politics

... As we forgive those who trespass

21.11.2014 | By Anna Vasylyk

MUCH ADO AND NOTHING
It has been more than 8 months since the drastic change of the countrys political landscape, but authorities virtually have nothing to take credit for in actual fight against corruption. The number of open criminal proceedings has not turned into quality of trials. And, as before, the media reaction to anti-corruption investigations exceeds their legal efficiency by far. We tried to understand why the central figures of the corruption scandals of the past successfully proceed with their political careers and provocation of bribery is still the most common method of anti-corruption struggle in the law enforcement agencies

Over a rather short period of time, the Ukrainian law enforcement bodies initiated two highprofile anticorruption investigations. Specifically these are an opened investigation into the transactions of the Ministry of Energy on the purchase of coal from South Africa and arrest of the Chief of the Main Department of Ukrzaliznytsya on the suspicion of extortion.

As for the investigation into the operations of the Ministry of Energy, the key versions of its reasons should not be sought in the anticorruption plane; the probability of political and/or business interests is higher. On the one hand there is an assumption that this step is directed not against the ministry headed by Yuriy Prodan, but to weaken the positions of the prime minister in the course of difficult talks on the formation of the parliamentary coalition, particularly since, according to rumors, the leadership of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc is interested in this ministerial portfolio (former governor of Vinnytsya oblast, who is close to the president was named as a possible candidate). On the other hand, the assumption that the scandal was planned for the sake of staff reshuffling of the deputy ministers that oversee the huge budget flows could be justified. It is also possible that Prodan himself and the leadership of the Cabinet of Ministers will be able to benefit from the situation by presenting their actions as an attempt to diversify the energy supplies that stumbled against the intrigues of the enemies of the independence. This case rather proves the rule, when there is a farreaching political intrigue behind each such incident.

In connection with this Kyiv Weekly decided to recollect the most highprofile corruption scandals of the past decade and came to an unexpected conclusion that, with a rare exception, political careers of those involved did not suffer much.

THE UNLUCKY ONES

The circle of people, for whom a highprofile corruption case put an end to their political career, is not so big. Interestingly, they were caught on one and the same crime bribery. This is about former Chair of Lviv Administrative Court Ihor Zvarych and former Head of State Financial Services Department Vasyl Volha; also former head of the State Employment Service Volodymyr Halytskiy (passed away before the verdict was delivered) and former president of the National Tax Service University Petro Melnyk (released on bail) were accused of taking a bribe.

However corruption offences are not limited to obtaining improper benefits. They also include abuse of power (office) and influence, forgery, embezzlement, misuse of funds, etc. It is much more difficult to prove them due to the specific administrative culture of bureaucracy that envisages many loopholes for avoiding responsibility. The most highprofile processes, where power abuse of officials was proven include Yulia Tymoshenko case (when signing gas contracts in 2009) and Yuriy Lutsenko case (illegal allocation of an apartment and pension to the driver, misappropriation of funds for the celebration of Police Day). These, however, were politically motivated.

It is just as indicative that the release of Lutsenko and Tymoshenko was also politically and not strictly legally motivated. Pardon of the former head of the Interior Ministry was a curtsey for the EU. Tymoshenko was released by a very exotic way: first a personalized resolution of the VR was adopted on her release and then the law on decriminalization of the articles of the Criminal Code, which she was convicted by, was signed and only several months later the criminal cases against the former premier were closed by the decision of the higher court instance.

SCANDAL IS NO OBSTACLE TO CAREER

The fate, law enforcement bodies, Themis and the voters were more benevolent to the other persons involved in the corruption scandals (even if they were primarily created for the mass media).

In autumn 2005 many would have thought that the road to big politics was closed for Petro Poroshenko after he was scandalously dismissed as the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council. However, none of the accusations were confirmed and after pausing for some time Poroshenko then worked as the Chair of the NBU Council, twice as a minister and parliament member and in the end won the presidential elections.

Those involved in the largest corruption scandal of the zeroes representatives of the young team of Chernovetskiy got off cheaply despite the statements of the Prosecutor Generals Office about the exorbitant scale of violations in the land allocation sphere (thousands of hectares and tens of billions of budget losses). Former mayor and several people from his closest entourage, including former soninlaw Vyacheslav Suprunenko (still on the wanted list) flew abroad. Denys Komarnytskiy received suspended sentence and Oleksiy Yevlakh was amnestied. Denys Bass and Irena Kilchytska were not brought to the account. Oles Dovhiy and Oleksandr Suprunenko got elected to the parliament, Serhiy Berezenko, former adviser to Chernovetskiy, was appointed the Head of State Department of Affairs, Ihor Nikonov, a capitals developer who was considered Chernovetskiys business partner, heads the group of advisers of the current Kyiv mayor.

Criminal case of 2007 against former transport minister Mykola Rudkovskiy, who was accused of misuse of government funds for private flights, was closed in 2010 and Rudkovskiy was elected to the parliament in 2012.

The recent parliamentary elections opened the road to the parliament for former minister of fuel and energy Yuriy Boyko and former head of Naftogaz Yevhen Bakulin despite that the case of Boyko towers (embezzlement of hundreds millions dollars) was one of the corruption symbols of Viktor Yanukovych times. More over the case files was lost already during the new government and was again opened and factually classified with Vitaliy Yarema as the interior minister.

It can be seen that the Ukrainian. It is difficult to imagine that public figures with such a story of scandals as Dovhiy or Boyko have would have a chance to stay in politics in the developed democracies. Ukrainian voters, however, have a shortterm political operational memory, are inclined to emotional choice, receive information mainly from TV (it is very easy to switch the attention of TV viewers) and are convinced that all politicians are the same. Ukrainian voters are also susceptible to corruption in the form of preelection presents. Moreover, the election system (closed lists plus firstpastthepost candidates) leaves the officials involved in the corruption scandals many chances to continue their political career.

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