Spoiler: Corruption is cancer. It incurs welfare losses by distorting households’ and firms’ consumption and investment decisions. It increases inequality and environmental damages. It reduces trust between people and between people and public authorities.
It is lower in democracies with a free press and an independent judiciary. It is and was higher in autocratic countries. It is lower in market economies. Socialist countries are and were also autocratic, and corruption is and was pervasive in these countries. Corruption is weaker in former socialist countries that have become more democratic.
EU makes a difference. Corruption is higher in non-EU former Soviet republics and East-European countries. But once inside EU, Member States can again turn autocratic and become more corrupt.
Spoiler: The Kremlin lies again. We ought to be used to it by now since Kremlin has been vomiting lies especially about its war crimes in Syria and Ukraine. But the Kremlin has taken its lies to a new level recently. This year it is 75 years ago since the WWII ended. In Soviet and Russia, it has been commemorated as the Great Patriotic War which means that they prefer to forget Stalin’s alliance with Hitler which started the war.
The existence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocol was acknowledged by the Soviet Union during the Perestroika. However, Putin seems to regret this. Not just regret it but unbelievable enough even blame Poland for being attacked by the Nazis and Soviet Union.
Spoilers. In Poland, reforms of the economy were made even during Communist rule. Following the end of Communist rule, ambitions to join the EU and support from the EU and IMF gave further impetus to reform. As one of the earlier reformers, Poland has turned into a growth engine. Not being part of the Soviet Union was a bliss for Poland but being a Soviet republic turned out to be a curse for Ukraine. No reforms were made by its post-Soviet leadership during its first three years of independence.
Opaque liberalisations and privatisations that followed enriched former “Red directors”. During this time the oligarchs emerged. They have since not only dominated large sectors of the Ukrainian economy but also the political arenas. From then on, Ukraine’s people have been robbed and deprived of reasonable standards of living. While the influence from external factors, especially the EU, was beneficial for Poland, Russian influence and armed interventions have prevented Ukraine from growing.