In Russian, there is a good, very relevant to the current situation in the country saying that goes something like this: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. No matter how trite it may sound, it's true.
Let's see how this concerns Ukrainian realities. For fuller explanation it’s necessary to take a few steps (years) back. Every revolution starts up a public life from scratch: its, so to say, task and goal are to change the current situation and start over, set a new reference time in both the formal and substantive sense (not in vain all revolutionaries decisively broke with all the evil past, changing even the calendar and chronology).
So a couple of years ago, the country finally got rid of the hated corrupt officials. Hence, as the revolutionary tradition establishes, it began to live in a new way. We carried out successful lustration, started uncompromising de-communization, so if it came to break with the past, we did it completely and irrevocably, that there wouldn’t be even the possibility of returning to past illnesses and sins. And the international community, of course, world-widely welcomed and fully supported: fair rules, responsible decision-makers, absence of corruption – a new country.
However, as the Ukrainian proverbial wisdom goes, we wished our best, you know the rest. We kind of spent lustration, and adopted the right laws and the country is now run by the European-style politics only, even the absent coalition in the parliament is called “European”, but the problem is the same – corruption. Only the names have changed. Such an anecdote is popular in the midst of the European political establishment.
Two European politicians meet.
One politician says to another, “I have good news and bad news about Ukraine. Which one should I begin with?”
The second politician answers, “Go with the bad news first”.
The first politician says, “The population of Ukraine has become poorer this year.”
The second politician asks, “How about the good news?”
The first politician answers, “Meanwhile, at least one person, the President of Ukraine, has become richer!”
This anecdote would have remained a harmless joke, but for the far-reaching consequences. The image of Ukraine is created in the international arena through the prism of all these corruption scandals, and the people involved represent our country in it. The European (and not only) community, which believed not so long time ago in new Ukraine that got rid of the preceding alleged corrupt officials by such efforts, has faced the situations often much more flagrant than in the past, and the faith that some changes have really happened is rapidly “melting”. But the confidence is growing that all the Ukrainians are such people. Everything seems to be clear with predecessors; the world community expressed its position, imposed sanctions, turned the page, and started everything, as it should be after the revolution, with a clean slate. Just the written essay appeared to have the same errors. And, as known, there won’t be a second chance to make a first impression, and the first one turned out to be so very unflattering.
Therefore, all participants of these corruption scandals are criminals not only because they violate the laws of Ukraine, but because they steal much more important things. They steal the future of our country! If the European political circles, being on the bit of the revolutionary reasonability of the Ukrainian government, considered all previous power as corrupt officials and criminals (as a result they are now losing case after case in the European courts) a priori, and provided the new government with an unprecedented credibility, all the corruption scandals of recent months will lead to the fact that there may not be a second chance to make at least some impression. Almost no one believes in transparency and fairness of the Ukrainian authorities today. And this raises the question: why shouldn’t the Europeans extrapolate this experience to all future governments, if our powers are not able to discontinue the use of their powerful position to enrich themselves even in such a difficult situation (economic, political, military)?
Thus, they steal not goods – they steal our future, creating the image of the Ukrainians as total kleptomaniacs. Today they are the personification of the whole country, but do all Ukrainians want to be associated with such principles and people?!