Just how deep does Ukrainian corruption go?
Volodymyr Zelenskyy sees it as a threat to his government
This week Ukrainian agencies announced the arrest of the country’s Supreme Court Justice, Vsevolod Kniaziev — adding to a legacy of troubled relations between the Government and the country’s judiciary. Kniaziev is accused of accepting a bribe of nearly £1.6 million from oligarch Kostyantyn Zhevago in exchange for favourable rulings, even as the Government simultaneously seeks to take over Zhevago’s metals company Ferrexpo in relation to claims he embezzled money from a bankrupt bank he once controlled. This is the second time in as many years that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government has fallen out with the head of its two highest courts.
Amid Russia’s continued attacks, Kyiv has been attempting to overhaul its courts — long seen as some of the most corrupt in the Western world. Kniaziev’s arrest is just the latest example of this effort, which has repeatedly stumbled. And while Zelenskyy’s government has said that Vladimir Putin’s war will only spur on its efforts to tackle corruption, the case nevertheless raises uncomfortable questions about just how deep the rot is.
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That such corruption has long plagued Ukraine is not controversial — Western government reports have long acknowledged the reality. A 2017 report from the US’ Helsinki Commission noted that oligarchs “captured the Ukrainian state”. Even on the eve of Russia’s full-scale invasion, EU publications noted Ukraine still relied on “unreformed judicial, prosecution, and law-enforcement sectors despite seven years of support” — explaining in wishy-washy Brussels-ese language that reforms “could have relied more on conditions to support reforms in the judiciary” from Kyiv. And while agencies such as NABU and SAPO were held up by Western support, they too have been beset by infighting and have often been seen as failing to make effective progress.
Prominent detractors of Western support for Ukraine such as Tucker Carlson have focused on Ukraine’s troubled record in combatting corruption to justify their calls for abandoning Kyiv to devastation at Putin’s hands. There is no denying that the reform effort in relation to Ukraine’s courts has proved a particularly grave challenge. Judge Oleksandr Tupytskyi was sanctioned by the United States in December 2021, but formally held on to his post until the expiry of his term in May last year. Kniaziev, on the other hand, was appointed to head the Supreme Court in 2017 thanks to an earlier attempt to reform the courts by then-president Petro Poroshenko. He became its head under Zelenskyy’s government in 2021.
The question of whether support for Ukraine’s resistance risks being negatively affected by such corruption therefore remains a live one. But there is ample reason to believe that the current administration does see corruption as a threat to the Ukrainian state — with the agenda taking on a newfound vigour over the last year. A number of oligarchs have been stripped of their assets over alleged support for Moscow and charged with various forms of corruption. This includes the former owner of defence and aerospace company Motor Sich Vyacheslav Bohuslayev, metals magnate Vadim Novinsky and gas billionaire Dmytro Firtash. Zelenskyy has also gone after his supposed erstwhile ally Ihor Kolomoisky, on whose television networks the President rose to fame, though Kolomoisky was one of the first oligarchs to fund resistance efforts after Russia’s initial invasion in 2014.
It would be mistaken to argue that Kyiv is responsible for this national legacy of corruption, or its future impact. The reality is that in almost every one of the aforementioned cases the oligarchs have relied on Western bolt-holes, legal support and tax havens to escape being held to account. Ex-constitutional court chief Tupytskyi fled to Austria last year. Firtash has been hiding out there to resist US and now Ukrainian extradition efforts since 2014. Zhevago this March secured a French court order denying his extradition. His Swiss-headquartered firm remains on the London Stock Exchange. Novinsky is at liberty in Switzerland, where he has openly criticised Zelenskyy’s agenda. Last March Kolomoisky secured a delay from an English court against Kyiv’s efforts to claw back assets he allegedly embezzled.
For Ukraine to be successful in its hopes to root out corruption, it will need Europe to take unprecedented measures to overhaul its own way of doing business — just as it has taken unprecedented steps to support Ukraine on the battlefield.
All I know is that if Biden has spent over $100 billion on “aid” for Ukraine, and Hunter was being paid to sit on the board of Burisma, there is no possible chance that corruption exists there.
Gasp, you mean people with well-known names sit on the boards of Directors for large companies?!?
Shouldn’t someone look into this?
Seriously, another member of the board was also a former Polish president.
Since nearly all boards have well-connected people, are you saying we should only allow Joe Lunchpail on?
Wouldn’t mind it, but don’t think you or Tucker Carlson would.
It IS being looked into.
Watch this space.
