Ukraine's Graft Fight Shows Little Progress, Transparency Says

  • Corruption perceptions score gains `only 1 additional point'
  • Civil society, journalists more effective than officials

Ukraine’s efforts to stamp out corruption last year brought scant progress, according to Transparency International, which said civil society, journalists and whistle-blowers have been more effective than government officials in combating graft.

The former Soviet republic’s score rose "only one additional point" in the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, the Berlin-based organization said Wednesday in a statement on its website. That left it 130th of 168 countries, level with Iran and Cameroon, it said. Ukraine ranked 142nd of 175 the previous year.

"The delay with real punishment of corrupt officials, and establishing corrupt relations between business and the government, do not allow Ukraine to take a decisive step forward," Transparency said. It noted "slight progress" stemming from the creation of anti-corruption bodies.

Corruption is a key issue for Ukraine’s pro-European government as it seeks to ensure the continued flow of international aid and speed recovery from a recession brought on by the war in its easternmost regions. President Petro Poroshenko, whose administration has faced criticism for a lack of progress in tackling graft, acknowledged this month that mid-level corruption remains at the same level as it was under his Russian-backed predecessor, who was toppled by anti-government protests in 2014.

Foreign Concern

Nine European governments including Germany, the U.K. and Poland pressed Ukraine to step up the fight against corruption, Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen said Jan. 15 in an interview. Ally nations have made the disbursement of financial assistance contingent on advances in taming graft.

“There were loud announcements but no senior official has been punished and business is still calling for equal and transparent rules,” Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta research institute in Kiev, said by phone. “We should see many attempts to fight high-level corruption this year as state anti-corruption bodies have begun operations and must show some positive results.”

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