Supreme Court Head in Ukraine Arrested for Corruption

Supreme Court Head in Ukraine Arrested for Corruption

( – The head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court has been arrested on bribery charges. Corruption investigators say they’ve uncovered a scandal involving Chief Justice Vsevolod Kniaziev and other judges. It seems Kyiv still hasn’t brought the country’s post-Soviet corruption under control.

On May 15, investigators from Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) announced they’d found “large-scale corruption” inside the Supreme Court. Agents said they had uncovered a scheme where the country’s top judges accepted bribes. The next day, Chief Justice Kniaziev was arrested; NABU said he had accepted a $3-million bribe from a financial company, and added a photo of cash and a cell phone laid out on a couch. Kniaziev has now been detained for 60 days while authorities carry out an investigation. On May 16, an emergency meeting of judges passed a vote of no confidence in him and fired him from the Supreme Court. He is the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to ever be arrested for bribery.

So far, there have been no more reports of Supreme Court judges arrested, but the statements from NABU suggest Kniaziev isn’t the only one who’s been taking bribes. Ukraine has been struggling to overcome corruption, which infests its government and state agencies. The country is currently ranked 116th out of 180 on Transparency International’s corruption index, alongside countries like the Philippines and Zambia. The USA is ranked 24th, and Russia 137th.

The good news is that Ukraine does seem to be improving. Its CPI score, awarded by Transparency International to show how corrupt a country is, had risen steadily from 25 in 2013 — just one point higher than the US — to 33 in 2020. Last year it was still 33, so while corruption isn’t improving, it seems to have stopped getting worse. The problem is, with billions of dollars of international funding and an army’s worth of weapons flowing into Ukraine, that isn’t good enough. NABU needs to clean up the country’s government, and it needs to do it fast.

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