Euromaidan Dreams Deferred

Poroshenko, Corruption, and Stalled Political Progress in Ukraine

Women cry during a commemoration ceremony at the site where anti-Yanukovich protesters were killed during clashes in Kiev, Ukraine, November 21, 2015. Gleb Garanich / Reuters

This winter marks the second anniversary of Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, more commonly known as the Euromaidan revolution. That winter’s stand against former President Viktor Yanukovych culminated in violence against Ukrainians, leaving over 100 protesters dead. Nearly two years after Yanukovych left power, however, little has been done to bring the perpetrators of violence to justice. President Petro Poroshenko has not demonstrated the political will needed to fight Ukraine’s oligarchs and high levels of corruption. Poroshenko, it seems, like his predecessors, may fail to bring justice, respect, and humanity that Ukrainians demanded in the revolutions in 2004 and 2013–2014

Not surprisingly, many Ukrainians are skeptical of Poroshenko’s intentions. Poroshenko is unpopular in just about every region of Ukraine: a recent poll showed that only 17 percent of participating Ukrainians support him. These anemic poll numbers give the president less support than Yanukovych had when he was ousted from power. Although 88 percent of Ukrainians view corruption as being widespread in the country, as few as five percent of those polled believe that the nation’s authorities are implementing policies aimed at reducing it. Little wonder that two-thirds of Ukrainians believe that their country is heading in the wrong direction.

Support for the government in Ukraine is at its lowest level in a decade as its citizens feel the squeeze of unpopular economic, social, and fiscal reforms. The nation’s economy is in the middle of a depression, and one of a few potential signs of progress—prosecutions against corrupt oligarchs and senior members of Yanukovych’s old regime—has not materialized. It appears that Poroshenko lacks the political will to pursue criminal charges against former allies who were responsible for bankrupting Ukraine through corruption, political repression, and the murder of his opponents.

Although Poroshenko’s ascendance to power was hoped to bring in an era of political transparency, he has not appeared to seek real changes to fundamental power dynamics between Ukrainian business leaders and politicians. Political power is still viewed as

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