12:19 May. 17, 2016
One of Ukraine's most groundbreaking reforms is not as successful as it seems
The launch of Ukraine's new police patrol force last year sparked an internet craze of citizens posting selfies with newly recruited officers.
Their popularity stemmed not from their uniforms, body cameras and tablets, but the fact they did not demand bribes.
The most visibly successful reform to have emerged from the pro-European Maidan protests in 2014 is now under threat, serving and former law enforcement officials say, accusing vested interests of seeking to obstruct and discredit the force.
Vladyslav Vlasiuk, a lawyer by training who rose through patrol police ranks to become Chief of Staff of the National Police, quit in March, "exhausted" by the pushback against change, he told Reuters in his first media interview since.
The experience he described shows how fragile Ukraine's progress in transforming itself into a Western-facing free market democracy could prove to be.
The police reform, possibly for the first time in the former Soviet republic's history, "showed international partners that we in Ukraine are actually able to carry out some reforms," Vlasiuk said.
Before Maidan, police "would always do what the prosecutors say. Then it changed," he said. "The National Police positioned itself as a separate and equal law enforcement power. Prosecutors did not like it."
"We are seeing the prosecution service chasing patrol officers for wrongdoings. There is now a tension which is blocking the reform of the national police."