Taming Ukraine’s oligarchs?


Ukraine’s oligarchic forces continue to push back against the reform efforts that have dominated the political agenda since 2014, notes Serhiy Verlanov, the former Head of Ukraine’s State Tax Service. Thanks to a number of dubious court rulings predominantly by the Constitutional Court, the anti-corruption architecture established over the past six years is now under threat, as are many other landmark reforms, he writes for the Atlantic Council:

This counter-revolution should come as no surprise. Ukraine’s historic bid to integrate into the Western world is not in the interests of the country’s oligarchs, who have much to lose from the establishment of a level playing field and an independent judiciary. This explains why various oligarch clans are now working to undermine cooperation with Ukraine’s international partners such as the EU and the IMF, while at the same time promoting anti-Western narratives via their media platforms.

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The Anti-corruption Action Centre (ANTAC – a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy), the country’s premier watchdog, says such legal challenges are a stubborn effort to re-establish the sort of kleptocratic order that existed under Viktor Yanukovych, a disgraced ex-president, and to sabotage Ukraine’s turn towards the West. The constitutional court is “the most protected organ in the country,” says Olena Shcherban, ANTAC’s chief legal expert. If Mr Zelensky wants to salvage his presidency, he will have to take it on.

Corruption and kleptocracy corrode democracy where authoritarians are on the march, say Brookings analyst Patrick W. Quirk and Daniel Twining, President of the International Republican Institute.

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