January 29, 2023

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Several Ukraine Officials Fired Amid Zelensky’s Anti-Corruption Efforts: Live Updates

Several Ukraine Officials Fired Amid Zelensky's Anti-Corruption Efforts: Live Updates

KYIV, Ukraine — Several senior Ukrainian officials were sacked on Tuesday, including the governors of several Ukrainian regions, amid a ballooning corruption scandal. The move marks the biggest upheaval in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government since the Russian invasion began 11 months ago.

The Ukrainian government ministry, which announced the shooting on the social messaging app Telegram, gave no details of the cause, but it followed reports that the Ukrainian military had agreed to pay inflated prices for food intended for Ukrainian forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Deputy Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov “asked to be fired” following the reports. Removing Mr. Shapovalov from his duties, the ministry said in a statement, “maintains the confidence” of Ukrainians and the country’s international partners.

While there was no indication that the procurement scandal involved misappropriation of Western military aid, the dismissals appear to reflect Mr. Zelensky’s goal of reassuring Ukraine’s allies — who send billions of dollars in military aid — that his government will have zero tolerance for graft. And it is preparing for a possible new attack by Moscow.

credit…Press office of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, via The Associated Press

In addition to the officials named on Tuesday, Zelensky’s own deputy, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, has also tendered his resignation. Mr. Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the presidential office, was known both domestically and internationally and was often tasked with providing updates on the war. But Ukrainian journalists have raised questions about his lavish lifestyle and use of government resources.

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In particular, he was criticized for navigating an expensive SUV that General Motors had donated for use in humanitarian missions.

credit…Ukraine’s Presidential Press Service, via EPA/Shutterstock

Ukraine had been struggling to control burgeoning corruption long before the invasion. But for many Ukrainians, the sense of shared struggle and unity throughout the war makes the notion that senior officials might undermine the country’s collective effort for their own gain particularly troubling, especially if corruption involves the military.

Over the weekend, a Ukrainian newspaper reported that the Defense Ministry had bought food at inflated prices, including eggs, at three times their cost. Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov called the allegations “absolute nonsense” and the product of “distorted information”.

In its statement on Tuesday, the ministry affirmed that “the accusations voiced are unfounded and unfounded,” but described Mr. Shapovalov’s request for dismissal as “a worthy act in the traditions of European politics and democracy, evidence that defense interests are higher than any treasury.” or chairs.

Shapovalov’s resignation raises serious questions about the Defense Ministry’s commitment to rooting out corruption, said Vitaly Shabunin, director of operations at the Anti-Corruption Center, a Kyiv-based NGO.

“A new social contract has emerged during the war between civil society, journalists and the government: we will not criticize you as we did before the war, but your reaction to any scandal and ineffectiveness must be as harsh as possible,” said Mr. Chaponin. . “The position of the Minister of Defense broke this agreement.”