Ukraine stunned as political elite’s vast wealth made public



An anti-corruption reform requiring senior Ukrainian officials to declare their wealth online has exposed a vast difference between the fortunes of politicians and those they represent, Reuters reports:

Some declared millions of dollars in cash. Others said they owned fleets of luxury cars, expensive Swiss watches, diamond jewelry and large tracts of land – revelations that could further hit public confidence in the authorities in Ukraine, where the average salary is just over $200 per month. Officials had until Sunday to upload details of their assets and income in 2015 to a publicly searchable database, part of an International Monetary Fund-backed drive to boost transparency and modernize Ukraine’s recession-hit economy.

The revelations will enhance concern about the political elite’s kleptocratic tendencies, observers suggest.

Corruption and poor economic performance are key factors behind public frustration with the government, according to a new nationwide poll from Ukraine by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research:

The number of respondents who feel the country is going in the wrong direction remained steady at 72 percent, while a majority of Ukrainians (51 percent) strongly disapprove of the Cabinet of Ministers under the leadership of Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroisman. Pessimism about the economy is also high, with a combined total of 74 percent saying the economic situation in Ukraine has either “worsened somewhat” or “worsened a lot.” This is further illustrated by the fact that 18 percent of Ukrainians report that they need to save money to buy food, and an additional 35 percent report need to save to buy clothing and shoes.

“This poll reinforces the trend of frustration among Ukrainian citizens that we’ve seen in previous polls, and indicates that the window of opportunity for the government to build public support is rapidly closing,” said Stephen Nix, IRI Regional Director, Eurasia. “While certain anti-corruption measures, such as the creation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, are an important step in the right direction, the government must double down on these efforts to deliver a better future for the Ukrainian people.”

IRI is a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy.

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