President Petro Poroshenko and other top officials have desperately tried to delay and emasculate electronic property and asset declarations for officials since the law on them was adopted in October 2014.
The latest sabotage attempt came earlier this month, when a state agency controlled by Poroshenko and Oleksandr Tuchynov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, refused to certify the declaration system. Another state agency, also controlled by Poroshenko and Turchynov, launched the uncertified system, making sure that officials stay unpunished.
The Yevropeiska Pravda newspaper on Aug. 15 published an editorial urging the West not to cancel visas and not to disburse aid until the authorities properly launch the declarations. A troll army soon embarked on a witch hunt against the newspaper. We stand with Yevropeiska Pravda, which has proven to be right. On Aug. 17, Poroshenko bowed to Western pressure and ordered his subordinates to certify and properly launch the declaration system by Sept. 1.
Yet there is no guarantee that Poroshenko and Turchynov will not derail the launch again. They are afraid that the declarations will expose their corrupt cronies.
Poroshenko and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov have also deceived the West by blocking prosecutorial and police reform.
Poroshenko’s loyal Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has proved to be a disaster and is perpetuating corrupt schemes. He failed to fire controversial protégés of the president’s grey cardinals, Ihor Kononenko and Oleksandr Hranovsky, even after evidence emerged that the protégés tortured employees of the anti-graft bureau.
Kononenko and Hranovsky are boosting their clout and taking over the court system under the guise of judicial reform.
The president has also failed to fire State Fiscal Service head Roman Nasirov, whom critics — including subordinates — see as a symbol of Ukrainian corruption.
The West should not believe in Poroshenko’s empty promises. Rather than punish multibillion-dollar corruption and those responsible, the Poroshenko administration is still trying to fool the West into thinking he’s a reformer. Rather than dismantle crony capitalism, he is reinforcing it by ensuring that no strong law enforcement agencies emerge to compete with existing corrupt ones.
The West, fortunately, looks to have caught on. The International Monetary Fund rightly refuses to keep lending to undeserved recipients.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: It’s Poroshenko’s refusal to tackle corruption that is weakening the state, not the attempts by journalists, civil society activists and others to expose this corruption.