Should corrupt Ukrainians be afraid of punishment?

It seems that the more anti-corruption laws are adopted in Ukraine, the more absurd becomes the situation with their enforcement and, therefore, with real punishment of those who are corrupt. To confirm this thesis, we can analyze the evidence of official statistics.

In 2012 (the data available to November, 20), 5,088 administrative and criminal proceedings were sent to court by specially authorized anti-corruption agencies. Of these, 1,516 persons were judged criminally or administratively liable, which is 3.5 times fewer. In the same year 40% fewer crimes in the sphere of official and professional activity, connected with provision of public services, were uncovered in comparison with the situation in 2011.  

In 2013, law enforcement agencies sent to court 4,513 administrative and criminal cases, which is 12% less than the previous year. As a result of protocols in administrative corruption offenses sent to court, 1,696 persons were found liable. For the year, of the 799 persons charged with committing crimes of corruption, only 74 of them were sentenced to imprisonment (that is only 9% from the total amount of those convicted). The total amount of damage caused by criminal corruption offenses was 268.8 million UAH, of which only 10% was recovered, that is 28.6 million UAH.

In 2014, the specially authorized anti-corruption authorities sent to court 4,805 administrative and criminal cases, which was 6% more than the previous year, but 6% less than in 2012.

According to the results of protocols on administrative corruption offenses, 1,914 persons sent to court were prosecuted with a fine. Among these, there have been no members of Parliament, MPs of AR of Crimea, deputies of regional councils, officials of local authorities of the 1st and 2nd categories, or prosecutors. Only one offender was found in 2014 among the ranks of Ukrainian professional judges and employees of the Security Service of Ukraine.

Due to the fines imposed, the state was “enriched” up to 605,688 UAH (for comparison, in 2012 the amount of fines imposed reached 2,104 066 UAH, in 2013 – 1 100 514 UAH). Confiscation was applied to 92 persons. 273 persons were dismissed from official positions. The biggest group of corrupt offenders is found among deputies of village, town, city and district councils – 37%.

As for criminal corruption offenses, 2,381 proceedings were sent to court with indictments in 2014. The first place among them – 43% (1,038) constitute crimes under Art. 368 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code (acceptance of the offer, promise or obtaining of undue advantage by an official, before the change to the CC of Ukraine – bribery). Most of these crimes were uncovered by the police (76%), Security Service of Ukraine found 18% of such socially dangerous acts, prosecutors – 4 %, although according to Art. 216 of CPC of Ukraine and n.1 Sec. XI, investigators of the prosecutor’s office conduct pretrial investigation of criminal offenses committed by judges and law enforcement officials.

If we analyze the reports of the judiciary, the sentences came into legal force on 491 persons, of whom only 445 were convicted and 11 acquitted. So what measures of penalties were imposed on convicts under this article? 134 persons were sentenced to the mildest form of punishment – a fine, 263 persons were released on probation. Of 41 guilty persons, they received sentences of imprisonment for a term (including one sentenced to a term of 10 to 15 years). Confiscation of property as an additional form of punishment was applied to 41 persons.

Thus, in an example of only one article, we can follow how the principle of inevitability of punishment is put into practice in our state: in 2014 law-enforcement bodies registered 1,683 crimes under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, notifications of suspicion were handed to 1,114 persons, 1,038 cases were sent to court with indictments, and 445 were sentenced. Furthermore, 1,720 criminal proceedings under this article were closed!

The cohort of “untouchable” includes again MPs, MPs of the  AR of Crimea, deputies of regional council, officials of local authorities of the 1st and 2nd categories and employees of the Security Service of Ukraine. None of them was brought to liability under Art. 368 of the CC of Ukraine.

Considering all criminal offenses under the official reporting (form #1 – COR) in 2014 the members of Parliament and MPs of the AR of Crimea were law-abiding citizens. Only one person from officials of local authorities in the 1st and 2nd categories, 1 deputy of a regional council, 2 prosecutor’s office employees and 3 employees of the Security Service of Ukraine committed criminal corruption offenses.

In a state with ubiquitous corruption at all levels, a number of officially revealed corruption crimes and administratively punishable offenses appears year-by-year  to decrease or remain at the same level, although, according to M.I. Khavronyuk’s data, the number of state officials in Ukraine has increased by 23.5% from 2002 to 2011, and the number of local authorities’ officials – by 32%. And all this has been accompanied by overall reduction in Ukraine. Alternative sources of information (polls, analysis of economic and social indicators, etc.) and various international rankings show an entirely different situation.

Since corruption offenses are associated with the highest latency level, available statistics is only a reflection of a “desire” of real change and confirms the thesis that the fight against corruption is only a showcase effort. Hence, any improvements in minimizing corruption become impossible without a fundamental change in the criminal justice system and its main “cogs.” And as long as the paralysis of domestic law enforcement agencies continues, the vast majority of actual perpetrators remain unpunished.

© Olena Shostko