NEWSWATCH Chatham House: Ukraine’s Oligarch Gambit

Maidan Square in Kiev, Ukraine

Writing for Chatham House in the aftermath of Igor Kolomoisky’s dismissal as regional governor, Orysia Lutsevych considers the impact of Ukrainian oligarchs and efforts to address their role.

The grip the oligarchs have on Ukraine’s economy could further undermine the country’s integrity. Attacking their vested interests is dangerous but preserving the current state of affairs is even riskier.

 

According to a recent poll, Ukrainians see three key threats to their country: corruption, oligarchs and Russian aggression. The dismissal of oligarch Igor Kolomoisky from his post as governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region has now exposed the challenges facing the Ukranian government in tackling the first two of these problems, and is just the beginning of a protracted struggle with vested interests. Reform is essential but not without risk − business moguls will try to mobilize resources to preserve their influence and they still hold leverage.

Some reform efforts are focusing on the judiciary, media and private armies.  The author suggests political finance and antitrust also beckon as areas of concern, with Western input relevant impetus for change.

First steps have already been taken to mitigate oligarchic influence: a new law strengthening accountability of judges, public oversight and the independence of the judiciary; a decision to transform the national TV channel into an independent public broadcaster, strengthening the media environment; and the integration of private armies into the national guard. Further goals should include new rules on party finance transparency and the role of the antimonopoly committee, and the West should make financial support to Ukraine conditional on continuing reform.

Click here for “Ukraine’s Oligarch Gambit” – Chatham House – Orysia Lutsevych – April 9, 2015