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Progress Against Corruption in Ukraine

FILE - People holding a Ukrainian flag pose for a photo in Kyiv's Independence Square.

Some anticorruption measures since Ukraine’s current government was elected in 2014 have been significant.

The corrosive nature of corruption is well-known. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has stated, corruption “fuels instability and robs innocent people of their due and their possibilities.” Secretary Kerry also said that as “deeply rooted as corruption can be in some countries, it is not inevitable.”

Progress Against Corruption in Ukraine
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One country that has made strides in fighting corruption is Ukraine. At a panel discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, William Brownfield, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, noted that Ukraine’s Maidan revolution, which started in 2013, was largely a public response to rampant corruption. Taking to the streets, the Ukrainian people, at the cost of 100 lives, stood up and said, “We want change.”

Assistant Secretary Brownfield observed that the some anticorruption measures since Ukraine’s current government was elected in 2014 have been significant. For example, the government has implemented a system in which property must be registered online; and government contracts must be procured online making arrangements previously made behind closed doors public. Additionally, the government has established new rules relating to campaign finance and media ownership.

Assistant Secretary Brownfield said, however, “the solution to corruption is not just technical, it is also in the institutions themselves.” He noted that the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL, has spent $25 million on assisting Ukraine to build transparent, effective institutions. Those efforts include helping train and equip the Ukrainian Border Guard Service and a new national patrol police force; aiding an NGO-run vetting center that will vet all police and personnel throughout the government; and supporting a new Inspector General in the Prosecutor General’s office.

In addition, INL is providing grants to several civil society organizations to monitor Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts and to offer recommendations for greater solutions as the government of Ukraine advances its reform efforts.

But, as Vice President Biden said recently before the Ukrainian Rada, “not enough has been done yet.” He called for more reforms in the Office of the General Prosecutor, the judiciary, and energy sector. He pressed for more transparency in official sources of income and accountability of oligarchs. This is why the Vice President announced almost $190 million in new American assistance to help Ukraine fight corruption, strengthen rule of law, implement reforms, bolster civil society and advance energy security.