CAN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT DEFEAT CORRUPTION WITHOUT MAKING SYSTEMIC CHANGES?

Over twenty years ago, Washington Post published an article, and the main topic of it was “the growing level of corruption” in Ukraine. That article caused me letter to the editor that WP preferred not to publish; it was published by the Ukrainian Weekly (The Ukrainian Weekly, March 16, 1997, No. 11, Vol. LXV).

Since then, I am trying to explain to politicians and to educate public about the nature of corruption in Ukraine and on the Soviet Union territory in general, as well as advising what would be and should be the best way for fighting corruption in Ukraine.

Well, they don’t listen, they don’t follow, they don’t want even to understand the real nature of corruption.

That’s they are fighting corruption unsuccessfully, spending a lot of money on that fight and actually turning corruption fighting into a business and to a part of corruption itself.

Raised in a completely corrupted society, addicted to corrupt behavior and habits, Ukrainian politicians and the entire society are fighting corruption not because they want to, but because they have to as the outside world demands.

Ukrainian government and parliament have to create one anti-corruption agency after another as investigative or watchdog agency to keep eyes on other law enforcement agencies. But still there is no desired results because they mostly fight or undermine each other by taking advantage of corrupted courts.

Now, Ukraine has created a special anti-corruption court, and president Petro Poroshenko is celebrating the victory – as he believes – in the last battle in defeating corruption (My goal is to defeat corruption in Ukraine – The Washington Post).

It is possible that this particular battle over an anti-corruption court creation can be considered as a big victory and more and more corrupted officials will be caught and jailed. But I am not sure that this somehow will help to win the war on corruption.

The problem is that the whole fight against corruption in Ukraine is to expose and condemn corruptors, that is, to combat the consequences of corruption, but nothing is bring done to eliminate the causes of corruption.

Chinese experience suggests that even a public capital punishment of corruptors does not stop others from taking adventage of easy wealth building when the circumstances themselves contribute to this – too much temptation.

A completely corrupted society always gives a chance or even chances to avoid to be caught and punished.

The authoritarian-totalitarian social order and the administrative-command mode of government that Ukraine inherited from the USSR, created and continues to create favorable conditions for the growth and prosperity of corruption.

In this coordinate system, there always exist opportunities for benefits from being in power, for not being caught when committing a crime and for getting away unpunished.

So, to win the war on corruption and to get awarded by whatever a society and a government with the lowest possible level of corruption have, Ukrainian society needs systemic changes.

To achieve this goal, Ukraine had to get as far away as possible from Russian influence, because Russia is the major beneficiary of totally corrupted Ukrainian society and Ukrainian government. Actually, Muscovites were those who brought most of corruption to Ukraine.

So, the very first step in systematic changes ought to be Ukrainization of Ukraine. I know, for some it may sound like something horrible. Nothing like that!

Ukrainization is about rebuilding Ukrainian legacy and traditions. Everyone who will understand a need of this and accept it, will realize how fruitful, productive and beneficial it can be for Ukraine and Ukrainians of any ethnic background.

The second step is to be rebirthing Ukrainian Cossack traditions of democratic governing and securing the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We can see such traditions working for Switzerland – a small country in the center of Europe which even Hitler preferred not to invade.

The third step is clearing, cleaning and securing Ukrainian information sovereignty and information space to keep out Kremlin propaganda. This ought to be done by building a strong Ukrainocentric Media system.

Finally, the most important part of systemic changes is replacing the authoritarian-totalitarian social order and the administrative-command mode of government that Ukraine inherited from the USSR, by qualitatively new social order and mode of governing based on Ukrainian historical traditions and customs that effectively used to work for centuries and long time before Moscovites brought in to Ukraine their Asian rules and behavior.

With these changes, Ukraine will defeat corruption, oligarchy and other obstacles not allowing her to develop and prosper as one of the major players of world politics and the civilization.

That actually all that any Ukrainocentric president can and should know, understand and do when leading his/her country.

Volodymyr Ivanenko
Ukrainian University

June 18, 2018.

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