Over the past three years my country has been through a lot: the overthrow of authoritarian President Viktor Yanukovych, the occupation of its territory, and tens of thousands of dead and wounded. In all of this played its role corruption. It has weakened the army and made the country easy prey for Russia. Corruption has destroyed the national currency and deprived millions of people of their social protection and jobs. It makes us every day to fight for a fair policy in Ukraine.
Two and a half years ago, I was after 14 years of work as a journalist involved in various investigations, with the Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada — the Ukrainian Parliament. I wrote at that time about the policy and was ready to face reality. But then I was shocked by the cynicism, the witness which I have become. The Parliament of Ukraine is the largest business club of Europe, in which the purchase of the Deputy mandate obliges to ensure that from time to time to press the button to vote. However, the biggest bonus get secret from the public, namely as a result of the possibility to reallocate for the purposes of self-enrichment with public money.
Vertical take-off in Ukrainian as follows: you invest several millions of dollars in dirty pre-election struggle, and through several legislature periods, it is possible to become a multi-millionaire with a private plane and the corresponding yacht, as it failed to Vitaliy Khomutynnik, one of the corrupt politicians. For financial success do not need to be a leader in any industry or to innovate. Enough through bribery to agree on how to use the funds from the Ukrainian budget. On income earned while our politicians can only dream of the most successful stars of Silicon valley.
Government orders for agreement
In the corridors of our Parliament corruption is really in the air, and even after two and a half years after taking the oath I could hardly get used to it. Sometimes I hear the deputies sitting behind me in the plenary hall to discuss business issues. Although it is prohibited by the Constitution, the current Parliament has become the norm to mix business and politics. This is particularly clearly manifested when we vote for the budget. The parliamentary session continued until five o’clock in the morning because have to be met to corrupt the interests of all political centers of influence. The government is able to get votes even from those parties that call themselves opposition. One of them, led by unbridled populist Oleg Lyashko, reliably vote for the budget. For this firm of one member of the party receives a state order in the amount of 20 million euros on production of fire trucks.
Another example: last year our Parliament passed a revolutionary law on state financing of parties, similar to that which operates in Germany since 1960-ies. This law, which I participated, is part of a promotional catalogue of the European Union in order to provide Ukrainians visa-free regime. The basic idea of this law is this: state funds in exchange for transparency of party financing. On the draft of this law, I clearly felt the resistance of the old political corruption. Under their pressure, this law eventually was changed. Until now, the parliamentary parties receive funds from the budget, which does not meet the transparency requirements.
Poroshenko became President of the old type
As a result, politics, eighteen months after the adoption of this law represents the muddy water in which young crocodiles surrounded by corrupt forces trying to survive. In this fight, the biggest problem is that the President Poroshenko took the side of the old politicians who use their power to line their own pockets. Because the President is sabotaging the reforms, they are moving very slowly.
However, these reforms in the long term, are irreversible, as the decision of Ukrainians in favour of European values, which they adopted in 2014 during the revolution of dignity on Maidan.
At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that the current President Poroshenko wants to be elected again in 2019. This not only slows down the reforms, but reduces his willingness to take unpopular measures. Moreover, Poroshenko willingly would cancel the gains achieved so far in the fight against corruption.
The growing power of the secret service
His election campaign Poroshenko builds on those proven methods that I have observed, as a journalist, in the late 90-ies of the authoritarian President Kuchma. This recipe involves the consolidation of the police and justice authorities, block critical statements on television, the active use of funds from grey sources and slandering the competitors.
The role of the Ukrainian secret service SBU in society has increased significantly since the beginning of the aggression of Pro-Russian armed groups in Eastern Ukraine. At present, the SBU is under the control of President Poroshenko. The secret service not only monitors the activities of civil society activists, independent journalists and opposition politicians, but also involved in the misalignment. conflicts between different firms.
In the hands of the President Poroshenko is also the Prosecutor General’s office under the leadership of Yuri Lutsenko. He is the godfather to Poroshenko, the former head of fraction of party President BPP “Solidarity”. A year later, after he became the head of the Prosecutor General, there is no reform. The public Prosecutor’s office remains the party: part of the staff to bypass the General Prosecutor surrounded by friends of the President.
How do I know all this? Young politicians and journalists involved in the investigation, regularly expose the hidden influence of the President on public prosecutors. That is why over the past three years were forced to retire three of the attorney General.
However, the President depends on public opinion
Another Department, which could fall into the hands of the President ahead of the presidential elections, it created the state Bureau of investigation Ukraine. If we consider both applicants for a post of the head, it is evident that they are both completely loyal to Poroshenko. Other new departments created under the influence of the presidential administration, for example, the Agency for prevention of corruption and the national anticorruption Prosecutor’s office.
The only truly independent Agency is the National anti-corruption Bureau (NAB), which recently caused a major scandal, arresting Roman Nasirov, head of the tax Department, which is close to the President. For the President it is clear that sooner or later the investigation of corruption will affect his companions, so he takes sophisticated fighting to discredit NABOO. Last month we spent in the Parliament to thwart the plans of the presidential administration to appoint the party’s economic expert for NABOO, which would lead to the dismissal of the head of NABOO. We were able to prevent this scenario only by the unprecedented, sincere cooperation politicians who are fighting against corruption, civil society activists and Western diplomats.
Changes are taking place in the media, many TV channels, strengthen the course to support the President. Loyalty channels, which belong to the oligarchs, is provided as a result of the activities of the joint hidden corruption networks. One example of energy: there Poroshenko has set the stage through its subordinate state regulatory agencies in order to founder of the Donetsk clan, the coal tycoon Rinat Akhmetov has received excess profits. Supported Akhmetov’s media react accordingly.
Conversely, the media that belong to the associates of the fleeing of Yanukovych, the current government is different caught on a hook: they’re blackmailing, threatening closure or large fines.
However extensive censorship in Ukraine is no longer possible. Independent social network and TV on the Internet has become for a large part of the population the most important source of information.
Misinformation in Russian
Due to the control over the security services and the media, Poroshenko has achieved a significant advantage over other competitors. Against all activists, journalists and government officials who are investigating the dirty deeds of the regime carried out a campaign to discredit them with the information that is collected by the secret service. This goal should also serve the Ukrainian Troll factory in St. Petersburg pattern, which became a center for the production of a fictitious user of the Internet and disinformation to information attacks on opponents of the regime. Almost unknown on the Internet is regularly posted false information about themselves fighters against corruption allegedly living large. This step publishes the mounted images of an alleged compromise meetings. Ultimately, these fake messages reach support applications purchased “expert” or Pro-government politicians of wide layers of the population.
Another example: for civil society activists, who are fighting against corruption, were imposed the obligation to declare electronically the income and assets. With this change in the law, which was charged with Putin’s law on foreign agents, should be taken in independent voices. However, I think in practice it will reverse, because the ideologists of the law will alienate part of society.
Public opinion still means something
With all this current President dependent on public opinion. The drop in his rating in the polls is forcing him to consider the voices of protest and voices in social networks. He had to make concessions lately and undo unpopular decisions.
Poroshenko is now trying to prevent the laws of history. It is a fundamental mistake. The fight against corruption is an international phenomenon, from Romania to South Korea, from Brazil to Indonesia. After the revolution of dignity it has reached and Ukraine.
The President has a choice: he can still stand at the head of this movement. An alternative would be to start in Ukraine a witch hunt on the Russian model, attack activists and anti-corruption Agency. Instead, we need important reforms, in particular, the new law on elections and the creation of an anti-corruption court. These steps should be a condition for providing Ukraine with further financial assistance of the Europeans.