’s ruling coalition this year.

“The basic idea is making sure that nothing gets done. It is clear that the oligarchs will be untouchable, that the basic units of kleptocracy in the SBU (security service), courts and the prosecutor offices will also remain intact.”

The move coincided with a global anti-corruption summit in Londonwhich Poroshenko declined to attend. A new Global Forum for Asset Recovery will bring together governments and law enforcement agencies to discuss returning assets to Nigeria, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Tunisia, the BBC reports:

The meeting will be held in the US next year, co-hosted with the UK, and supported by the UN and the World Bank. British premier David Cameron made the announcement at a global anti-corruption summit in London on Thursday.

Plans are also underway for an International Anticorruption Coordination Center in London, The New York Times adds….

….in partnership with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States, as well as with Interpol. In a communiqué, participants at the meeting on Thursday outlined pledges to root out bribery and tackle the problem of corruption in many fields, including sports.

Deprived of any peaceful means of redress against an abusive government, even the founders of our own Western democracies rebelled, analyst Sarah Chayes (above, left) told today’s anti-corruption conference in London:

The 16th-century Dutch Revolt, the English Civil War and the American and French revolutions were all bloody affairs. Period documents from these milestones in democratic development indicate that in none of them did protagonists and ordinary citizens turn to violence gladly, but felt compelled to it after exhausting every other avenue and obtaining not the slightest concession.

Most of the public attention has focused on the behaviour of kleptocrats such as president Abacha of Nigeria, or president Marcos of the Philippines, notes one observer:

They and others like them looted their countries and after death were found to have large fortunes invested overseas in a wide variety of assets. Deeply guilty as these rulers were, part of the guilt lies with western institutions; the problem would not reach such massive proportions if it were not possible to move such ill-gotten gains out of the originating country.

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