16 March 2019

As the presidential election in Ukraine is approaching, the Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO) presented the presidential candidates with a Questionnaire on Corruption in the Defence Sector. Of the 44 registered candidates, only 16 responded. The acting Head of State and Commander-in-Chief Petro Poroshenko didn’t provide his answers.

Regarding the candidates who did not respond at all, despite the efforts of the NAKO team to contact, and offer assistance to them, what can be said is that they are either not overly excited about the issue of corruption, ignorant of the matters, or have no views on improvements that they could bring about if elected.

NAKO commends efforts of those who did respond – they agreed to participate in this exercise in transparency and political courage. Beyond the gesture, however, NAKO notes that many responses were off-target or incomplete, indicating poor understanding of the issues, or were fudging the issues, indicating a lack of political will. Very few responses came with actionable commitments.

The take-up to the Questionnaire is very indicative of each individual candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the issues. It is also indicative of the degree of maturity regarding larger issues – or lack thereof; except for one candidate who produced a full set of targeted responses and commitments.

NAKO wishes to stress that the test is not whether a candidate agrees or not with the relevant NAKO recommendations. The measure of satisfaction is whether the candidate demonstrates understanding of the issues, what is at stake, and has a clear view of how he intends to address it insofar as he perceives it to be a problem.

In short, of the candidates who responded, most produced generic, ambiguous or indecisive statements, which does not indicate they have a clear way forward if elected. In particular, considering the Euro-Atlantic integration aim embedded in the Constitution, it is surprising that so few candidates perceive how corruption is an impediment to that stated constitutional aim.

NAKO invites the public to consult its website and see for themselves the responses provided by each candidate, listed per item. Meanwhile, NAKO stands ready to assist all candidates, and the nation at large, in tackling the issues of corruption in the defence sector.

NOTE TO THE EDITOR. The Independent Defence Anti-Corruption Committee (NAKO) aims to reduce corruption and increase accountability in the Ukrainian defence sector. It is a joint initiative of Transparency International Defence and Security (TI-DSP) and Transparency International Україна (ТІ Ukraine). NAKO’s vision is that Ukraine’s defence and security sector that is accountable, efficient, and has a low level of corruption. Its mission is to minimize opportunities for corruption through strong research, effective advocacy, and increased public awareness, in order to strengthen the Ukrainian defence and security sector.

The Committee consists of six members: Editor in Chief of ‘Ukrayinska Pravda’ Sevgil Musaieva, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Former First Deputy Secretary Defence and Security Council of Ukraine Volodymyr Ogryzko, Chairman of Centre UA, co-initiator of Chesno Campaign Oleh Rybachuk, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery and Former Anti-Corruption Commissioner in Slovenia Drago Kos, and anti-corruption expert and Former Head of Oversight of Public Utilities at the UN Mission in Kosovo James Wasserstrom. The committee is supported by a Secretariat in Kyiv, which is led by Olena Tregub.