Ukraine loses more than $11 billion every year in illicit financial outflows. These outflows stem from tax evasion, crime, corruption and other illegal activities. That’s a lot money, and it’s why Yuriy Kardashevkiy and Artem Nikitin work with others across Ukraine’s government to stop this drain on the country’s resources.

Kardashevkiy works in Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), where he heads a team of detectives who collect data that may help identify corruption among government officials. They pay particular attention to signs an official is receiving excessive benefits or enriching him or herself illegally. Launched in October 2014, NABU is working to bring Ukraine’s economy out of the shadows.

Ukraine’s prosecution system has also gotten an overhaul. Nikitin, who works in the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office, said that prosecutors who worked under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been replaced by new prosecutors, all of whom undergo a transparent and competitive testing process.

Nikitin himself is a product of the new testing process. He graduated in 2014 with a master’s degree in law and worked as a prosecutor in Dnipropetrovsk in southeast Ukraine. Part of his job now is making sure requests for legal assistance from Ukrainian investigators and foreign prosecutors comply with both Ukrainian law and international treaties.

More work ahead

Female Ukrainian police officers patrolling Kyiv's main street (© AP Images)
Ukraine’s civil society has been teaching the new patrol police how to interact peacefully with citizens. (© AP Images)

Kardashevkiy and Nikitin agree there is much more work ahead in fighting fiscal crimes in Ukraine. The country has passed some of the strictest anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering laws in Europe, but now needs to move beyond laws on paper and “finally start to apply these laws,” Kardashevkiy said.

Both men believe civil society plays an important role in fighting fiscal crimes. Civil activists “possess so much information, so much experience … that Ukrainian law enforcement bodies do not possess,” Kardashevkiy said. Since the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, Ukraine’s civil society has been cooperating with law enforcement authorities, for example, to teach the country’s new patrol police how to interact peacefully with citizens.

Despite the challenges, Kardashevkiy hopes his government continues implementing the recommendations of its international partners. “The struggle is real, and we hope that it will be effective,” he said.

Follow the conversation on Ukraine @UnitedforUkr and sign up for weekly updates on United for Ukraine.