Of course, Hunter Biden had no qualifications to work for Burisma.
He was there to sell the influence of his VP father.
The Biden crime gang.
It’s all coming out in the wash.
So being president of Poland means he actually was in the “awl bidness?”
Shouldn’t you know something about most boards of directors before you post?
So what you are saying..
Remind me who was that ?
Tucker Carlson was a host on FOX who got a little too pro-Russian and anti-Zelensky.
This can’t be right. Only a few days ago Ursula Von der Leyen described Kyiv as the “beating heart of European values”.
If consistently beating a criminal army reflects “European values,” she is, of course, correct.
WW2 and the Fall of the Soviet Union were also consistent with the values of most democratic nations.
The criminal army ?
The criminal NAZI army who have threatened to do away with Zelenskyy ?
The Russian Army certainly is the most corrupt on the planet.
And saw their Nazi character in Mariupol and Bucha.
And how about that strike on the former?
Looks like it won’t be long now…
When one of the vice presidents of the EU got caught red handed with 1.6 million euros in a suitcase as a bribe from an Arab state I can see they are singing from the same hymn sheet. Should fit in quite well actually….
Vsevolod Kniaziev has managed to be arrested for corruption even in Ukraine, which is the most corrupt country in Europe, and which is the country with more politicians than any other named in the Panama Papers. Those of us who have been right about every war, why would we be wrong this time? We are not.
Election year scrutiny of the Bidens is coming, and Westerners in general, who are in some cases literally starving, are tiring of the costs of sanctioning Russia and of arming Ukraine. Nowhere is that truer than in Britain, where we even knew better than to allow Volodymyr Zelensky onto the Eurovision Song Contest. We mostly associate him with Boris Johnson, who has just paid £3.8 million in cash for a house while we picked up his legal fees of, so far, £245,000. We still do not know why he needed a “credit facility” of £800,000, and while we do know who arranged it, we do not know with whom.
Zelensky presides over the poorest country in Europe despite its huge population, stunning natural resources, and rich industrial history. Doing so has made him a dollar billionaire four years, and in fact less time than that, after he was a stand-up comedian. He and Johnson are birds of a feather.
RUSSIA is the most corrupt country in Europe. Moreover, the main reason that Ukraine is corrupt is because Russian oligarchs have much more money that Ukrainian oligarchs. They have been corrupting Ukraine since 1991.
Might also point out the money laundering for Russians in Britain has always been more than a little concerning.
As far as corruption goes, the best guarantee of Ukraine remaining a corrupt society is to allow Putin’s regime to come out of this war with less than a full defeat.
A less corrupt Ukraine is the only real way to cure Russia of its inherent corruption.
It’s been around since the Mongol Yoke. If it were just Russians involved, it would be tolerable. We see many corrupt societies that don’t go around trying to conquer their neighbours.
But when the idiots keep thinking they are an “empire,” they are a danger to themselves and everyone else.
You are a fantasist.
Ukraine cannot win this.
If you support this war, you support more death and destruction.
Zelenskyy must negotiate.
Ukraine has already won this war.
Anyone still in Russia is a fool–and likely to wind up a dead fool when Vagner and the collapsing army try to take over.
The corruption issue is beside the point. Any country that suffers an illegal invasion, the destruction of its cities and infrastructure and the murder of its people, deserves support however corrupt its elites are.
Ukraine is corrupt. So is most of S Italy. Should NATO invite Russia in to Italy? Pip pip
What has Italy got to do with this ?
They both hold real elections, unlike clueless, criminal Russians.
A well-sourced, fact-based riposte if there ever was one.
It is, it is.
How about you actually bother to find out what has really been going on in Ukraine since the CIA deposed Ukraine’s democratically elected president ?
The situation is rather more nuanced that you realise.
I might add the same to you…
“the CIA deposed Ukraine’s democratically elected president”
This is a gross simplification of Maidan Uprising. Ukrainians who protested Yanukovych’s decision to re-align with Moscow and were met by sniper fire were not mindless puppets of Langley.
Did the West sense an opportunity to extend its sphere of influence? Sure. Did they abet those protests? Perhaps (someone more informed can probably fill in the details here).
It is a fact and it is NOT an over simplication.
I am NOT going list all the reasons, that has already been done in a number of books.
Well then I appeal to other readers to avoid simple binaries.
So would I.
I am NOt going to write a whole essay, you understand ?
So would I.
You war-mongers don’t do that.
It’s just Putin bad, Zelenskyy hero.
