Published: 24th April 2014
As part of a recent parliamentary delegation to Ukraine I witnessed first hand accounts of the main issues in the Ukrainian crisis; it’s not simply about looking to the EU or to Russia, but about tackling mass state corruption.
There is no doubt that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is using the turmoil in Ukraine for his own political gain based on him envisaging a new Russian Federation to equal the USSR in its power and reach.
Ukrainians are in conflict because it’s the only way they think they can tackle state corruption and bring about an alternative to the abject poverty they find themselves in. With Oligharchs controlling 60% of Ukraine’s GDP, the country has been stripped bare and livelihoods diminished.
The leading politicians, often linked to the Oligarchs, have siphoned off millions for their own gain whilst the basic support of healthcare, rule of law and a functioning civil service in Ukraine has collapsed.
International investment in Ukraine has become minimal, despite huge mineral wealth, and there are areas of rural Ukraine that still operate a feudal system, not dealing in money at all.
Those in the East of the country have only Russian speaking TV, of which ten of the major stations are owned by the very same Oligarchs who do not wish to forge a relationship with the EU; a relationship that would seek to clamp down on state corruption and weaken their links with Moscow, limiting their financial interest.
Those in the mining communities in the East, who have seen a collapse of their social society, receive pitiful wages and endure no job certainty, hark back to the soviet era when they had steady jobs, steady wages and steady prices.
It is, therefore, little surprise against a back drop of television stations spouting propaganda warning ‘the fascist government in Kiev is coming to kill you’, that locals turn to the East for reassurance.
With a false perception that the EU only offers a clamp down on corruption whereas Russia offers stability, the two sides of Ukraine now look outside of the country’s borders as the best device to improve their own lives.
The new political candidates now recognise that they are in the last chance saloon to save their sovereign state and the presidential election on the 25th May marks the start of a complete overhaul of the current corrupt system of government in Ukraine.
Candidates must recognise that they now need to show Ukrainians the benefits of being a sovereign state and the freedoms and wealth it can bring, giving the people what they really want which is an end to the corruption that has destroyed their country.
Ukraine’s government now needs the West to put enough pressure on Putin to let them bring about this revolution themselves. If they fail, Ukraine will – in effect – cease to be and President Putin will have fundamentally changed the world order.