Kiev, Ukraine. The IMF has warned Ukraine for years to handle its corruption problem that runs the whole society, from meter maid to President. Now they have decided to bitch slap Kiev back to reality by doing what Kiev fears the most; stop handing it money.

The IMF, in its last memorandum, specifically recommended that Ukraine establish an Anti-Corruption Court and provide wiretapping powers to the newly-minted National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine or NABU.

Ukraine’s Parliament is corrupt and the President doesn’t want an anticorruption system because it will hurt his business rooted in this system where cronies use political power for personal enrichment. Poroshenko wants to keep this corrupt system through the next election cycle to control the outcome.

Fortunately, the creation of NABU has been a success, resulting in several arrests of high-profile politicians, but no one believes they will be convicted by the current judiciary.

NABU just made two of the highest profile arrests in the country’s recent history—Roman Nasirov, former head of the Internal Revenue Service; and political kingpin Mykola Martynenko—but games were played. Nasirov feigned a heart attack to try and avoid arrest, and Martynenko’s bail hearing was attended by major political figures to intimidate the judge.

NABU has sent forty cases to court and seized more than $200 million in financial assets. The IMF agreed that NABU was working well, but said the government must quickly “operationalize” the Anti-Corruption Court to “create a virtuous circle.”

Clearly, without an independent specialized court, Ukrainians are like inmates in a jail run by the criminals. Transformation into a democratic, free enterprise system is only possible if the rule of law is established.

Many other former Soviet satellites and republics immediately gutted their justice systems once the Iron Curtain fell. East Germany and Estonia fired all their judges at once, and others culled and restructured courts and police forces. Ukraine, on the other hand, did nothing and allowed an elite to carve up the country into financial franchises and to seize control of its politics, media, business, government departments, police, and judiciary.

Fully entrenched, Ukraine’s oligarchy plays a game of attrition. Politicians pay lip service to reforms but delays passage of legislation, change it, then pass it, only to vandalize it or claw back gains. They announce changes and enjoy photo ops, but then it’s business as usual: shakedowns, threats, bribes, and worse.

The failure of the government to stop criminality makes Ukraine a no-go investment destination, said US-Ukraine Business Council President Morgan Williams in an interview. When asked about the fact that the Anti-Corruption Court is still being sandbagged, he did not mince words.

“There is no question the judicial and legal system in Ukraine is for sale,” he said.

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