Kyiv, September 22, 2014. Corruption remains the biggest challenge to Ukraine’s statehood and security, even in the midst of Russian occupation and aggression against the country. In addition, the Ukrainian government will need to do more to ensure freedom of press, and secure a free and fair upcoming parliamentary election. This was said at Ukraine Crisis Media Center by David Kramer, the president of Washington-based NGO Freedom House.
“The issues of corruption, we think, are at the heart of the challenges that Ukraine faces,” said Kramer. Corruption was one of the key reasons that so many people showed up on Maidan during the past year, and it was also a primary reason that Ukraine has been so vulnerable to Russian aggression. The key tests to Ukraine’s resolve to build a modern democratic state come in the form of anti-corruption measures and protection for journalists, says Kramer.
Ukraine needs to push forward with better anti-corruption measures, and pursue cases and investigations in a credible and non-arbitrary manner. “Journalism is a key part of any democracy, and in Ukraine this is no different,” he stated. Free journalism and anti-corruption come hand in hand, and Ukrainian authorities have not yet taken the necessary steps to protect journalists from intimidation and political violence.
The upcoming parliamentary elections in October will become a major trial for Ukraine’s determination to build a better country. It is important that the elections meet democratic standards, and are conducted freely and fairly. “There is a lot at stake and it is important the elections will be credible and conducted in a democratic fashion,” said Kramer. All efforts should be made to ensure that as many people as possible partake in the elections, including in Crimea and the Donbas.
On the whole, Kramer remains optimistic about democratic developments in Ukraine. “The push for a democratic, accountable government is a very positive change,” he said. “Ukrainians want to see results, they want to see tangible change, and they have the right to demand this from their government.” In order to accomplish this, the Ukrainian government must take a more pro-active role in fighting corruption, and ensuring all Ukrainians’ political and social rights. In this respect establishing an Anti-Corruption Bureau is seen as right and important step.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world. Today, as more than two billion people live under oppressive rule, Freedom House speaks out against the main threats to democracy and empowers citizens to exercise their fundamental rights.