This article examines the evolution of the state in Ukraine from an object of elite predation in early 1990s into a dominant actor in relations with non-state actors under Kuchma, an instrument of elite struggles for power and rents under Yushchenko and a return to a centralized state authority under Yanukovych. Despite its different transformations the state in Ukraine has been continuously characterized by the prevalence of informal levers of power and the absence of strong formal institutional foundations. As a result, after twenty years it still lacks the prerequisites of effective governance in a modern state – an impersonal bureaucracy, rule of law and mechanisms of accountability. This institutional void produces Ukraine’s vicious cycling between hybrid types of authoritarianism and democracy leaving the state dysfunctional and incomplete.

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