USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action – Zero Corruption Conference

This week, Democracy in Action – Zero Corruption Conference became a testing ground for distilling the ideas of how Ukraine can oppose the threats to democracy posed by corruption, lawfare, and disinformation. In this special issue of our newsletter, we selected opinions of the distinguished speakers to outline the challenges and opportunities to strengthen state policies to keep Ukraine on the track of reform. Spare some free minutes to read and stay on the cutting edge of the struggle for democracy.

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Our Weekly Chart

USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

How often have Ukrainians faced corruption, and who is responsible for overcoming it? USAID/ENGAGE Anticorruption Perception and Experience poll gives answers to these and many other questions. According to its latest data, citizen experience with corruption decreased in 2021 compared to 2018 – one in six Ukrainians directly faced corruption during last year. When asked to choose the most detrimental types of corruption (political, petty, or business), respondents decidedly leaned towards “grand and political corruption” being the greatest evil (87%). The President and his Office are still seen as the entities most responsible for countering corruption in Ukraine (55%), while citizens (67%), media (42%) and NGOs (40%) have the strongest perceived “willingness to overcome corruption.”

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Democracy in Action – Zero Corruption Conference: Quotes and Speakers

USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Presidеnt of Ukraine

“Unfortunately, our society doesn`t have well-developed perception of corruption at all levels of governance, life, as well as lacks zero tolerance towards corruption. However, for the past two years we were doing everything possible to change this situation. The system of anticorruption bodies has already been established and ensured in Ukraine, including NACP, NABU, SAPO, SBI, HACC, etc. People’s deputies of the new convocation lifted their parliamentary immunity, restored criminal liability for illegal enrichment, passed legislation on protection for whistleblowers and enshrined the possibility of civil confiscation of illegal property and assets.”

“In my election program, I declared a goal –  not to fight corruption, but to defeat it. For the first time, we are talking not only about combating corruption, but also about eradicating one of its basic causes – the influence of oligarchs on politicians and civil servants.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Samantha Power, USAID Administrator

“Think about the powerful allies you have in this fight. President Biden issued a presidential memo last week identifying corruption as a core national security priority. This is the first time when the US president elevated the issue in this way. The president’s memorandum recognizes that corruption cripples societies, it steals from the pockets of taxpaying citizens, it breaks down public trust in governmental institutions.”

“Autocrats and oligarchs cannot concentrate power without concentrating wealth through illicit means. So our ability together to identify and expose that behavior needs to be at the heart of our support for democracy around the world.”

“I am pleased to announce that in coming weeks USAID will set up an anti-corruption task force that will elevate, strengthen, and integrate anti-corruption work in the whole Agency drawing on a knowledge of top internal and external experts to counter corruption in Ukraine and beyond.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency

“It is necessary to ensure the independence of anticorruption bodies, which starts with a competitive selection process of the leadership and ends with a better and transparent disclosure of any interference in the work of these bodies.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Mircea Geoană, NATO Deputy Secretary General

“There is no way in which any nation in this world would ever be able to thrive, unless we have good public service – transparent, accountable. Until we have credible, effective, and accountable judiciary.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Gianni Buquicchio, President of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe

“Corruption is and undermining factor because it threatens the function of the state institutions and pushes towards extreme solutions sometimes at odds with the constitution. Corruption is an impunity factor, because it shields criminals – notably grand corruptors – from sanctions & sends a message to the society that the system of accountability & responsibility is not fair, is not equal to all.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Artem Sytnyk, Director of the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine

“Lawfare, using legal gaps and sometimes intentional ignoring laws has been characteristic of Ukraine as a transitional democracy. This issue has become more evident in the last two years… As a head of an anti-corruption body, I am concerned about using ways to stop investigations via courts. When the Higher Anticorruption Court was launched with the involvement of international experts, things became problematic for the suspects under NABU investigations. It was impossible to arrange for any positive outcome neither with the detectives of NABU nor the judges of HACC who started passing long awaited sentences… In some cases, there were attempts – some of them successful – to hand over the cases from NABU to other investigative bodies, which is entirely against the legislative field.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Roland Kovats, Chief of Party of the USAID/ENGAGE Activity

“A conference by civil society is one place which cannot be contaminated by any sort of dirty money, as civil society is the one that operates transparently and openly in Ukraine and we wanted to demonstrate that.”

“The uniqueness of this event is that we were able to do real-time discussion from different parts of the world with citizens, those who really benefit from all the reforms and changes. It is crucial for the world to preserve how to regularly interact with citizens, by not only strengthening their voice, but listening to them, hearing their needs and reflecting their demands.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Alyona Hetmanchuk, Director New Europe Center

“We believe this study is very timely because in a week there is going to be a NATO summit in Brussels. Inter alia, strategic plans of the Alliance by 2030 will be discussed. It is vital for Ukraine that during the discussion not only the open doors policy is confirmed, but also defined the way this policy can be implemented.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Olena Halushka, AntAC expert

“Defending democracy requires strong leadership, unity and trustful cooperation especially when your enemy is a kleptocratic regime. Dirty money, terrorism, disinformation – they disregard borders especially when kleptocracies use them to erode democracies from the inside. Not only successful examples of established democracies, but even more – their alliances, their cooperation and their potential to cherish transitional democracies and help the reforms threaten autocrats.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Daria Kaleniuk, Executive director at the Anticorruption Action Center

“All of these oligarchs, they claim to be entrepreneurs. It’s a big issue: how to distinguish oligarchs from, actually, entrepreneurs who are paying taxes, who are not interfering with politics, who are not interfering with media.”

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USAID/ENGAGE Special Newsletter: Democracy in Action - Zero Corruption Conference

Hanna Hopko, Chairwoman of Democracy in Action – Zero Corruption Conference

“Since Maidan, it has been our dream to have a non-oligarchic conference, so that the organizers could themselves form the agenda. AntAC, where Daria Kaleniuk serves as an executive director, has many achievements to share. In its turn, Ukraine has the potential of a leader in the region that needs to be revealed. During the conferences, we will talk not only about Ukraine, but about the global solutions, because corruption has infiltrated Western democracies as well.”

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