Ukraine: Virtual Politics, Real Corruption

In Washington secretly recorded tapes ended the Presidency of Richard Nixon. In Kiev the same sort of material has galvanised the President’s team for a fight. It has also suggested that many of those eager to replace him have similarly murkey pasts. Politics Ukrainian style is a competition for power and wealth rather than ideas – corruption has strength in depth.

The World Today Published 1 June 2001 Updated 27 November 2020 6 minute READ

Dr Andrew Wilson

Partner, ASquared Media

For almost six months the Gongadze scandal has engulfed Ukraine. It is a plot which could have been lifted from a James Ellroy pulp novel: secret tapes were supposedly recorded in President Leonid Kuchma’s office by a disgruntled security officer, who has since claimed exile in the US. The resulting thousand hours of intimate conversation have apparently implicated the authorities in the disappearance of the investigative internet journalist Hryhorii Gongadze – whose headless corpse was found a few weeks before – and a whole host of other political and financial malpractices.

However, the President seems to be riding out the storm, and roughhouse tactics have stunted the various opposition groups seeking to force him from office. In fact, given the choice between the President and his reformist Prime Minister, who has been squeezing the corrupt to help pay wage and pensions arrears, it was the latter who was forced from office on 26 April.

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