Kyiv Post

Victories fade

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It took two revolution­s and a war to push Ukrainian government officials to finally move forward with the much‑needed reforms.

Now, one person with immense powers and vast popular support is disman‑ tling — or allowing others to dismantle — the post‑revolution achievemen­ts of Ukrainian reformers.

President Volodymyr Zelensky came to power promising fast changes. Unfortunat­ely, the destructio­n of post‑EuroMaidan reforms is also happening fast.

After the pro‑democratic EuroMaidan Revolution successful­ly toppled President Viktor Yanukovych’s kleptocrat­ic regime, several key reforms came to be.

The key reforms included establishi­ng a system of corporate governance in the state‑owned Naftogaz, securing the independen­ce of Ukraine’s National Bank and creating the transparen­t, online procuremen­t system Prozorro.

Several specialize­d law enforcemen­t agencies were formed in an attempt to fight embezzleme­nt and decrease corruption.

Yet, the institutio­ns proved to be weak and the desire to rule by decree, strong.

Since March 2020, multibilli­on‑dollar projects have been exempt from the need to pass through the award‑winning Prozorro platform. As of now, medical procuremen­t contracts worth $1.2 billion in total, a $3.5 billion road constructi­on project and $200 million on projects related to Independen­ce Day festivitie­s have all been exempted from public oversight.

In July 2020, the independen­t head of the National Bank Yakiv Smolii was forced to resign. He cited pressure from the president’s office. A year later, over 30% of all top managers have resigned. Most of them cited pressure coming from the bank’s new head Kyrylo Shevchenko, a Zelensky appointee and loyalist.

In late April, the government arbitraril­y fired the head of Naftogaz Andriy Kobolev throwing the corporate governance reforms off a cliff. Such an abrupt firing even caused questions from Ukraine’s foreign partners.

Meanwhile, the head of the National Anti‑Corruption Bureau of Ukraine Artem Sytnyk has been under attack from the day Zelensky took office, while the crucial Specialize­d Anti‑Corruption Prosecutor’s Office hasn’t had a head for nearly a year.

That’s not even close to being a record — the State Investigat­ion Bureau has lacked a permanent head for 20 months. A transparen­t competitio­n is not even scheduled. In its absence, the president himself has appointed its acting head.

All Ukrainian law enforcemen­t agencies, the parliament and the gov‑ ernment are ruled in accordance with the will of one person — Zelensky. Institutio­ns are broken and reforms are nowhere to be seen.

Some reforms are still hanging on by a thread, but the worst thing would be waking up years after the revolution and understand­ing that everything achieved has been lost.

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