With all the focus on the Middle East turmoil, Ukraine’s importance to the West should not be overlooked. WhenUkraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 by public protests sparked by his refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union, he fled the country. Then details of his lavish lifestyle were exposed to public view, and the full extent of his corruption became clear. Together with his corrupt cronies, Mr. Yanukovych, who now remains a guest of Vladimir Putin, is believed to have stolen upwards of $100 billion. Unbelievable.
When a pro-Western government headed by current President Petro Poroshenko took over, Ukrainians hoped for genuine reforms that would take their country out of Moscow’s sphere of influence and end the blatant corruption that characterized his predecessor’s tenure. That’s certainly was the mood when I was in Kiev. Regrettably, more than two years after Mr. Poroshenko’s election, real reform remains elusive.
As Reuters commentator Josh Cohen has put it, in today’s Ukraine corruption is so bad, a Nigerian prince would be embarrassed.
As documented by Mr. Cohen, “over $12 billion per year disappears from the Ukrainian budget, according to an adviser to Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). In its most recent review of global graft, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International ranked Ukraine 142 out of 174 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index — below countries such as Uganda, Nicaragua and Nigeria.”
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