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Ukrainian professor Oleh Bazaluk [uk] reports that the roots of the Ukrainian corruption stem from the Soviet nature of the Ukrainian political leaders, who used to be integrated into Communist nomenclature (ruling elite) before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The politicians created an authoritarian-oligarchic governance regime in Ukraine where the corruption became ubiquitous with no chances to implement a European choice of the Ukrainian people.
In a August 2020 survey by the Ilko Kucheriv Foundation for Democratic Initiatives [uk] 41.8% of respondents stated that corruption "is a shameful phenomenon that has no objective grounds" while 36% choose the option that corruption is "a component of social traditions." Respondents from Southern and Western Ukraine more often chose the option of corruption being "a component of social traditions" (42.2% and 43.4%). The option "a shameful phenomenon that has no objective grounds" was more often chosen by respondents in Central Ukraine (47.5%) and Eastern Ukraine (53.45%).
Bribes are given to ensure that public services are delivered either in time or at all. Ukrainians stated they give bribes because they think it is customary and expected. Some of the biggest bribes involve more than $1 million USD.  According to a 2008 Management Systems International (MSI) sociological survey, the highest corruption levels were found in vehicle inspection (57.5%), the police (54.2%), health care (54%), the courts (49%) and higher education (43.6%). On June 8, 2011 Ukrainian PresidentViktor Yanukovych stated that corruption costs the state budget US$2.5 billion in revenues annually and that through corrupt dealings in public procurement 10% to 15% (US$7.4 billion) of the state budget "ends up in the pockets of officials".
In May 2016 the IMF mission chief for Ukraine stated that the reduction of corruption was a key test for continued international support. Some western analysts believe that large foreign loans are not encouraging reform, but enabling the corrupt extraction of funds out of the country. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland urged Ukraine to start prosecuting corrupt officials: "It's time to start locking up people who have ripped off the Ukrainian population for too long and it is time to eradicate the cancer of corruption".
Individual involvement in corruption
The biggest recipients of bribery are the police, the health service and the education system. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, around 67% of Ukrainians who had dealt with government said that they had been directly involved in corrupt transactions. In a survey in 2010, 30-49.9% of respondents admitted paying a bribe to a service provider during the past year; in a similar survey in 2007, 18-32% of respondents admitted paying a bribe. A comparable figure for Great Britain for 2011 was 1.9%. However, in a different survey in late 2008, only 21% responded that they or anyone living in their household had paid a bribe in any form in the previous 12 months; comparable figures for the U.S. and UK were 2% and 3% respectively. In a GfK survey held in the summer of 2001 43% stated they never personally had given bribes.
In 2013 74% would not report an incident of corruption; 24% were afraid of consequences, 63% believed it would not make any difference.
In the years after Ukrainian independence, election fraud was widespread, mainly through the use of "administrative resources". On the other hand, according to Taras Kuzio election fraud in Ukraine can only reach five percent of the total vote. Outright vote rigging diminished after the 2004 presidential election. After this election, the Supreme Court of Ukraine ruled that due to the scale of the electoral fraud, it became impossible to establish the election results and ordered a revote. Although politicians still claim(ed) election fraud and administrative tricks to get more votes for a particular party have not vanished. The Ukrainian electorate remains highly skeptical about the honesty of the election process. Any voter who engages in election fraud faces a maximum sentence of two years in jail, though activists say no one has been punished for voter fraud since Ukrainian independence.
United States diplomats have claimed the privatization of several Ukrainian state enterprises were rigged in favor of political friends. On a regional level, corruption has been discovered in connection with land allocation.
Ukrainian politicians have regularly accused each other of corruption while claiming to fight it themselves. After mockly joining the parliamentary faction Reforms for the Future in early 2012, Roman Zabzalyuk claimed this faction "bought" its members for "US$500,000 (for a "defection" from other parliamentary groups), and then they pay a monthly salary of $20,000-25,000"; according to Reforms for the Future, Zabzalyuk pretended he was "suffering a very serious disease" and the group had managed to raise some $100,000 for Zabzalyuk to undergo surgery in Israel.
Since July 1, 2011, the President, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Prime Minister, Prosecutor General, ministers and other Ukrainian top officials have been liable for prosecution for corruption. Kost Bondarenko (chairman of the board of the Institute of Ukrainian Politics), claims that before 2010, there was an unwritten rule in Ukrainian politics, "No charges were brought against members of the outgoing government, and their successors never had to worry about what tomorrow might bring"; but in 2010 and 2011, "criminal charges were brought against 78 members of the former government; and more than 500 criminal cases have been opened against sitting officials.". However, since 2010 the Ukrainian press brought up thousands of examples of criminal cases in which state officials, as well as politicians and businessmen linked to the ruling Party of Regions, were shown leniency unprecedented for the general population of suspects.
