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December 10, 2017

New Report Reveals Ukraine at Crossroads on Corruption, Human Rights

Kyiv, Ukraine—Human Rights First today released a new report documenting how recent attacks on anti-corruption activists, corruption in government, and media restrictions threaten reform in Ukraine. Democracy in Danger: Ukraine at a Crossroads Four Years After Euromaidan is based on interviews with activists and civil society organizations during a research trip last month. The report outlines recommendations for the United States government to encourage greater protection for Ukraine's civil society in the wake of a recent wave of attacks on anti-corruption activists and institutions. In addition to making statements supportive of Ukraine’s independent anti-corruption institutions, the United States needs to speak out publicly and immediately against judicial harassment and attacks on anti-corruption activists.

"It's time for the U.S. government to show its allies in Ukraine some seriously tough love,” said Human Rights First's Brian Dooley, author of today's report. “The United States and Europe can't afford to watch Ukraine slide back into the old ways of corruption and repression." 

President Petro Poroshenko's post-Euromaidan administration has faced severe institutional difficulties, and continues to fight Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas region. While it has enacted the most significant package of reforms in the country’s post-Soviet history, Ukraine has yet to make a clean break with the past, and public trust in state institutions remains dangerously low. Oligarchs still hold significant power in the country.

"The forces of corruption inside and outside government are lashing out in response to activists' success in exposing bribery," said Dooley, who is releasing the report in Kyiv today with some of Ukraine's leading anti-corruption activists. "Leading civil society figures are being hit with criminal cases. Some have been physically attacked. The U.S. government should urgently encourage Ukraine's authorities to steer away from this path of repression."

Today’s report offers specific recommendations for the United States to further support human rights and democratic institutions in Ukraine, including:

  • Continue to push, publicly and privately, for the establishment of an independent anti-corruption court.
  • Consider using existing authorities to impose visa bans and asset freezes on government officials and their cronies credibly linked to acts of significant corruption.
  • Publicly call for the repeal of laws targeting anti-corruption activists, and for proposed new legislation attacking NGOs to be abandoned.
  • Publicly call for the immediate dismissal of all politically-motivated cases against anti-corruption activists and NGOs.
  • Publicly condemn all abuse and torture by Ukrainian security forces.
  • Insist on greater reforms within the Ukrainian the military, and link aid to measurable results, including the successful prosecution of those guilty of corruption in military procurements.

For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org.