I Was Exiled From a Corrupt Country. Now I'm Running for President So I Can Fire 20,000 Bureaucrats

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When I ran away from death threats and political persecution in Ukraine in 2016, I learned that most of the Western world knows a lot about the world but still very little about Ukraine.

We gained our independence in 1991, but 26 years and two revolutions later the country is still owned by a group of corrupt government officials and a powerful agency called The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), which was created under a false anti-corruption flag.

So why does this matter to the United States and its allies? First, because of our location, we are of strategic interest to the West. Second, and perhaps most timely for the United States, we are a case study for how funds loaned to foreign governments can feed the corruption machine.

When I read that Ukraine leadership potentially interfered in your election and tried to undermine key people in Trump’s election campaign, it looked all too familiar to me. In fact, in that moment, the only difference I could distinguish between the environment in my country and yours was size, language and power.

You see, this is what this country's current administration, with its NABU, does. In my experience, they intimidate, they hack and they perpetuate instability to prolong their power and strengthen their positions. And they do it sequentially.

My own email account and cellular phone have been penetrated multiple times.

I picked up a gas company in Ukraine which nobody wanted to touch in 2010. It was a few abandoned gas wells and a few tons of rusty metal. In 2016, NABU arrested my company’s senior management — 10 people (some of these people were even not a part of my company).

They charged me and that group of innocent, hard-working and talented people. One of my charges is based on a text message between my former lawyer and someone I don't know. Obviously, this approach wouldn't work for them in the U.S. because America's judicial branch does not control the judges, courts or law enforcement, but in my country it’s a different story.

These are dangerous times for freedom and opposite views in my country.

And I'm not alone. By now, all successful businessmen who used to support the opposition or had their own political inspiration have either been charged with fictional crimes or had to become unwilling supporters of the Poroshenko regime.

Former Prime Minister and political prisoner Yulia Timoshenko is working under direct threat of imprisonment on made up fictional charges. The former governor of the Odessa region, Mikheil Saakashvili, had his citizenship revoked while out of the country. How does NABU, which is supposed to fight corruption, turn a blind eye to the bribes and massive corruption eating our political system?

Now, in light of the accusations that Ukraine meddled with the U.S. election to stay in power, the commission investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election must also look at the alleged role of President Poroshenko and NABU.

I decided to run for President of Ukraine for two simple reasons. The current president had lost trust of most of the citizens. In fact, more than half of Ukrainians live in poverty, and not even 2% say they trust President Poroshenko. My second reason is that I am convinced that the early presidential and parliamentary election will help to stop the purge of the opposition and its supporters.

My dream is to win this election, get rid of the institution of the president’s office, fire 20, 000 bureaucrats and 24 Governors, and step down the following day. The people of Ukraine should create a referendum as to how they plan to take the country forward.

Ukraine, by now, should have been an engine of economic recovery and growth in Europe with its skilled labor forces, brilliant scientific minds, and potentially one of the best agricultural investment markets worldwide.

We need the help of our friends and partners to stop this conflicted and corrupted regime, before it gets even worse.

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