Kyiv on Tuesday announced the dismissal of more than a dozen senior officials in the biggest political turmoil following the country’s first major corruption scandal linked to the Russian aggression.
Ukraine has long been plagued by endemic corruption, but Moscow’s nearly year-long all-out war has overshadowed the government’s efforts to stamp out corruption.
Western allies have allocated billions of dollars in financial and military aid to Kyiv to counter the Russian military, often premised on its support for anti-corruption reforms.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Tuesday evening speech that decontamination was necessary and additional measures would be taken.
“It’s fair, it’s necessary for our defense, and it helps us reconcile with European institutions,” he said. “We need a strong state, and Ukraine is just that.”
Presidential Adviser Mikhail Podoljak said Zelensky had focused on “key national priorities” and dismissed officials, including regional governors and deputy ministers, who had seen heavy fighting.
“During war, everyone should understand their responsibility,” Podoljak tweeted.
Pandemonium ensued after the dismissal over the weekend of Ukraine’s Deputy Minister Vasil Rozinsky, who was arrested on charges of embezzlement.
Photos released by the National Anti-Corruption Service showed a cache of cash seized in Rosinski’s office.
A 36-year-old woman has been accused of taking a $400,000 bribe to ‘facilitate’ the purchase of a generator as Ukraine suffers power shortages following a strike by Russia on its power grid. .
On Tuesday, Presidential Advisor Kierilo Tymoshenko, who had worked with Zelensky since the 2019 elections, announced his resignation.
The 33-year-old posted a photo of himself holding a handwritten letter of resignation and thanked the president for giving him “an opportunity to do good every minute of every day.”
Tymoshenko was involved in several scandals, including alleged personal use of an SUV donated to Ukraine for humanitarian purposes last October.
He was replaced by Oleksiy Kleva, the former head of the military government in the Kyiv region.
A senior government official, Oleg Nemchinov, also announced the resignation of five regional governors and four deputy ministers.
They include the central Dnipropetrovsk region, the Northeast Sumy region, the southern regions of Zaporizhia and Kherson, and the chiefs of the region around the capital Kyiv.
Nemchinov also announced the dismissal of two deputy ministers in charge of community and territorial development and the deputy minister in charge of social policy.
The Ministry of Defense separately announced the resignation of Deputy Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was in charge of logistical support for the army.
This was after the ministry was accused of signing food contracts at prices two to three times higher than current prices for basic groceries.
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The ministry said the accusations were “baseless and baseless,” but said Shapovalov’s resignation would “maintain the trust of society and international partners.”
Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Simonenko also resigned following reports that he had vacationed in Spain in a Ukrainian company’s car.
The United States welcomed the dismissal and said it was not known to have involved billions of dollars in US war support.
“The Ukrainian people have made it very clear that they want good governance and transparency,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Despite being vocal about fighting corruption, Zelensky himself has been embroiled in corruption scandals in the past.
In 2021, Zelensky used a network of offshore firms to purchase three luxury properties in London, according to so-called Pandora documents obtained by an international consortium of investigative journalists.
His office said at the time that former actor and comedian Zelensky set up the offshore company to protect himself from the “aggressive actions” of the “corrupt” regime of former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. rice field.
Transparency International ranked Ukraine 122nd out of 180 in its 2021 corruption rankings.