A dash cam captures the moment of Ukraine’s deputy minister security attacking investigative journalists. 28 April, 2015.

High Profile Resignations Hit Ukraine Government

Hromadske International’s Sunday Show Examines High-Profile Resignations Hitting The Ukrainian Government

The Sunday Show is the flagship TV-show produced by the Hromadske International team from its global headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine. This is the only prime-time TV program explaining the Eastern European geopolitical storm in English.

This week:

anchored by Maxim Eristavi and Sabra Ayres

produced by Chris Dunnett, Isobel Koshiw, Stephen Gellner and Maria Zhdanova

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Three high-profile departures hit the Ukrainian government in the span of one week. A deputy minister of economy is pushed out of his job: his government mailbox was canceled, and his team was notified that their boss is not allowed inside the government headquarters anymore. Actually, turns out, after two and half months working in the ministry, he was never officially hired as prime minister Yatsenyuk didn’t sign his hiring papers.
Sasha Borovik, First Deputy of Ukraine’s Economy Minister. Photo: United Nations Development Programme Ukraine / undp.org.ua

First Foreigner Pushed Out

Sasha Borovik was fired just four days after he said this on Hromadske International’s Sunday Show:

“The economic elite didn’t change, the political elite barely changed”, Sasha Borovik, first Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade told Hromadske. The old Ukrainian elites are still in place which blocks reform of the current system of corruption and inefficiency, according to Borovik.

Borovik and his team, who are mostly expats, are outnumbered by old guard and expected to work within the old system, rather than reform it. Moreover, according to Borovik, those who have been in politics for a number of years know how to play with the system whereas the reformers are onlookers. At the moment the reformers are restricted to middle level positions and it is a struggle for them to change the system. Sasha Borovik says the government fired him for being too pushy on radical reforms and the last tipping point was him suggesting an audit of money that the Ukrainian government receives as international aid. The problem is that Sasha Borovik, a Harvard Law graduate and former Microsoft layer, wasn’t working in a “constructive manner”, says the official statement from the Economy ministry.

Ukraine’s economy minister itself tweets later: “There are going to be hiring mistakes. We move on.”

Many people in Ukraine and abroad were upset at the way Sasha Borovik was treated. One of the world’s most influential scholars in transition economics Gerard Roland speaks out for Sasha Borovik, Ukraine’s deputy minister of economy:

“There is no doubt that Sasha Borovik’s great knowledge of business and institutions in advanced modern democracies, his intellectual independence, his courage, idealism, integrity and outspokenness ruffled feathers among those who in the shadows want to continue with corrupt and opaque ways, who pretend to reform to continue receiving money from the West, who are satisfied with lousy compromises with dark oligarchic powers…. Getting rid of Borovik is not a good sign of the current Ukrainian government’s willingness to do serious reforms. It is a shame and a scandal and will hopefully lead to more serious scrutiny from international financial institutions about how reforms are implemented …. or not implemented, and how financial aid is really used.”
The undisclosed house of deputy Interior Minister in Kyiv suburb.

‘The HouseGate’

Deputy Interior Minister Serhiy Chobotar also left the government after a corruption scandal involving a lavish piece of property journalists claim was never listed on his assets statements. The property was built on conservation land south of Kyiv. Journalists from ZIK TV channel attempted to access the property and were attacked, robbed by security guards.

Mr. Chobotar says he has no relations to this property, but documents uncovered by the journalists show his daughter listed as the property owner. Public officials are required to disclose not only their own incomes and assets, but those of their immediate family members. Mr. Chobatar resigned, but says he’s being harassed by the media:

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov was dogding the questions on the issue all the time as the case is now being investigated by the general prosecutor:

The scandal won’t go away after the resignation, though. High-profile MP Serhiy Leschenko, along with 18 other members of the Ukraininan parliament signed a document calling for the resignation of Minister Avakov:

Despite some progress, the old way of conducting politics still continues in post-Maidan Ukraine, says Serhiy Leschenko a Member of Parliament and outspoken critic of oligarchic influence in Ukrainian politics. Recent revelations about alleged corruption in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which resulted in the resignation of a deputy minister, are emblematic of this problem.

Serhiy Leschenko is a representative of Petro Poroshenko Bloc. He therefore is faced with an interesting dynamic of crusading against oligarchs and having leader Poroshenko remain an oligarch; so long as he has his ‘Roshen’ chocolate empire. During his Presidential campaign Poroshenko promised to sell his chocolate corporation to focus on governing Ukraine, something he has yet to do.

While the new blood was infused into parliamentary following the October 2014 elections, the old guard still dominates while newer political figures have found it easier to conduct politics as before. Oligarchic influence in parliament is still significant. Ultimately, corruption saps European support for Ukraine, which is hesitant to use tax-payers’ money to support the country economically.

While the old guard still dominates, there has been some recent progress with the passage of a batch of reforms. Leschenko believes that one beneficial approach to limit oligarchic influence in policy-making would be the introduction of public financing of political parties. This would increase transperancy and lessen the dependence of parties on oligarch’s money.

‘The CarGate’

Oleksandr Yershov, another high-profile official from the Ukrainian government and the Traffic Police Chief, resigned on May 20th. It happened following the investigation by Ukrainian journalists who exposed his daughter’s posting photos on social media with their $100,000 cars. The combined amount of vehicles owned by the Yershov family are far beyond the means of the salary declared by the official — 12,000 euros.

Pictures of Anastasia and Daryna Yershov with their respective vehicles. RFE/RL

The Yershov family’s luxurious lifestyle was investigated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and within hours of the story going public Oleksandr Yershov resigned.

Yershov’s daughters, Anastasia and Daryna, have posted photos with their cars and frequently post pictures of their travels abroad. While Yershov still claims that what his daughters do with their lives and money is their business and does not involve him.

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