Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ukraine Update: October 13-November 9, 2016

                                                                      By: Franklin Holcomb and Dmytro Hryckowian

Despite the Ukrainian Government’s continued efforts to enact anti-corruption reforms, confidence in the government continues to fall. The Ukrainian parliament established the“Independent Anti-corruption Committee of Defense” and passed amendments to the tax code on October 26th in a public effort to reduce corruption and increase transparency. Ukrainian government officials also released ‘e-declarations’ of their personal assets in order to expose outsized earnings and assets of some government officials. This positive step to make the government more accountable to citizens was, however, greeted with outrage as Ukrainians realized the sharp disparities in earnings and wealth between average Ukrainians and some of their leaders. In another blow to the government’s reformist image, the Governor of Odessa Oblast Mikheil Saakashvili resigned on November 7, citing vast corruption and distrust in President Petro Poreshenko’s government. President Poroshenko will need to enact more substantial reforms targeting corruption in order to preserve trust in the post Euromaidan government.

Increased instability within the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) suggests a lack of control by the separatist leadership. The Commander of the DNR’s veteran “Sparta” Battalion Arseny Pavlov “Motorola” was assassinated on October 16th, and militant police chiefs and members of the DNR security forces were arrested in Donetsk city on November 2nd. This activity in the DNR follows a recent coup attempt and similar arrests in the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), indicating a general trend of internal purges aimed at reestablishing control over competing factions within the separatist territories. DNR leader Alexander Zakharckenko’s decision to further postpone local elections suggests that the purges may also be an effort to eliminate internal opposition before elections take place. If separatist leadership is unable to quell infighting amongst separatist ranks, Russia may become more active in order to maintain stability and control of pro-Russia forces in Donbas.