Several senior Ukrainian officials have resigned or been fired by President Volodymyr Zelensky amid a growing corruption scandal linked to the procurement of war supplies, in the biggest change of government since the start of the Russian invasion.
During his evening speech on Monday night (23), Zelensky announced that he was banning government officials from traveling abroad for any reason other than official business, and said he would be making “personnel changes” in the coming days.
The announcement comes after the arrest on Sunday (22) of Vasyl Lozynskyy, the acting minister of regional development. Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau accused Lozynskyy of taking $400,000 in “illegal benefits” to facilitate contracts, including for power generators – a sensitive issue in a country struggling to cope with freezing temperatures and frequent power cuts caused by by Russians to its infrastructure.
Lozynsky has not commented on the allegations.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau also said it was investigating “high-level media reports” about allegations that Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense was buying military supplies, including food for troops, at inflated prices.
The full extent of the Zelensky quake began to emerge on Tuesday.
Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, announced his resignation on his Telegram account on Tuesday morning after Ukrainian media reported that he was using a vehicle intended for humanitarian purposes and evacuations for business trips – allegations that the CNN can not check.
Without giving any reason for his decision, Tymoshenko shared a photo of his resignation letter, dated Monday, and said: “I would like to ask that I be dismissed from the post of Deputy Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine at my own request. .”
In a statement addressing the allegations, Tymoshenko said the car – a Chevrolet Tahoe – was used for official purposes and that he never hid the fact that he was using it.
“Over the past few months, I have driven this car for about 40 thousand kilometers on business trips across Ukraine. I will not use this car in the future,” he said, adding that the vehicle will be transferred to “one of the frontline regions, where it will be used for humanitarian purposes” in the coming days.
Within hours of Tymoschenko’s announcement, many others followed in his footsteps.
Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Defense Viacheslav Shapovalov, Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksii Symonenko, Deputy Ministers of Regional Development Ivan Lukerya and Viacheslav Nehoda, and Deputy Minister of Social Policy Vitalii Muzychenko were all asked to resign, as were various regional authorities.
A statement posted on the Defense Ministry website said Shapovalov, who was “responsible for the logistics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, had tendered his resignation after a “campaign of accusations” that the ministry said was “groundless and baseless”.
The ministry posted Shapovalov’s resignation letter online. “Due to the great public outcry, largely caused by baseless manipulations around the issue of supplying the Armed Forces of Ukraine, there are risks of destabilizing the army’s supply processes,” the letter said.
“This is unacceptable during the war with Russia. In this situation, the priority is to ensure the stable work of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and create conditions for transparent and impartial inspections by law enforcement authorities and other authorized bodies.”
Lukerya said on Tuesday that he made the decision to step down earlier this year, “but unfortunately, due to political and bureaucratic circumstances, the legal formalization coincided with this week.”
According to a 2021 report by Transparency International, Ukraine is the second most corrupt country in Europe after Russia. Globally, it ranked 122nd out of 180 countries.
Zelensky’s pledge to rid the government of corruption was one of the reasons behind his rapid rise to power in 2019.
A former comedian who played Ukraine’s president on a hit TV show, Zelensky had no political experience at the time of his election – but he managed to tap into the country’s deep-rooted disappointment and disgust with rampant corruption.
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter on Tuesday that changes within the government showed Zelensky was committed to fighting corruption.
“Zelensky’s personnel decisions testify to the state’s top priorities… No ‘blind eyes,’” he wrote. “During war, everyone must understand their responsibility. The President sees and hears society. And it responds directly to a fundamental public demand – justice for all.”
But Transparency International said there was still a lot of work to be done. While praising some of the measures Zelensky’s government has taken in recent years, he said last year that Ukraine’s fight against corruption had stalled and was at “an impasse”.
(Kostan Nechyporenko reported from Kiev; Ivana Kottasová wrote from London; Irene Nasser and Tim Lister contributed reporting)
Source: CNN Brasil
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