Ukrainian media, particularly the Ukrayinska Pravda, regularly unveil a millionaire lifestyle of Ukrainian politicians and publica servants, utterly contradictive to their declared official incomes.
According to historian Andrew Wilson, as of 2016 progress in reducing corruption was poor. A 2015 survey showed that 72% of adults blamed "corruption of power" for the lack of progress in reform.
A requirement upon MPs from October 2016 to declare their wealth led to the 413 MPs cumulatively declared wealth of about $460 million. Reacting to public criticism, MPs cancelled a salary rise that would have doubled their monthly salary. This measure was part of an Anti-Corruption Package passed into law in October 2014, which was a requirement of international financial support for Ukraine and a prerequisite to eligibility for visa-free travel within the European Union.
Several Ukrainian mayors have been suspected of using their posts to serve their own business interests.
Ukrainian politicians and analysts have described the system of justice in Ukraine as "rotten to the core" and have complained about political pressure put on judges and corruption. Independent lawyers and human rights activists have complained Ukrainian judges regularly come under pressure to hand down a certain verdict. Ukraine's court system is widely regarded as corrupt. A Ukrainian Justice Ministry survey in 2009 revealed that only 10% of respondents trusted the nation's court system. Less than 30% believed that it was still possible to get a fair trial.
A 2017 Reuters article quotes then-PM Volodomyr Groysman, saying that "the weakest link in our fight against corruption is the Ukrainian court"; giving an example of 30 judges "with annual salaries ranging from US$10,000-13,000" who own Porsches. As another example, on May 22, 2012 Volodymyr Rokytskyi, Deputy Head of Ukraine's Security Service, was photographed in public wearing a US$32,000 luxurywristwatch -- despite the fact that its price amounts to his yearly official income -- at a joint Ukrainian-American event dedicated to fighting illegal drugs. Ukrainian judges have been arrested while taking bribes.
Critics have also complained that officials and their children (the latter ones are known as "mazhory") receive favourable sentences compared with common citizens.
In 2015 corruption allegations were made against Energoatom, Ukraine's state nuclear power operator. In March 2016, Energoatom's assets and bank accounts were frozen by Ukrainian courts over allegedly unpaid debts, against which Energoatom is appealing.
As of 2016, many of Ukraine's major provincial highways are in very poor condition, with an Ukravtodor official stating that 97% of roads are in need of repair. The road repair budget was set at about 20 billion hryvnias, but corruption causes the budget to be poorly spent.
Corruption in higher education
Higher education in Ukraine is plagued with bribery. In 2011 33% of all students claimed they have encountered corruption in their school, 29% heard about cases of corruption from other students, while 38% had not encountered corruption. According to Transparency International research done in 2008, 47.3% of university students stated that a bribe had been demanded from them; of those, 29% had paid this bribe freely. Students can "buy" a college entry, exam results, marking doctoral and/or master's theses.
Bribes range from US$10 to US$50 for an exam pass to several thousand for entry to a university. According to government sources, bribes vary from US$80 to US$21,500. Salaries of teachers and professors are low in Ukraine compared with other professions; this may cause them to be tempted to demand bribes. According to Ararat Osipian entire corruption hierarchies have formed in Ukraine's colleges and universities. These hierarchies evolved evolutionary since the 1990s as the result of uncontrolled and rampant corruption. Ararat claims that corrupt ruling regimes control corrupt universities and force them into compliance, including during the elections. This was aided by universities largely remain Stalinist type bureaucracies, unable to transform.
Until 2015 university autonomy was nonexistent. In 2015 the Ukrainian parliament passed a new law on higher education to give universities more autonomy, including control over their own finances. The aim was to encourage private investment, fundraising and the creation of endowments.
Ukrainian government officials have been caught with fake university diplomas.
Research conducted by Ernst & Young in 2011 and 2012 showed that the practice of top managers accepting bribes increased by 9 percent in 2011 and 15 percent in 2012. Another 4 percent were ready to pay bribes in order to hide the details of their financial performance.
The representative of one United Kingdom-based company has claimed non-Ukrainian companies often lose contracts if they will not pay bribes or fail to "out-bribe" their competitors. Ukrainians and business representatives have claimed "Business ventures above a certain level require palm-greasing of some functionary at some level".
Corruption in the social security system
In 2012 PresidentViktor Yanukovych reported that only about 23 percent of social service funds go to those who actually need it. The Ukrainian media have featured many stories revealing that even parliamentarians illegally receive social benefits, fraudulently claiming to be war and Chernobyl veterans.
Corruption in healthcare
Though medical care in state-run hospitals is theoretically free for Ukrainians, patients' paying money there to ensure they receive the treatment required is widespread.
