Smart Analysis from a friend of mine:
—“This is a weird line to take in an article, and I’ve seen it in Guardian and RT (‘journalism’) as well. (1) I don’t know any Ukrainians who are surprised that the Oligarchs or their political allies are rich. Literally nobody (2) in the one and a half years I’ve been talking with people here, everyone mentions how people drive Land Rovers in Kyiv while the soldiers fight, this is not news, nor is it any different from any country of which I’m aware including the US, and (3) what’s actually surprising, almost unprecedented, and very good news deserving applause, is that oligarchs and politicians believe that Ukraine’s interests (establishing political ties to Europe) are more important than how the public perceives individuals. Anyway–well done, Ukrainian politicians and lawmakers, huge step forward in the struggle for meaningful transparency. Fellow journalists: you’re doing it wrong”—
Ukrainians shocked as politicians declare vast wealth
An anti-corruption reform requiring senior Ukrainian officials to declare their wealth online has exposed a vast difference between the fortunes of politicians and those they represent.
Some declared millions of dollars in cash. Others said they owned fleets of luxury cars, expensive Swiss watches, diamond jewelry and large tracts of land – revelations that could further hit public confidence in the authorities in Ukraine, where the average salary is just over $200 per month.
Officials had until Sunday to upload details of their assets and income in 2015 to a publicly searchable database, part of an International Monetary Fund-backed drive to boost transparency and modernize Ukraine’s recession-hit economy.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, who last week likened the declarations process to jumping out of an airplane, revealed that he and his wife had a total of $1.2 million and 460,000 euros in cash and a collection of luxury watches.
The database also shows that Groysman, a former businessman and provincial mayor, is not alone in preferring to keep much of his money out of Ukraine’s banking system.
Reuters calculations based on the declarations show that the 24 members of the Ukrainian cabinet together have nearly $7 million, just in cash.
The declarations of two brothers in President Petro Poroshenko’s faction, Bohdan and Yaroslav Dubnevych, show holdings of over $26 million, also in cash only.
“When the Economy Ministry says that in some areas around 60 percent of the economy is in the shadows, then this is accounted for by the volume of cash registered by civil servants, officials and lawmakers,” said Taras Kachka, deputy executive director at George Soros’s International Renaissance Foundation.
“This is a reflection on the state of our society.”
Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko, who declared $1 million in a bank account and a further $500,000 in cash, said officials’ decision to hold cash pointed to a mistrust in the banks that many Ukrainians could relate to.