bne IntelliNews -
Ukraine is trying to publicise its efforts to clamp down on corruption, as a crucial deadline looms for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to review conditions for extending billions of dollars in credits.
In the south-eastern city of Zaporizhia, the head of the local anti-corruption committee and a councillor have been detained on suspicion of extorting bribes, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on May 20.
"The head of the anti-corruption committee decided to show how to ‘fight corruption’ in practice," Avakov wrote on his Facebook page, without revealing the names of the suspects.
The detained official and a local Communist council deputy had demanded the mayor of the city pay them $10,000 to keep his job, Avakov said. The pair were caught red-handed by the state’s economic crimes task force as they received the first part of the money, and now face between five and 10 years in jail.
The incident demonstrates government efforts to halt endemic corruption in Ukraine, which is a condition of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for granting the country $17.5bn in urgently needed credits.
In mid-June the IMF is due to review Ukraine’s track record in fighting corruption since the bailout was agreed in March. With the national economy collapsing amid tensions with Russia and the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern regions, the government under Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk has been promoting its efforts to stamp out graft.
The public drive began in March with the arrest before TV cameras of the former head of Ukraine's emergency services ministry and his deputy during a cabinet meeting.
However, accusations of complicity in corruption have also been levelled at the prime minister and other top government officials.
The parliament in Kyiv is investigating allegations by the ex-head of the state financial inspectorate that Yatsenyuk and his entire cabinet were aware of embezzlement schemes at state-owned companies that cost the country at least $150mn under their watch. Mykola Gordienko claims he was suspended from his position of top state auditor after detailing the fraud and was finally fired on April 4.
The mud-slinging has not improved Ukraine’s image as it tries to raise $40bn in credits and restructured loans to repay the country’s debts and rebuild its economy.
The world is growing weary of hearing about Ukraine’s problems, former president Viktor Yushchenko said in the Sevodnya newspaper on May 20, comparing his country to "a troublesome fly" in the world arena. "We are not even number two or number three on the agenda," Yushchenko said.
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