The summer is over for everyone, including Ukraine’s students, workers and lawmakers.
Ukraine’s parliament went on summer break without adopting key reforms in pensions, health care, privatization, the agricultural land market and defense, as well as not setting up a critically important anti-corruption court that could at last deliver a measure of justice.
Without the changes, the International Monetary Fund will not start relending, investors won’t start flocking to Ukraine and the economy will not improve for millions of impoverished people.
Yet the grip of the oligarchy — led by President Petro Poroshenko — remains strong. Poroshenko, while fashioning himself as a pro-Western reformer, is in reality the main obstacle to progress in a lot of these areas. Again, don’t take the Kyiv Post’s word for it. Most Ukrainians don’t read English, let alone the Kyiv Post, but have come to the same conclusion about him: disapproval. The frightening prospect remains that his failure to lead on genuine reforms could lead to the election of other candidates with even worse agendas: Yuriy Boiko, the close ally of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, comes to mind.
Consequently, corrupt schemes are still flourishing that continue to fleece Ukraine’s beleaguered citizens as some of the nation’s cheerleaders choose to look away and hush any expression of dissent. They prove once again that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. The higher form of true patriotism, in our view, is not to hide what’s wrong — but to confront problems head-on with solutions.
One of the more recent scandals to go public, thanks to civil society activists and reformist lawmakers, is the highly questionable way in which law enforcement authorities seized $1.5 billion in assets stolen by Yanukovych, who fled the Euro-Maidan Revolution on Feb. 22, 2014. Since then, we’ve come to learn that Yanukovych and his cronies, besides selling out to Russia, stole as much as $40 billion during his four-year rule.
Rather than making asset recovery a priority, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko set the nation up to be on the losing end of any lawsuit over those confiscated proceeds. He shrouds the seizure in secrecy.
Now we know that significant amounts of money are going to Poroshenko’s friends, such as agricultural tycoon Yuriy Kosiuk, and others who have fleeced the nation, such as Oleh Bakhmatiuk, whose banks failed because of insider or fraudulent lending. He owes taxpayers more than $1 billion, but has friends in high places, so he’s avoided criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.
The nation appears to be seizing assets that were stolen to redistribute to people who might have stolen them. This is not progress. It is more evidence that enemies within could defeat Ukraine’s progress.
And Sergii Leshchenko, the member of parliament who specializes in exposing corruption, claims that an ally of Viktor Medvedchuk, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s friend, is scheming to rig imports of liquified petroleum gas, corner the market and drive up prices. These and other schemes must be broken up. Those who put their personal fortunes ahead of the national interest, especially at a time of war, are traitors, not patriots.