Corruption in Ukraine remains endemic: in its 2021 report, the NGO Transparency International ranks it 122nd out of 180. This is better than in 2014 (142nd), but still very far behind its EU neighbors (the worst placed, Bulgaria, is in 78th place). This phenomenon is not new in the country, where the fight against elite corruption was one of the major demands of the Maidan uprising in 2013-2014. The latter led to the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych and paved the way for Petro Poroshenko.
Under pressure from Westerners, the latter had initiated an anti-corruption High Court. It will be inaugurated in 2019 by Volodymyr Zelensky, who had campaigned by promising to eradicate these practices. Problem: the following year, the Constitutional Court had invalidated measures in force for several years, judging them too severe. At the time, the head of Ukrainian diplomacy Dmytro Kouleba had deplored a “severe blow” for relations between kyiv and the West. Notably because the EU has made anti-corruption measures a key reform that must be implemented by kyiv if it wishes to gain candidate status for membership of the European bloc. “We won’t have any money” international donors, “no support” Western, had added Volodymyr Zelensky. A fear still relevant, three years later.