Political Economy of Independent Ukraine: Late Starts, False Starts-and Last Chance?

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Friday, May 5th, 2017

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Ukraine continues to be in the news since Independence with its early economic disappointments, its two people – revolutions, and of course the military aggression by Russia. This book has two main objectives. First, it describes the process of economic reforms and performance since independence. Second, it proposes several hypotheses as to why market reforms have been so slow and incomplete, and economic performance has lagged far behind that of the Central European countries. In doing so it puts forth a number of revisionist theories. The main economic difficulties were not, as many leaders argued, Ukraine’s unique impedimenta, but the decision at the very beginning to delay reforms. Oligarch development resulted from this late start, and is therefore not attributable to the Kuchma period alone as many analysts write, but started with the Kravchuk regime. One piece of evidence for that is that most of todays’ oligarchs started their business before 1994. Furthemore, delayed reforms allowed Russia to use it leverage over energy supplies to Ukraine’s detriment-but not coincidentally for the benefit of many early oligarchs. Finally, despite the incomplete reforms, standards of living of Ukrainians is not lower than they were in the Soviet period –that is simply a myth due to improper use of standard GDP statistics.

Oleh Havrylyshyn is an economist with a diverse career including academia, Government as Deputy Minister of Finance of Ukraine, a senior official at the Board of Directors and management of the IMF. His numerous writings on transition have been widely cited. In 2014-2016, he was an advisor to senior officials of the Ukrainian Government.


Olga Kesarchuk


Oleh Havrylyshyn
Adjunct Professor of Economics, George Washington University; member of the Economic Advisory Council to Ukraine’s Minister of Economics and the Presidential Administration

Lucan Way
Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto; Petro Jacyk Program's Co-Director

Main Sponsor

Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine


Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies


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