- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ukraine’s Orange Revolution changed a lot more than just the country’s political leadership.

“We have a new social morality, a new ethics, a new attitude toward the way business policy should be conducted,” Sergey Teryokhin, Ukraine’s new economics minister, said in an interview.

“When we came to office, we discovered that all public life in Ukraine had been corrupted. The very first thing we felt we had to do was change the country’s mentality,” Mr. Teryokhin told The Washington Times during a Washington visit last week.

The popular revolt that swept the new pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko to power in December has sent popular expectations soaring back home, Mr. Teryokhin said, posing problems for the new government.

“Ukrainians are a very patient people, but we are still dealing with a bureaucracy and a parliament that are very much a creation of the previous regime,” he said. “The majority of our parliament did not support many of the reforms we want to see, and we very much hope President Yushchenko can have some successes to build on for the next elections in April 2006.”

Corruption was so entrenched under former President Leonid Kuchma, Mr. Teryokhin said, that even basic economic data and statistics compiled by his department were changed for political purposes.

“It was absolutely stupid,” he said.

The Bush administration, which strongly supported the Orange Revolution, has moved to bolster economic ties to Ukraine and is backing its bid to join the World Trade Organization by the end of the year. The Commerce Department is close to a decision to declare Ukraine a full-fledged market economy, easing trade and investment restrictions.

Mr. Yushchenko, in his address last week to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, appealed for the lifting of sanctions tied to the Cold War-era Jackson-Vanik amendment, They originally were imposed to protest Soviet Union policies regarding the emigration of Jews. The administration backs the repeal, but the effort has stalled repeatedly in Congress.

Ukraine also hopes to apply for funding from the new Millennium Challenge Corp., set up by Mr. Bush to reward developing countries that institute pro-market, anti-corruption policies.

Mr. Teryokhin noted that Ukraine’s parliament earlier this month finally passed a bill targeting CD piracy, a top priority of the U.S. government.

“It was one of our most sensitive issues, because Ukraine was always ranked with China and Russia as one of the world’s worst centers for intellectual property theft,” he said.

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