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HomeNationalUkraine fires key officials in anti-bribery purge MIGMG News

Ukraine fires key officials in anti-bribery purge MIGMG News

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Kyiv on Tuesday announced the dismissal of a dozen top officials in the biggest political shake-up since the country’s first major corruption scandal linked to the Russian invasion.

Ukraine has long suffered from endemic corruption, but government efforts to stamp out bribery have been overshadowed by Moscow’s nearly year-long all-out war.

Western allies, which have provided billions of dollars in financial and military aid to Kyiv to resist Russian troops, have often made such support conditional on anti-corruption reforms.

Presidential aide Mihajlo Podoljak said President Volodymyr Zelenskiy focused on “key priorities of the state” in dismissing officials, including governors of hard-fought regions and deputy cabinet ministers.

“During war, everyone should understand their responsibility,” Podoljak wrote on Twitter.

“The president sees and listens to society.

The change came after Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Communities and Territories Development, Vasyl Lozinsky, was replaced at the weekend following his arrest on suspicion of embezzlement.

Photos released by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau showed seized cash in Lozinski’s office.

The 36-year-old was accused of taking $400,000 in bribes to “facilitate” the purchase of generators at inflated prices as Ukraine struggles with power shortages following Russian strikes on the power grid.

‘Good Deeds’

On Tuesday, key presidential aide Kyrylo Tymoshenko, who has worked with Zelensky since his election in 2019, announced his resignation.

The 33-year-old posted a picture of himself holding a handwritten resignation letter, thanking the president for “the opportunity to do good deeds every day and every minute.”

Tymoshenko has been embroiled in several scandals, including the alleged personal use last October of an SUV donated to Ukraine for humanitarian purposes.

Oleg Nemchinov, a senior government official, also announced the departure of five regional governors and four deputy ministers.

They include the heads of the central Dnipropetrovsk region, the northeastern Sumy region, the southern Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, as well as the region around the capital Kyiv.

Nemchinov additionally announced the dismissal of two deputy ministers for the development of communities and territories and one deputy minister for social policy.

The Defense Ministry separately announced the resignation of Deputy Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who oversaw the army’s logistical support.

It came after the ministry was accused of signing food contracts at prices two to three times higher than the current rates for basic food items.

Vacation in Spain

The ministry insisted the accusations were “baseless and unfounded” but said Shapovalov’s departure “will preserve the trust of society and international partners”.

Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Simonenko also resigned, following media reports that he vacationed in Spain, allegedly using a Ukrainian businessman’s car.

In his evening address on Monday, Zelensky announced the following “personnel decisions” and said he was banning officials from traveling abroad unless it was work-related.

“If they want to rest now, they will rest outside the civil service,” Zelensky said.

Despite being vocal about the fight against corruption, Zelensky himself has been involved in corruption scandals in the past.

In 2021, the so-called Pandora Papers, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, said Zelensky used a network of offshore companies to buy three luxury properties in London.

His office said at the time that Zelensky, who is a former actor and comedian, created the offshore companies to protect himself from the “aggressive actions” of the “corrupt” regime of then pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Transparency International ranked Ukraine 122 out of 180 in its 2021 corruption ranking.

According to the Center for Economic Strategy, a Ukrainian think tank, the total amount of Western military and financial support for Kyiv could reach $100 billion this year, including more than $40 billion for its armed forces.

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