One of the demands of the Maidan in 2013-2014 was, first of all, the fight against grand corruption. Since then, it has been a difficult path to create an anti-corruption infrastructure, mainly aimed at combating high-level corruption.
It is too early still to evaluate its activity and see whether it has met expectations. It took a while to form all these agencies — the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the High Anti-Corruption Court, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, and others. But we can look at their recent performance in isolation.
Most hopes were on the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine. The NABU is an effective example of how a law enforcement agency can be built from scratch. It was not based on old Soviet traditions; instead, it had completely different ways, an open call for recruitment of detectives, regular reporting, communication with the public, journalists, CSOs; it has been working under rigorous public scrutiny.
However, the expectations placed on NABU 6 years ago were somewhat erroneous. After all, the NABU consists of detectives who carry out investigations, but there are still prosecutors who manage this investigation and only then present these cases in court. Therefore, unfortunately, in our country, even carefully collected evidence and its quality presentation in court is not a guarantee of success.
Despite this, NABU has initiated hundreds of different proceedings. It has been relentless to corrupt officials. There are not many detectives in the Bureau, just over 200, and for more than 6 years, in addition to their direct duties, they have been dealing with high-level cases with extraordinary risks for themselves.
Another body, the High Anti-Corruption Court, is something we have been missing for decades. We know how cases could be investigated and prosecuted and then end up in a regular district court in Kyiv, where they would stay ‘til the cows come home. Again, the High Anti-Corruption Court has been operating for only 13 months, and grand corruption cases are very complex: they require a thorough examination. In addition, corrupt officials hide their money abroad, ie investigation should involve international cooperation, which cannot be properly assessed after a year.
However, the real fight against corruption is not just the work of anti-corruption bodies. This also includes initiatives that were created by the public and then transferred to the government.
For me, Prozorro is also a component of the anti-corruption mechanism. This is an important tool that helps regulate one of the most corrupt sectors in our country — public procurement. The ProZorro.Sale system also plays an equally important role in this prevention process. For example, the privatization of the Dnipro Hotel worked as a transparent system in which everyone could participate, not just a small group of people for bribes.
Such systems are a major step, and we can already see the outcomes, with more to come. However, it is important to remember that such systems are just tools, and response to violations is up to completely different agencies.
Although the anti-corruption infrastructure was fully formed a year ago, the state is an even more complex mechanism that needs time to change. And with interventions such as the CCU’s decision on electronic declarations or other attempts to put pressure on anti-corruption bodies, it may take even longer.
However, we can already see markers that show attempts to prevent corruption here in Ukraine, and I am confident that in the next five years, we will see some remarkable results.
Together with Ukrainska Pravda, we have made a documentary about Ukraine’s anti-corruption infrastructure.