Re­gres­sion

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

Ukraine’s post-Euro-Maidan Rev­o­lu­tion po­lit­i­cal lead­ers still haven’t got­ten around to re­form­ing the na­tion’s po­lice, pros­e­cu­tors and courts – de­spite the grand­stand­ing PR shows they put on be­fore Western au­di­ences.

The fact re­mains that, aside from mostly cos­metic changes, most of the same old po­lice, pros­e­cu­tors and judges are in place from de­posed Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych’s era and ear­lier ones.

The key statis­tic re­mains: Ukraine, three years af­ter the rev­o­lu­tion, has not tried and con­victed any­one for any high-pro­file mur­ders or large-scale cor­rup­tion. It’s worth re­peat­ing: No­body has been brought to justice. In the process, they have propped up and pro­tected a cor­rupt oli­garchy with Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko at its rot­ten head.

They will try to ob­scure this fact with a smoke­screen of charts and long dis­cus­sions about the “process,” but that’s not what mat­ters most: re­sults do.

The main per­son to blame for the dread­ful lack of progress is Poroshenko, who not only is the na­tion’s chief ex­ec­u­tive but com­mands parliament’s largest fac­tion.

And while we’re on the is­sue of parliament, they still can’t find the time to lift their own le­gal im­mu­nity from crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion.

Yet in blaz­ing speed this month, they en­acted sweep­ing de­mands that all non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions dis­close not only their sources of fund­ing, which is a very rea­son­able re­quest, but also re­quires each in­di­vid­ual em­ployee to dis­close their in­comes and as­sets, which is not.

The ar­gu­ment of Poroshenko and his shills is that NGOs should be treated no dif­fer­ently than pub­licly elected of­fi­cials paid by tax­pay­ers or pow­er­ful pub­lic of­fi­cials with the power to tax, ar­rest, try and con­vict or­di­nary cit­i­zens – while, in the case of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and oth­ers – put them­selves above the law.

This is ridicu­lous. What’s re­ally hap­pen­ing is an­other smoke­screen to mask what au­thor­i­ties are re­ally af­ter – an­other “le­gal” tool for in­tim­i­dat­ing or sup­press­ing non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ists who re­ceive fund­ing from them.

Rus­sia’s Vladimir Putin and other world dic­ta­tors are not the only ones tak­ing ad­van­tage of Western dis­ar­ray, led by the un­sta­ble and pos­si­bly crim­i­nal U. S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump.

Lead­ers like Poroshenko, who ob­vi­ously en­vies the au­to­cratic pow­ers he sees all around him by coun­ter­parts in Turkey, Be­larus and Rus­sia, also seize upon Western and U.S. weak­ness.

He sees that Trump doesn’t care about hu­man rights, free­dom of the press or trans­parency in gov­ern­ment, so why should he? The dan­ger is that weak­ness at the top in Amer­ica will fil­ter down to the U. S. Em­bassy in Ukraine, which ap­pears to be re­luc­tant to pub­licly crit­i­cize Ukraine’s lead­ers for back­slid­ing on democ­racy and the anti-cor­rup­tion fight.

The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem in Ukraine, as ex­iled ex-Rus­sian lawmaker Ilya Pono­marev told the Kyiv Post in an in­ter­view this week, is that Ukraine’s politi­cians are even less pa­tri­otic than Rus­sia’s klep­to­crats.

“In Rus­sia, we have our mother, but we have Mother Rus­sia as well,” he said. “Ukraini­ans don’t have Mother Ukraine. They have their own moth­ers and their own house. That’s why politi­cians make their sac­ri­fices for their per­sonal ben­e­fit, not for the na­tion.

“They are not be­hav­ing as Rus­sian elites ei­ther,” he said. “They want this coun­try for them­selves to rob. They don’t want Rus­sians to rob it. They don’t want Euro­peans to rob it. They don’t want Amer­i­cans to rob it. They want to pil­lage it for them­selves.”

Poroshenko’s sup­port­ers also be­lieve that a pres­i­dent at war should not be crit­i­cized, in ef­fect ask­ing ev­ery­one to ex­cuse all the cor­rup­tion. For the umpteenth time: Cor­rup­tion weak­ens the state. Pa­tri­otic Ukraini­ans and their sup­port­ers will not let this hap­pen.

We don’t want rev­o­lu­tion be­cause we see the enor­mous costs, but we do want real change and im­prove­ment.

Poroshenko got a ma­jor­ity of Ukraini­ans to vote for him in 2014 with the slo­gan: “I’m not as bad as Yanukovych.” It worked splen­didly then – he won 54 per­cent of the vote in a first-round vic­tory that should have been his sig­nal to at­tack the cor­rupt oli­garchy. He failed to seize the mo­ment.

This slo­gan won’t work again in 2019, mer­ci­fully only two years away, when he is up for re-elec­tion. He will have to prove him­self as a demo­crat who de­liv­ered re­sults. So far he’s earn­ing a fail­ing grade and rapidly run­ning out of time as he keeps abus­ing a na­tion’s pa­tience.

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