Does anyone know a particularly loathed publication I can try to submit this schlock to?
Will Ukraine’s Reforms catch up with Corruption? Or will Corruption outrun Reforms?
By Sergei Khuinia
This week the news from Kiev was once again dominated by two well-worn topics which are crucial to the future of Ukraine- corruption and reforms.
Some say there have not been enough reforms. These people say that there is more corruption than reforms. Others say the reforms are working, but there need to be stronger, more numerous reforms if they are to offset the impact of corruption in Ukraine. Still others believe that there have been too many reforms and not enough corruption, and lastly there are those who have expressed their satisfaction with the quantity of both corruption and reforms.
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has long been an advocate of reforms, and routinely spoke out against corruption. Ex-Georgian president Saakashvili, now the governor of the Odessa region, also routinely speaks about the problems of corruption and the need for reforms. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is also deeply concerned about the pace of reforms and the rise or decline of corruption in the country. But the question remains, is mere concern enough to increase reforms and decrease corruption, or perhaps decrease reforms and increase corruption, if it turns out this obtains better results for Ukraine?
Outside of Ukraine, two parties that have an interest in speeding up or slowing down reforms and increasing or decreasing corruption are the United States and its European allies on one side, and Russia and its ally Syria on the other. US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt recently told the Rada that speeding reforms and fighting corruption is important. Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk agreed, in spite of their political differences. Russian president and ex-KGB agent Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is hoping that Ukrainian reforms will fail, or be too slow to catch up with corruption. However, some analysts believe that Putin is trying to play a long game, hoping that reforms will be too quick and eliminate corruption so rapidly that there will be no possibility for reform in Ukraine’s future. In any case, most experts agree that corruption in Ukraine is generally a bad thing, and Ukraine definitely requires additional reforms.
Apart from the war in the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country, corruption and reform are among the highest concerns for Ukrainians after 2014’s Euromaidan revolution. The movement began with massive protests against corruption and demand for reforms, all so that Ukraine could join Europe instead of remaining in Asia, where it is still currently located. But nearly two years after the revolutionary movement for reforms that drove out pro-corruption, anti-reforms president Viktor Yanukovych, many are left wondering exactly how much reform has there been, and whether or not corruption has increased or decreased.
“I came out to the Maidan because I love reforms and hate corruption,” said Mykola, a 22-year-old espresso dealer working on Independence Square, the very same place where Maidan protesters demanded more reforms and an end or at least significant decrease for corruption back in 2014.
“But now I’m not so sure we’ve had enough reforms, because there is still corruption. Just what was Maidan about? Corruption or reforms?”
Other Ukrainians we spoke to disagreed, such as one souvenir shop owner we met on Kiev’s historic Khreshchatyk boulevard.
“No see, the problem is there have been too many reforms,” Taras the shopkeep told our correspondent. “You get too many reforms, and of course you’re going to see an increase in corruption. What Poroshenko should have done is increased corruption and slow reforms. Then things would balance out.”
Controversy over reforms and corruption has spilled beyond Ukraine’s borders to analysts around the world, who continually debate exactly where Ukraine is in terms of reforms and corruption. Have there been enough reforms? If so, are they fast enough? Are many reforms a good thing if they are also slow at the same time? Or would fast, numerous reforms be more efficient in the fight against corruption? And on that note, how much corruption is there, is it increasing or decreasing, and how fast either way?
While academics, politicians, journalists, and ordinary Ukrainians continue to debate the topic of reforms and corruption in Ukraine, one fact is certain. Ukraine is a country where there are reforms, some of which have been carried out, but possibly not enough, or perhaps not fast enough. Along with this, Ukraine also has some quantifiable amount of corruption, though it’s not clear if it is increasing, decreasing, or staying the same, at what pace, and in what relationship to the reforms.
Sergei Khuinia is a fellow at the Institute for Reforms and Corruption in Ukraine. He holds a Ph.D in reforms, an M.A. in corruption, and gives courses on corruption and reforms at DeVry university. He has recently published a book, entitled Corruption and Reform in Post-Maidan Ukraine: An Analysis of the Interrelationship Between Corruption and Reforms in Ukraine.