This panel discussion, based on the Legatum Institute's recent papers on Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, was hosted by the Brussels-based European Endowment for Democracy.

The Legatum Institute’s Anne Applebaum (Director of the Transitions Forum) and Peter Pomerantsev (Senior Fellow), along with fellow journalist Oliver Bullough discussed how current challenges related to corruption and how outside actors—from Russia to the European Union—are influencing the reform process in each country. The European Endowment for Democracy's President, Jerzy Pomianowski, gave introductory remarks.

Bullough shared his insights on how corruption in Ukraine was systemized under former President Viktor Yanukovych. He also described Russia's role: "Russia does not want Ukraine to enforce anti-corruption laws, otherwise Russian companies would lose out to European and American competitors."

According to Pomerantsev, Georgia’s experience—both the positives and the negatives—could hold lessons for Ukraine’s new government. Georgia initially focused on one element of corruption to serve as an example. The country’s campaign to reform the corrupt police aimed  to “transform [civil servants], in the popular imagination, from parasites to public servants.” 

While the crackdown on corruption will largely rely on internal policies, the panel also discussed the important role of the West in reviewing their own transparency and accountability policies that facilitate corruption, particularly with regard to the flow of illicit funds, offshore havens and the role of lobbyists and special interest groups.


About the Speakers

Oliver Bullough is an award-winning journalist and author. He has written for newspapers and magazines in Britain and America, including The Guardian, New York Times and New Republic, and previously served as a Reuters Moscow correspondent. His most recent book, The Last Man in Russia and the Struggle to Save a Dying Nation, is published by Penguin. His report Looting Ukraine: How East and West Teamed up to Steal a Country is published jointly by the Legatum Institute and the Institute of Modern Russia.

Peter Pomerantsev is a Senior Fellow to the Legatum Institute’s Transitions Forum. He is also an author and documentary producer. His writing features regularly in the London Review of Books, Atlantic, Financial Times, Foreign Policy and elsewhere, focusing largely though not exclusively, on 21st century propaganda. Previously, Pomerantsev worked as a consultant on EU and World Bank development projects in the former USSR. His book about working as a TV producer in Putin's Russia, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, is published by Faber in 2015.

Anne Applebaum leads the Legatum Institute’s Transitions Forum. She is also a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Her most recent book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1946, won the 2013 Cundill Prize for Historical Literature and was nominated for a national book award in the US.

About the European Endowment for Democracy

The European Endowment for Democracy (EED) is a new independent grant giving institution that supports local actors of democratic change in the EU Neighbourhood.

Further Reading

  • Revolutionary Tactics: Insights from Police and Justice Reform in Georgia, by Peter Pomerantsev, June 2014 - View
  • Moldova: The Failing Champion of European Integration, by Vladimir Soloviev, July 2014- View
  • Looting Ukraine: the East, the West, and the Corruption of a Country, by Oliver Bullough, July 2014 - View

The Legatum Institute's Transitions Forum, a series of projects dedicated to the economics and politics of radical political change.