Corruption in Ukraine
Written by Marren Haneberg
Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko named former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili governor of Odessa in May 2015. In addition to governorship, Poroshenko bestowed honorary Ukrainian citizenship on Saakashvili, who lost his Georgian citizenship after being driven out of the country in a political conflict (“Ukraine names ex-Georgian…”). Saakashvili, who was offered the post due to his success lowering corruption in Georgia during his 2004 to 2013 presidency, resigned just a year later, in 2016. He cited Poroshenko’s corruption, saying that Poroshenko protected corrupt Ukrainians. In July 2017, Poroshenko stripped Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship and arrested him. Saakashvili responded by barging through Ukraine’s Polish border with a crowd of supporters in September 2017. Police chased him onto a rooftop in December 2017. In February 2018, police arrested Saakashvili in a restaurant and deported him to Poland, a move which he called a kidnapping (“What’s behind Mikheil…”).
Ukrainian authorities arrested Nadiya Savochenko in March 2018. Savochenko is a female warship pilot who held hunger strikes while under previous Russian arrest. She came home a war hero after Ukrainian authorities negotiated her release in a prisoner swap, but videos surfaced of her plotting armed coups against the Ukrainian government, which she called corrupt, and these videos led to her arrest (Maza).
While her means of rooting out corruption are problematic for Ukraine’s stability, Savochenko’s accusations of Ukrainian government corruption are validated by Transparency International’s 2017 report on corruption in Ukraine. The country only improved by one point between 2016 and 2017, whereas it improved by two points between 2015 and 2016 (“CPI-17: Ukraine”). A 2018 corruption case provides a compelling example of the country’s corruption problem. Serhiy Semochko was a high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence official. A government investigation found that he lives a luxurious lifestyle with multiple homes and a private helicopter. The case opened October 3, 2018 (“Ukraine Opens Anticorruption…”).
In March 2018, the United States confirmed a $47 million military-aid package for Ukraine. In April 2018, the United States delivered javelin antitank missile systems to Ukraine (Miller). On May 25, Ukraine’s Border Service held a Russian Nord fishing vessel in the Azov Sea, detaining all but two crewmembers. Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, which convened September 6, 2018, agreed on measures to increase Ukrainian warships and improve their weaponry (“Ukraine to deploy…”). In October 2018, Viktor Muzhenko, Ukrainian Chief of the General Staff said Ukraine plans a military base on the Azov Sea to protect key ports Mariupol and Berdiansk (Wilson, BI Ukraine needs).
“CPI-17: Ukraine.” 2018. Transparency International. https://ti-ukraine.org/en/research/cpi-2017/.
Maza, Cristina. 2018. “A UKRAINE COUP? WAR HERO POLITICIAN NADIYA SAVCHENKO ARRESTED FOR PLOTTING TO OVERTHROW GOVERNMENT USING GRENADES AND AUTOMATIC WEAPONS.” Newsweek. March 22.https://www. newsweek.com/ukraine-coup-war-hero-politician-nadiya-savchenko-arrested-plotting-overthrow-857675.
Miller, Christopher. 2018. “U.S. Confirms Delivery Of Javelin Antitank Missiles To Ukraine.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. April 30. https://www.rferl.org/a/javelin-missile-delivery-ukraine-us-confirmed/29200588.html.
“Ukraine names ex-Georgian president Saakashvili as Odessa governor.” 2015. The Guardian. May 31. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/31/ukraine-saakashvili-odessa-governor.
“Ukraine needs Azov Sea base to counter new Russian threat: military chief.” 2018. Business Insider. October https://www.businessinsider.com/r-ukraine-needs-azov-sea-base-to-counter-new-russian-threat-military-chief-2018-10?r=UK&IR=T.
“Ukraine Opens Anticorruption Probe Of Intelligence Official With Million-Dollar Homes.” 2018. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. October 4. https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-opens-anticorruption-probe-intelligence-official-million-dollar-homes-kyiv-semochko/29524593.html.
“Ukraine to deploy more border guards, rescuers in Azov Sea — minister.” 2018. TASS. September 30. http://tass.com/world/1023671.
“What’s behind Mikheil Saakashvili’s Ukraine ordeal?” 2018. Al Jazeera. 13 February. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/mikheil-saakashvili-ukraine-ordeal-180213084426370.html.
Wilson, Andrew. “Strait to war? Russia and Ukraine clash in the Sea of Azov.” 2018. European Council on Foreign Relations. October 2. https://www.ecfr.eu/article /commentary_strait_to_war_russia_and_ukraine_clash_in_the_sea_of_azov.