Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Has The Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Campaign Come To An End?

Quite possibly.

In today's Washington Post, p. A8, Robin Dixon and David L. Stern report that President Voloymyr Zelensky has removed anti-corruption General Prosecutor Ruslan Ryaboshapka and is replacing him with Uryna Venedkiktova.  She is associated with the oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who has long been the main backer of President Zelensky and who had his control of a major bank removed previously.  Observers have long viewed Zelensky''s connection with Kolomoisky as a danger point in his up-until-now largely successful anti-corruption campaign, which had given much hope to many in Ukraine, where in the last year the economy had grown at a stron 4 percent annual rate.  Some obserers say that if Ryaboshapka had been able to last another six months, his removals of corrupt prosecutors could have reached a critical mass that would have been irreversible.  But he stepped on too many powerful toes whose feet walked to Zelensky to pressure him to stop the campaign.  The new appointee claims that "the law will be obeyed," but most observers are not optimistic.

Obviously this has implications for the relations between Trump and Zelensky.  With Biden now the presumptive Dem nominee, and Trump and Guliani having long pushed Zelensky to bring back corrupt prosecutors who had been removed and were playing along with the efforts to smear Biden, it may be that this new move will be followed by Zelensky moving to help Trump out in his efforts, although that may not necessarily be the case.  In any case, observers now fear that the General Prosecutor's office will return to what it has been before, a conduit for the president to prosecute personal enemies and opponents.  Whatever happens between Zelensky and Trump, this is not a good sign for the future of Ukraine.

Barkley Rosser

No comments: