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Two Faces of Crime in Post-Soviet Ukraine

NCJ Number
Peter H. Solomon Jr.; Todd S. Foglesong
Date Published
5 pages
This article describes the rise in crime in Post-Soviet Ukraine.
Post-Soviet Ukraine has experienced a dramatic rise in crime and has taken on two distinct dimensions. The first dimension is the sharp rise in ordinary property crime while the second dimension is the growth of criminal business activity, particularly organized crime activities and government corruption. Crime rates in the Ukraine began rising in the late 1970s due to the impact of the weakening of various crime–suppressing mechanisms and the growth of the shadow economy, which produced and distributed large quantities of consumer goods outside the purview of the law. The collapse of the official Soviet economy in 1989-1990 resulted in widespread impoverishment and a further weakening of the state, so much so that the state no longer performed basic functions, such as protection. The widespread impoverishment and weakened government system opened the way for a proliferation in property crimes, such as theft, robbery, and extortion, and economic crimes, such as bribe taking, counterfeiting, and narcotics trading. The authors note that any attempt to decrease crime rates in the Ukraine will depend on larger societal changes, including economic and political changes. The criminalization of business in Ukraine is also discussed. This business criminalization emerged as an effort to avoid the excessive taxes by the state, which was in such a weakened position anyway that it lacked the capacity to investigate and enforce tax laws. Indeed, much of the business transactions in the Ukraine following the 1989-1990 economic collapse occurred outside the law. Moreover, the authors point out that the government’s focus on destroying organized crime groups, which typically consisted of little more than two or three people, did nothing to impact the amount of criminal activity in the country.