Analytical article

The Political Consequences of Public Relations Miscalculations: Will Ukraine’s Anti-corruption Bureau be Terminated?

Year:

2021

Published in:

Ponars Eurasia

Authors:

National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine
NABU
anti-corruption
good governance
post-Communist Eurasia
OECD

The National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine, commonly known as NABU, offers an instructive case on good governance agencies’ challenges in post-Communist Eurasia. The frontline anti-corruption organization in Ukraine was established in 2015. Endorsed by the OECD and the U.S. government and praised by the European Parliament as “the country’s most effective anti-corruption institution,” NABU is the poster-boy for anti-corruption. It investigates top cases like smuggling at the Odessa customs office, embezzling during the liquidation of VAB-bank, and illegal lucrative amber extraction by officials. NABU has a lavish booklet and claims to have saved up to $55 million of taxpayers’ money in 2020 alone. More importantly, it is politically independent, thus investigating and prosecuting people regardless of connections. Nevertheless, NABU has two significant weaknesses. First, the public generally distrusts it, which has larger political repercussions than mismanaged public relations should. Second, the Zelensky administration is eager to take NABU under control. The constitutional crisis of 2020 might have provided him with a perfect rationale to consummate the deal. With over thirty proposed amendments to NABU in the legislature, its independence is in jeopardy.

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