In the 21st century, it’s common enough to see a therapist for help addressing problems and personal issues you cannot solve or manage on your own. Sometimes that outside perspective from a trained specialist can be exceedingly helpful.
On the other hand, it would be highly counterproductive for a person to depend on a therapist to make all their decisions for them and solve all their problems.
But that is the position in which Ukraine finds itself as it attempts to battle high-level corruption.
Earlier this month, the U. S. Department of Justice de facto accused Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky of fraud and money laundering and moved to seize his properties in the states of Kentucky and Texas. The government’s two forfeiture complaints against the oligarch may also foreshadow criminal charges against him, experts say.
That is great news for Ukraine. But it also underscores a serious problem for the country.
Time and again, Ukraine has failed to prosecute top oligarchs and officials who have collectively robbed the country of billions of dollars. Each time a corrupt official or tycoon has faced justice (or come close), it is because the U.S. has swept in.
Back in 2006, a U.S. court sentenced former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, one of the most corrupt figures in the country’s history, to eight years in prison on extortion and money laundering charges. More recently, the U.S. has been working to extradite Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash from Austria to stand trial on bribery charges. Now, the Department of Justice is going after Kolomoisky.
Why is it that America, a country to whom these men are foreign, is more capable of bringing them to justice than Ukraine, a country that has suffered — and continues to suffer — as a result of their actions?
The answer is that top oligarchs and tycoons lack influence there. They may be able to lobby in Washington, but they do not control people in the halls of power.
Meanwhile, in Ukraine, they have lawmakers in parliament, control officials in regulatory offices and can buy off law enforcement agencies. That is very bad news for the country.
The U. S. pursuing Kolomoisky is the best shot anyone has at bringing him to justice. But, in the long-run, Ukraine cannot rely on America to solve its problems. Whatever benefits the Kolomoisky case in the U.S. may bring for Ukraine, this is also a shameful moment for the country and its leaders.
This is not to say at all that the U.S. shouldn’t be going after Ukraine’s malevolent tycoons. On the contrary, there are more “Kolomoiskys” out there to bring to justice, as tens of billions of dollars have been stolen and laundered elsewhere from Ukrainians by those who abused their power against some of the most vulnerable. Being extradited to the U.S. is one of the biggest fears of the world’s most powerful criminals, as in the U.S., they have very little influence.
Kolomoisky allegedly stole $5.5 billion from the Ukrainian people. His alleged actions made poor Ukrainians poorer and placed the savings of a third of all individual bank depositors in jeopardy. Yet Ukrainian law enforcement largely stands petrified before him, afraid to take action to bring him to justice.
And political leaders talk big about taking down corrupt oligarchs and officials, but seldom actually do that unless dragged kicking and screaming by their foreign partners and donors.
How can any Ukrainian respect such a justice system and such leaders? The answer is simple: They shouldn’t.