You are a sad bunch of losers.
How is your stance any different from a Russian troll.
Try to at least to know what’s going on in Ukraine, instead of claiming sheer fantasies.
I would only add:
–YANUKOVICH was the one who wanted to join the EU (not NATO). It was his reneging on the deal that caused Maidan.
–And it was Yanukovich’s fear of arrest and trial after he killed the demonstrators that made him flee, not any nonexistent “NATO coup.” People who commit crimes quite often flee the scene.
–Oh, and BTW, the Rada duly and legally elected the next president in Yanuk’s absence.
You, of course can’t say any of this, because the facts don’t fit yours, or Russia’s narrative.
Isn’t it it funny how inconvenient the truth is sometimes?
Why, the Truth may well be…RUSSOPHOBIC!
Cherry picking yet again.
Thanks for not being able to refute anything I said.
It is appreciated!
But it is a pity our support seems to depend on claptrap about Ukraine being a free and liberal democracy, whose alleged corruptiin is the fault of Russia; the unusually large number of ex Presidents imprisoned or fled is glossed over.
Well said, a lot is glossed over.
Like Russia’s invasion in 2014.
Hardly but you know very well Russia was deliberately provoked.
By Yanukovich when he tried to join the EU?
You don’t know anything about this, do you?
No provocation short of being actually invaded, justifies unleashing the horrors of war.
It is an illegal invasion if any sovereign country is invaded by another, destroying its cities, infrastructure and the murder of its people..
The part the USA has played in invading Middle Eastern countries this century – without taking any account of their complex internal religions and historical differences – has set the precedent for such invasions.
Interesting. Please enlighten us all about which middle eastern countries the USA has taken over?
And if world history began in the 2000’s, then your last comment could be correct.
How much time do you have ?
I was responding to the invading of sovereign countries by stronger nations and I believe that the USA set a precedent in invading Iraq and Syria, causing all-out civil war in these countries. I would also go as far as to say that encouraging Ukraine not to accept neutrality has caused the death and destruction occurring in that country today..
Middle Eastern history is complex, borders being reset after both WW1 and WW2 and the antagonism between Shia and Sunni has always created a volatile situation in that part of the world…
American schools have never taught Middle Eastern history as happened in UK schools in the past. Unfortunately it is not taught in UK schools nowadays.
I completely agree that the unjustifiable actions of many Western states (The US most guilty), the actions of Israel against Palestinians, of everyone against the Kurds, does not make Russian actions justifiable.
Off you go to the front then Judy. Sell your house, car etc and give the money to Ukrainian gangster state.
As opposed to you, who support Russia in your nice, comfy home.
“the current administration does see corruption as a threat to the Ukrainian state”
No it sees that it is its turn to get its snout in the trough
In the last war we airbrushed the USSR and made Stalin into cuddly old uncle Joe when they were no better than the then common enemy. This airbrushing did irreparable damage to this country and the west in the year after 1945 to the extent that is still acceptable to call ones self a socialist
The DM ran a atory from the Polish news agency showing photos of suitcases full of cash and their owner, wife of a Ukrainian oligarch, escaping into Poland last year. I msant to bookmark the story but it diaappeared an hour later.
Just another example of why Zelensky deserves our help.
Let me correct you.
” Just another example of why Zelensky does NOT deserves our help.”
Zelenskyy is about as corrupt as it is possible to be.
So what? Sort out the wodka-swillers first
Can’t think of a better way to get rid of a dangerous, expansionist threat to all of Europe.
If they’d done this when Hitler took Czechoslovakia, 50 miiliion people wouldn’t have had to die.
Russia is not a dangerous expansionist threat, that is a lie.
Russia is NOT the USSR.
But it is (very incompetently) trying to take back part of the USSR.
That it is instead destroying Russia itself is vastly amusing.
Zelensky stood on an anti-corruption platform – however, as I am sure most will appreciate, the war has likely slowed efforts to tackle corruption.
He’s the biggest thief in the Government haha
William Burns (Director of the CIA) recently made a trip to Kiev to warn Zelensky that his penchant for helping himself to an inordinate commission on the loot was upsetting the Ukrainian generals and ministers, who had to be content with the leftovers. That had to change.
Perhaps you might give us the SOURCE of your post?
Scott Ritter or RT?
That which is asserted without proof, can be rejected without proof
A quite wonderful witticism — originally from Christopher Hitchens, as I recall.
Nice to see another attack on Mariupol’s airport.
The clueless Russians must be driven crazy by now.
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