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Poroshenko in anti-corruption drive ahead of general election

AFP

Ukrainians go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new parliament in its first general election since the "Euromaidan" protests ousted pro-Kremlin former president Victor Yanukovich in February.

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has made an anti-corruption drive a cornerstone of the campaign for his Petro Poroshenko Bloc ahead of the legislative ballot. 

At a meeting in Odessa, the country's most important port, Poroshenko gave high-ranking law enforcement officials a dressing down. Corruption is "paralysing" Ukraine's economy, he said Thursday on a pre-election visit to the industrial harbour port.

"If you're looking for where to find violations of the customs laws – Mr policeman, Mr customs officer, Mr prosecutor, Mr head of the SBU (security agency) – then do what I did this morning," he said, recounting that his aides had visited a major market in the region and found that "not one" cargo of the goods for sale had been properly cleared through customs.

Poroshenko went on to say that "the problem of contraband, the problem of corruption" was "paralysing the economy of Ukraine".

Earlier this month, parliament passed sweeping anti-corruption laws that Poroshenko has said he hopes will help Ukraine reduce the sykrocketing levels of bribery, kickbacks, smuggling and other crimes that flourished under his predecessor Yanukovich.

The importance of strengthening the rule of law in Ukraine is seen as key if the ex-Soviet republic is ever going to achieve its dream of closer integration with Western institutions and, eventually, EU membership.

After his angry appearance at the meeting with law enforcement officials in the Black Sea port city, Poroshenko told journalists he was still hopeful Ukraine could prevent the conflict in the east turning into the kind of permanent stalemate that has hamstrung other countries, like Georgia, with pro-Russian rebellions.

"This will not be a frozen conflict, because the Donbass cannot survive without Ukraine," Poroshenko said, using a term that refers to the eastern industrial region that encompasses the rebel-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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