Ukraine is failing to reform

It cannot go unnoticed that one by one, Ukraine’s finest reformers are being pushed to resign from the cabinet. These include Oleksiy Pavlenko, Minister of Agriculture; Andrei Pivovarsky, Minister of Infrastructure; and Alexander Kvitashvili, Minister of Health. All have resigned but have since retracted under pressure. Rumor even has it that Serhiy Kvit, Minister of Education, is under threat.

These ministers, together with Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, came into the government with the goal of achieving breakthrough reforms under the impetus provided by the Euromaidan against the kleptocracy of former President Viktor Yanukovych’s regime. However, they quickly found themselves surrounded by the people of the past: the bureaucrats, the politicians, and the oligarchs who have for too long formed a triangle of corruption. For these groups, reform is undesirable. This repeats situations in Ukraine’s history when, for example, a reformer like Viktor Pynzenyk was repeatedly pushed out of government. . . .

As an example, the Rada Anticorruption Committee’s head, reformist Tetiana Chornovil, resigned in frustration soon after her appointment. The parliamentary coalition agreement developed on the basis of the reform plan Strategy 2020 was then quickly emasculated by a variety of special interests represented in the Rada.

And once again, the use of obfuscation in place of meaningful action is apparent. The allegations of corruption which have been surfacing throughout the year involving key political figures such as Mykola Martynenko, Ihor Kononenko, Borys Lyozkhin, and Arsen Avakov have not been pursued by Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin. . . .

The façade of reform continues with the constant refrain that progress is gradually being made and patience is needed. But the well-established axiom guiding successful reforms undertaken in countries such as Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia is that reforms need to be swift and comprehensive if they are to be effective. The patience of Western ambassadors and the managing director of the IMF has worn out, as indicated by their public statements.

Leave a Reply