Ukraine’s top leaders watched as the capital’s new traffic police force underwent its passing out ceremony in Kyiv on Saturday.
Until now the police has been seen as one of the most corrupt institutions. So officials hope the roughly 2,000 new recruits will help stamp out graft and improve the force’s image.
As well as training by instructors from the US, Canada and Japan, police officers will be paid more than their predecessors.
Ekaterine “Eka” Zguladze, Ukraine’s deputy first minister of internal affairs told euronews: “The salary of a new recruit starts at 8 thousand grivnas (342 euros). It’s not millions, but it’s something on which you can live and sustain your family. We hope that there will be very few incidents of corruption. What is corruption? It’s a crime, simple, full-stop.”
Around 1 in 5 of the new officers are women. On Saturday, the recruits swore oaths to enforce the law and to resist taking bribes.
Many of those helping to implement the new police force worked on a similar project in Georgia.
One officer Oleksiy Ziber told euronews: “In Georgia, police salaries increased 15 times during the reforms. I hope the same thing will happen in Ukraine. But today it’s very important to change what’s happening in the country, so that people and the police will be friends and work together.”
But the change has led to disbanding of the existing force left over from Soviet times, meaning unemployment for thousands of old guard officers.
Dmytro Polonsky, euronews’ correspondent in the Ukranian capital told us: “From tonight, 2000 new officers will be patrolling the streets of Kyiv. By the end of the year, the new force should have been rolled out to five regions of Ukraine. If they get enough funding, the reforms will be complete by the end of 2016.”