Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Corruption Arrests Rise after Every Change in Government in Post-Soviet States, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 2—Corruption remains “a serious problem” throughout the countries of the post-Soviet space, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say; but the number of charges and arrests for this crime typically rises after a change of government or regime and are directed at those linked with the government or regime that has been displaced.

            Then, after a time, “everything quiets down again” until there is another change at the top of these states, they continue, a pattern that is now on prominent display in Armenia but has occurred in Kyrgystan and other CIS countries as well (ng.ru/editorial/2018-07-02/2_7256_red.html).

            These charges are often entirely just and are welcomed by the populations, the paper says, many of whose members are certain that their rulers are corrupt and that rooting out this scourge is a first-order task of any new government. Indeed, for many of them, such corruption was a major cause for overturning the regime or voting out the government in the first place.

            But in welcoming this cleansing, the editors do not note three potential downsides to using corruption charges as political tools. First of all, if incumbents know that they are likely to be charged with corruption when their government falls, they will struggle even harder to retain their positions, making the normal circulation of elites far more difficult.

            Second, if the new rulers oust one set of corrupt officials but do not take other steps, there is every chance that among at least some of them there will arise new corrupt figures, thus pushing these countries into a vicious cycle in which one set of corrupt figures is replaced by another to the increasing cynicism of the population.

            And third, such charges have the effect of criminalizing politics because they suggest that the only reason for ousting a regime or government is its crimes rather than its politics and that the fight over the direction of the country is going is less significant than the imposition of criminal penalties that permanently keep some people out of politics in the future.

            Obviously, corruption should be rooted out; but this process should be integral to the political system at all times rather than being used strictly as a political tool, however welcome the exposure and punishment of the corrupt may be. Otherwise, governments that use it in that way may get a short term boost but suffer far greater if longer term problems.

No comments:

Post a Comment