01 May 2011

Corruption in Ukraine

Much has been written about the problems of corruption and the attempts to reduce corruption in Ukraine. Most people would agree that Ukraine is a very corrupt country. Public 'servants' almost everywhere will refuse to do anything unless they are provided with a financial inducements.

We all hear many stories of how public officials ranging from traffic police through to high ranking presidential officials will not do anything for you unless you offer certain sums in cash.
It is a way of life in Ukraine.

My personal experience is different in that I have NEVER paid a bribe in my life. I have been here since 2002. During this time I have experienced many situations where I was 'prompted' to offer a 'financial reward' to someone. But I have always resisted. Even when some of my expat British friends have said 'Oh just pay them it will be easier'. I have always stood my ground and refused to pay any bribes to traffic cops or government officials.

Do not misunderstand me. I have been stopped by traffic police many times and on some occasions I was speeding and guilty and I then asked for the correct 'protocol' to be followed.
No surprise that nothing happened and I have never received any notifications via the postal service. I doubt that the traffic police even bothered to submit any official reports even though I was clearly guilty of speeding. The reason being is that I clearly refused to pay any cash sums to people on the spot. On one occasion I was traveling with a car full of Ukrainians and they started to protest when I refused to pay any cash bribes to the police. For them it was not a problem, and they just could not see why anyone would refuse to pay as it made things easier.

THAT is exactly my point about corruption in Ukraine. Too many people are quick to pay whatever is needed to get the job done. They fail to see that while they continue to pay, the system will continue...on and on and on it will go.

For too many Ukrainian people corruption offers and facilitates an 'easy way out' of most situations. Why get complicated when we can just give this man or woman some money and all problems will disappear. Sad situation really.

I am sure that many people have paid bribes on my behalf without my knowledge.
During the past few years I have paid lawyers fees on many occasions which I am sure involved the payment of bribes on my behalf. (obviously this is all prior to the introduction of the recent UK Bribery Act coming into force).

Refusing to pay bribes has only cost me TIME. From the lowly traffic policemen who will keep me waiting for 15-20 minutes and then eventually lets me go, because he realises that I am not going to pay and he is wasting his time. Through to the employee at the National Bank of Ukraine who demanded 2 percent of the transaction value for agreeing to the granting of a license to obtain a loan from a foreign bank. Only to understand that I was NOT going to pay, but it cost me two months in delay and I'm sure complications made because I was not paying any bribes.

You can refuse to pay bribes in Ukraine and you will survive. Things will just take much longer.
The government claim to be doing something:
see: http://www.kyivpost.com/news/opinion/op_ed/detail/103190/

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