How To Fix Ukraine’s Corruption Problem

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Ukraine was designed to fail. Borders with Russia, conflicts with Poland and Lithuania, and conflict within Verkhovna Rada(Ukraine’s parliament) have made Ukraine more susceptible to failure. Ukraine faces very high levels of corruption in its government and has dealt with this for a long time. Politicians, especially older ones, in Ukraine lived through an era of the UKR SSR that changed how they view politics. Leonid Kuchma is an example of this. Leonid Kuchma, an old soviet Politician, was probably one of the most corrupt characters in Ukrainian politics, and he served as Ukraine’s president from 1994–2005. Kuchma learned from the ways of old Soviet politicians, and he transferred his expertise to Ukraine. In many ways, Leonid Kuchma was the Ukrainian President who exacerbated Ukraine’s corruption problem. Corruption is not the only thing that Ukraine struggles with; Ukraine struggles with territorial problems, economic problems, and municipal government problems. Not to mention that the Ukrainian government is very centralized.

Corruption is a huge topic when it comes to talking about Ukraine. Ukrainians view corruption as possibly the biggest problem within the state. The biggest problem outside of the state is Russia, but what happens inside Ukraine is equally as important. The reason why Leonid Kuchma allowed corruption to grow was because he wanted to grow his wealth. As all greedy politicians do, Leonid Kuchma gave wealth to himself by using the powers of the government to do so. Kuchma during the privatization of Ukraine gave many private firms to his companions, people that he knew well. Privatization mostly took place during Leonid Kuchma’s Presidency. Leonid Kuchma gave his friends in Verkhovna Rada property so that they would do him favors in government. What this eventually caused was an oligarchy, which led to much greater corruption in Ukraine. Ukraine under Leonid Kuchma reflects Russia under Vladimir Putin, and Putin is doing the same thing in Russia. Putin is a very wealthy person in reality, and he gives his friends wealth as well. Putin promised to destroy the oligarchy in Russia, but instead, he gave wealth to the oligarchs and told them to not get in his way.

Another problem with Ukraine is its relations with Russia. At some times the elites in Verkhovna Rada openly side with the Russia, and at other times the Russia compels elites in Ukraine to do so. One example of this was during the Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency. Viktor Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine(2010–2014) was regarded as one of the weaker Ukrainian presidents. Yanukovych appeared to be openly siding with Russia, and he did flee Ukraine in 2014. He also gave into Putin’s pressuring and did not react swift enough to get a deal with the EU. What this led to was the Maidan Revolution in 2014, which was a progressive movement for the Ukrainians. What Yanukovych tried to do was reduce the amount of Russian influence in the Ukrainian economy. Viktor Yanukovych had the interests of other Ukrainian oligarchs. He wanted less Russian interference in the economy, and he also wanted less Russian oligarchs owning lucrative businesses in Ukraine. Yanukovych repelled Russian oligarchs by not selling state firms to them and decided to move toward EU deals, but was pressured by Putin to move toward joining the Eurasian Economic Union.

Russia has too much power over Ukraine, and that may sound very strange considering that Ukraine is a sovereign state. Vladimir Putin believes that Ukraine is the founding piece of Russia, and that it should rejoin Russia. He makes land claims in Ukraine that are too far stretched, and he makes economic deals with Ukrainians that only benefit Russia. Putin bullied Yanukovych into joining the Eurasian Economic Union, but it was only until the Ukrainian people got involved, that Yanukovych was forced to move back to EU deals. Ukraine cannot join the EU because of corruption in the state, but corruption can be fixed. Ukraine can be fixed by decentralizing it’s government. Decentralization is the way that Ukraine gets fixed.

Corruption occurs when the leaders in a nation have too much power. Corruption occurs when people have too much power over the government, this also extends to large corporations. Ukraine should focus on growing municipal governments. It should also focus on educating its citizens on their rights. The Maidan Revolution was significant because it thought the Ukrainians how to resist. Information moved around social media so fast that Ukrainians were able to assemble against many parliamentary actions. When Yanukovych was making economic deals with Putin, the Ukrainian people got upset over it. Had the Ukrainian people not been informed of the ill actions that Yanukovych was making, then they would not have been able to react to Yanukovych leaving EU deals. Ukraine might have actually joined the Russian-led Eruasian Economic Union if it were not for the people.

The people of Ukraine must have the power, and the power should not only be given to oligarchs. People like Leonid Kuchma made Verkhovna Rada only for the rich and powerful. If Ukraine goes down the path that Kuchma has set for it, then it will be utterly destroyed. Ukraine must strengthen it’s municipal governments, and thus decentralize. Spreading the power throughout the regions of Ukraine and giving it to the people can reduce corruption in parliment. If the power in given to only a few oligarchs, then those oligarchs can abuse that power. Volodymyr Zelenskyy was a very effective President at decentralization. Zelenskyy, a Russian speaking Ukrainian Jew, was able to strip powers from the Ukrainian President, and make the position more impeachable. Thus, Ukrainian Presidents would have to think twice before committing wrongful actions. In conclusion, Ukraine must decentralize itself and move toward the West. Every interaction with Putin has led to the demise of Ukraine. Ukraine can fix itself, but it will take many big steps to get there.

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