Ukraine’s far-reaching move on 6 November to nationalize five strategic enterprises rectifies the errors of the 1990s when the early oligarchs privatized large Soviet enterprises without due process, thereby enriching a few later known as oligarchs. It is both a decisive and symbolic blow to Ukraine’s oligarchy, effectively reducing its political influence. Despite the move receiving little attention during the war, this would not have been possible without preceding work and reforms.
In Ukraine, reforms initiated in 2014 reduced the space for oligarchic schemes while strengthening state institutions. In 2016, the nationalization of the state’s largest bank, Privatbank, from the country’s notorious oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskyi became the first instance of severe punishment for money laundering. Since the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) in 2015 and the High Anti-Corruption Court in 2019, punishment for large-scale corruption has become systemic.