Critics question 23-year-old graduate’s appointment as head of Ukraine’s anti-corruption office

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Officials in Ukraine have been roundly criticised for appointing a 23-year-old lawyer to head up the county’s efforts to weed out institutionalised corruption.

Anna Kalynchuk, who was given the high-profile role by Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko “on merit”, has only just left university, prompting many Ukrainians to question whether she is up to the job. Critics have suggested that Kalynchuk is too young and not suitably qualified to lead Ukraine’s department of “lustration”, which is charged with identifying officials linked with corruption.

The “lustration” purge of crooked politicians and senior public sector figures was one of the demands of across the country in 2014, staging protests that resulted in then-president Viktor Yanukovych being forced to flee to Russia with the help of Vladimir Putin.

Kalynchuk was unveiled as head of the anti-corruption unit just days after Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov named a 24-year old woman who had posted explicit images of herself online as his deputy.

Responding to the two controversial appointments, political analyst Vadim Karasyov told the Associated Press: “Ukrainian politics looks increasingly like a circus show in which clowns come to succeed frustrated professionals. The resignations of top professionals and new scandalous appointments send a bad message both to society and western partners who expect from Ukraine quite a different outcome of the reforms.”

The negative reaction to Kalynchuk’s appointment came as to scrutinise Ukraine’s efforts to clampdown on corruption. Since the 2014 uprising, EU officials have been attempting to push the country to do more to tackle dishonest dealing, with critics raising concerns that President Petro Poroshenko has been blocking progress by colluding with some of those accused of wrongdoing.

Earlier this month, Transparency International (TI) said Ukraine is one of the most corrupt nations in Europe and Central Asia, along with the likes of Serbia, Moldova and Lithuania. A report from the NGO found that the Ukrainian government was the least active among all of those surveyed when it came to fighting corruption. Eighty-six percent of Ukrainians polled told (TI) that their leaders were failing to clampdown on corruption, while 64% said they thought members of their parliament were on the take.

“Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine are the worst performing countries in Europe and Central Asia, according to their own citizens,” .

“They received bad ratings across all the key corruption questions, suggesting real and serious corruption challenges in these countries, which urgently need to be addressed. These countries are marked by high perceptions of corruption among members of parliament, high bribery rates and a negative social environment for engaging in anti-corruption actions.”