Few politicians in the world have had to undergo the same experience twice in their career and in different countries, notes Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia from 2004 to 2013 and the governor of Odessa, Ukraine, from May 2015 to November 2016. Yet this is exactly what happened to me, he writes for The New York Times:
The final straw for me came when the online disclosures of Ukrainian officials’ personal wealth, the so-called e-declarations, were published last month. Here were the very public servants with whom I had to work on a daily basis shamelessly declaring the millions of dollars they had stashed under their mattresses.
It was the decades-long rule of this post-Soviet kleptocratic elite that turned this potentially wealthy nation into one of the poorest countries in Europe. Ukraine need not be poor, but corrupt officials have systematically pillaged the country, robbing Ukrainians of the prosperity that should be theirs.
Corruption and poor economic performance are key factors behind public frustration with the government, according to a new nationwide poll (above) from Ukraine by the International Republican Institute (IRI), a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy.
Until now, Ukraine’s old corrupt establishment has discouraged and blocked young reformers from assuming leadership positions in the public sector. I am pledged to help change that, Saakashvili adds. RTWT