In June 2012 advocacy groups accused Health Ministry officials of embezzling money that should be used to treat AIDS patients by buying AIDS drugs at hugely inflated prices and then receiving kickbacks.
In 2008 Transparency International estimated that 30 to 50 percent of all Ukrainians had faced government corruption. Juhani Grossmann (working for an a.o. Management Systems International project) claimed in 2009 that "Ukrainians pay roughly ?3.5 billion, or more than US$400 million, in bribes annually." The previous year, he claimed that the figure was US$700 million.
"Turchynov stated that Yushchenko told him in mid-August to stop 'persecuting my men' and that the investigation of RosUkrEnergo was 'creating a conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin'". A survey conducted in November 2008 showed that 73% of people in Ukraine considered the second Tymoshenko Government's actions against corruption to be ineffective; comparable figures for the U.S. and the UK were 73% and 39%. In a survey in 2001, when Kuchma was President, 80% of Ukrainians "totally/fairly agreed" with the statement: "The present government has no real interest in punishing corruption".
Just like his predecessor Yushchenko, President Viktor Yanukovych (and his Azarov Government) made the fight against corruption a spearhead in his domestic policies. Political opponents of Yanukovych have accused him of using his anti-corruption campaign for politically motivated trials; the general public in Ukraine largely shares this view. President Yanukovych has denied this.
The law on the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine were cases concerning corruption will be bought directly to this court came into force on 14 June 2018. In June 2018 President Poroshenko expected the court to be established before the end of 2018. On 5 September 2019 the High Anti-Corruption Court did start to work.
Due to IMF concern that oligarchs would use the courts to seize bailout money, parliament passed a bill on 13 May 2020 to prevent courts from reversing bank nationalizations. The bill would combat a lawsuit by oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and others seeking to regain control of PrivatBank, the recipient of a $5.5 billion 2016 bailout and an alleged "money laundering machine" under Kolomoisky.
On 27 October 2020, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine ruled that anti-corruption legislation, including the mandatory electronic declaration of income, was unconstitutional. President Zelensky warned that if parliament did not restore these anti-corruption laws, foreign aid, loans and a visa-free travel to the European Union were at risk. The Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine reported that Ukraine will not receive the scheduled $700 million IMF load before the end of 2020 because of the issue. IMF assessment teams had not visited Kyiv for eight months, which is necessary for further IMF loan tranches to be released.
Corruption Perceptions Index ratings in Ukraine 1998-2018
Transparency International produces an annual report listing each country's Corruption Perceptions Index score. This "score relates to perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts and, through 2011, ranged between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt)." In the 2010 report, the least corrupt country listed was Denmark with a score of 9.3, and the most corrupt of the 178 countries listed was Somalia with a score of 1.1. From 2012 on, the scores were presented on a 0-100 scale. In the 2016 report, Denmark was still the least corrupt country listed with a score of 90, and Somalia was still the most corrupt of the 176 countries listed, with a score of 10. By comparison, Germany, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom tied as 10th least corrupt countries with a score of 81, and the United States was 18th least corrupt with a score of 74.
The following table lists Ukraine's place in the Corruption Perceptions Index table, based on Transparency International's annual reports from 1999 onward. The methods used in assessing the Index change from year to year, so comparisons between years are difficult.
In 2014's Transparency InternationalCorruption Perceptions Index Ukraine was ranked 142nd out of the 175 countries investigated (tied with Uganda and the Comoros).
Note: For 1999 and 2000, the data were listed as 1998 and 1999 respectively. From 2001, the data listed are stated to be for the year of the annual report. Up to 2005, the annual report included some measures of the uncertainty of the index scores; these data were omitted from the annual reports from 2006 onwards, but were contained in the CPI report.
Public Perception of Corruption in Institutions of Ukraine
The following table shows average scores from a survey of Ukrainian public perception of corruption in Ukraine's institutions. Comparable figures for the United Kingdom and the United States from surveys for 2009 (for British and American people's perception of corruption in their own countries) are shown at the bottom of the table.
^ abTransparency International Global Corruption Barometer 2009 ReportArchived June 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, June 2, 2009, ISBN978-3-935711-28-9 pdf Abs1:22, 32, 33. In Ukraine, 1200 people were interviewed face to face in a national survey November 4-12, 2008. The survey in the UK was of 1018 people interviewed online November 27 - December 1, 2008. The survey in the U.S. was of 1017 people interviewed online October 30 - November 4, 2008. (pdf ABs1:22).
^The confidence range is a measure of the degree of certainty about the Corruption Perception Index score. Nominally, the true score has a 1 in 20 probability of being above the upper range, and a 1 in 20 probability of being below the lower range. If the number of surveys available was low, then these 1 in 20 probabilities might really only be 1 in 10.