Thirty-eight Ukrainian politicians are named in the Pandora Papers, including President Zelenskiy himself. In fact, Ukraine had more politicians pop up in the leak than any other country in the world (Russia took second place with 19).
For many, these revelations are at odds with the anti-corruption platform that brought Zelenskiy and his team power. That said, not all of the financial activities outlined in the Pandora Papers are necessarily illegal. Indeed, the ability to capitalise on legal loopholes is what makes the offshore service industry the booming business it is today.
During a press briefing on October 4, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the Pandora Papers won’t change the dialogue between Washington and strategic partners like Kyiv. At the same time, she stressed that the revelations make the issue of financial transparency “even more important on the international agenda.” And financial transparency will presumably be a key topic of discussion at the EU-Ukraine Summit set to take place in Kyiv on October 12.
Here’s what some of Ukraine’s experts and analysts had to say about what the Pandora Papers revelations mean for Zelenskiy and his team:
- The Anti-Corruption Action Center (AntAC) on Serhiy Shefir: “It is difficult to understand why the number one aide to the president [Serhiy Shefir], who seems to have his office on Bankova [Street] and goes there as if to work, does not submit an electronic declaration of his income and expenses. [...] Shefir is not a civil servant, but he has more influence on decision-making in the state than hundreds of thousands of civil servants who file declarations. We are sure that society has the right to know what wealth and expenses the president’s number one aide has.”
- Policy analyst Viktor Bobyrenko on the fallout for Zelenskiy himself: “Zelenskiy's rating will go down. But not critically. It will not fall below 20%, because Volodymyr Oleksandrovych has already formed a stable electoral core of 15-17%, which will be with him steadfastly for a long time. [...] However, for the opposition this is a chance to level up. Perhaps, to consolidate.”
- Think-tank director Kostiantyn Yelisieiev on the upcoming EU-Ukraine summit: “Sitting in front of the EU leaders in Kyiv will not be the Zelenskiy of 2019, but the Zelenskiy from Pandora’s box. The Bankova’s anti-corruption trump card, seemingly a key virtue of the authorities, is null after the high-profile publication of the Pandora Papers. While other countries announced the start of investigations into the figures in the revelations, the Bankova, through the mouths of pocket agencies and irresponsible speakers, immediately rushed to ‘whitewash’ the offshore schemes of Zelenskiy’s and his team. This approach is at odds with the EU's position.”
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