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    Ukrainians Exhausted, Running Out of Patience With Government Corruption

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    Ukrainians are running out of patience with their government, Germany's Sueddeutscher Zeitung reports. The country's president, the newspaper writes, has not been able to make good on his campaign promises, while corruption flourishes and oligarchs continue to call the shots.

    Speaking to Mustafa Nayyem, one of the activists who spearheaded the Euromaidan protests which ended in the overthrow of the government of former president Viktor Yanukovych in a coup d'état in February 2014, Sueddeutscher Zeitung recalled that "in his one-and-a-half years in Ukraine's parliament, Nayyem, an MP from the Petro Poroshenko electoral bloc, witnessed many discussions about the fight against corruption."

    "When we in the party speak with the president, everything sounds good," the politician said. "But in fact, nothing is good."

    This, SZ explains, "is why Nayyem, born in Kabul and raised in Kiev, came out on Monday along with hundreds of other Ukrainians to protest against the stagnation in the country's politics in front of the presidential administration."

    ​"Rally in Kiev in front of the presidential administration building calling for the resignation of Prosecutor General Shokin."

    Unfortunately, the newspaper noted, "despite Poroshenko's promises for reforms, there has been no real progress in the fight against corruption and nepotism, or against the oligarchs, who control the media, political parties and the economy. And this is not surprising, because the president himself is an oligarch."

    Olexander Mischura, a military chaplain, also came to protest in front of Poroshenko's headquarters. "Two years ago, before he was elected, Poroshenko loudly promised us that he would sell his chocolate empire Roshen. I have not heard anything to the effect that he has actually done so," Mischura said.

    In fact, SZ confirmed, "all across Ukraine, new Roshen shops are opening up."  

    Saying that he makes regular visits to the front lines in eastern Ukraine, the chaplain added that while "the guys are shedding blood for a better Ukraine…every time they hear that nothing is moving forward in Kiev, they get increasingly frustrated."

    The country's eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk were turned into a warzone in April 2014, after Kiev launched a punitive military operation to crush nascent pro-Russian, anti-Maidan forces in the east of the country.

    As to the fight against corruption, Nayyem put it this way: "For two years we have been talking about the fight against corruption and the need for an independent general prosecutor's office, and nothing has happened." The general prosecutor, the newspaper added, with 18,000 employees under his command, is formally the key figure in the fight against corruption, but is committed to the task "only on paper."

    "After Poroshenko's elections, we have heard many beautiful words from him and the two general prosecutors he appointed, but there has been no action," Nayyem complained. In fact, he suggested, prosecutor general Viktor Shokin has not only failed to investigate Yanukovych-era corruption, but begun a clampdown on civil groups investigating his own corrupt affairs.

    "Shokin actively blocks the repeal of immunity for lawmakers accused of corruption. Prosecutors who actively fight against corruption are either sidelined or sacked."

    Now, Sueddeutscher Zeitung notes, Shokin appears to have finally been sacked, in a move hailed by Kiev's patrons in Washington and Brussels; nevertheless, Ukraine's political bag of tricks continues to bear gifts elsewhere. "In the case of unpopular Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Poroshenko said that he had agreed to his resignation two months ago, but he remains in office."

    As far as Yatsenyuk's likely replacement, Rada speaker Volodymyr Groisman is concerned, Miriam Kosmehl of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Kiev told the paper that he would be likely to "pursue the interests of the president and individual political groups."

    In other words, business as usual. The only question that remains is: how long will it last?

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    Tags:
    oligarchy, oligarchs, protest, protests, corruption, Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine
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