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Zelensky shakes up Ukrainian authorities amid rising corruption scandal

Kyiv, Ukraine CNN  — 

President Volodymyr Zelensky has fired a slew of senior Ukrainian officers amid a rising corruption scandal linked to the procurement of war-time provides, within the largest shakeup of his authorities since Russia’s invasion started.

Throughout his nightly deal with on Monday night, Zelensky introduced he was banning authorities officers from touring overseas on something however official enterprise, and stated he can be making “personnel modifications” within the coming days.

The announcement got here after the arrest on Sunday of Vasyl Lozynskyy, the performing minister for regional growth. The Nationwide Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine has accused Lozynskyy of receiving $400,000 in “illegal advantages” for facilitating contracts, together with for energy mills – a delicate problem in a rustic that’s struggling to deal with freezing temperatures and frequent energy cuts brought on by the Russia’s assaults on its infrastructure.

The Nationwide Anti-Corruption Bureau additionally stated it was investigating “high-profile media stories” into allegations that Ukraine’s protection ministry was shopping for navy provisions, together with meals for the troops, at inflated costs.

Lozynsky’s lawyer Oleksandr Tananakin stated Lozynsky had been dismissed from his put up earlier than being notified of the allegations. “No funds, not to mention within the quantities indicated by the [National Anti-Corruption Bureau], had been discovered and seized from Mr. Lozynsky,” he stated in an announcement posted on Fb on Monday. Tananakin then accused the bureau of “intentionally utilizing manipulative ways to tell the general public with the intention to artificially create a illustration of Lozynsky’s guilt and kind a unfavourable picture of him.”

The complete extent of Zelensky’s shakeup started to emerge on Tuesday.

Zelensky’s deputy chief of workers Kyrylo Tymoshenko introduced his resignation on his Telegram account on Tuesday morning after Ukrainian media reported he was utilizing a car meant for humanitarian functions and evacuations to go on enterprise journeys – allegations CNN just isn’t in a position to confirm.

With out giving any purpose for his choice, Tymoshenko shared a photograph of his resignation letter, dated Monday, and stated “I want to ask you to dismiss me from the put up of Deputy Head of the Workplace of the President of Ukraine at my very own request.”

In an announcement addressing the allegations, Tymoshenko stated the automobile – a Chevrolet Tahoe – was used for official functions and that he had by no means hidden the truth that he was utilizing it.

“In current months, I’ve pushed this automobile about 40,000 kilometers on enterprise journeys all through Ukraine. I can’t use this automobile sooner or later,” he stated, including that the car can be transferred to “one of many frontline areas, the place will probably be used for humanitarian functions” within the coming days.

Inside hours of Tymoschenko’s announcement, many extra adopted his footsteps.

Ukraine’s deputy protection minister Viacheslav Shapovalov, deputy prosecutor common Oleksii Symonenko, deputy ministers of regional growth Ivan Lukerya and Viacheslav Nehoda and the deputy minister of social coverage Vitalii Muzychenko had been all requested to resign or have give up as had been a number of regional officers.

An announcement posted on the protection ministry’s web site stated that Shapovalov, who was “accountable for the logistics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” had submitted his resignation after a “marketing campaign of accusations” which the ministry stated was “unfounded and baseless.”

The ministry posted Shapovalov’s resignation letter on-line. “As a result of giant public outcry, which was largely provoked by unsubstantiated manipulations across the problem of supplying the Armed Forces of Ukraine, there are dangers of destabilizing the military provide processes,” the letter stated.

“That is unacceptable through the battle with Russia. On this state of affairs, the precedence is to make sure the secure work of the Ministry of Protection of Ukraine and to create circumstances for clear, unbiased inspections by regulation enforcement and different approved our bodies.”

Lukerya stated on Tuesday that he made the choice to depart his put up earlier this yr, “however sadly, as a result of political and bureaucratic circumstances, the authorized formalization coincided with this week.”

Power corruption

In line with a 2021 report by Transparency Worldwide, Ukraine is the second most corrupt nation in Europe after Russia. Globally, it ranked 122nd of 180 international locations.

Zelensky’s promise to rid the federal government of corruption was one of many causes behind his fast ascent into energy in 2019.

A former comic who performed Ukraine’s president on successful TV present, Zelensky had zero political expertise on the time of his election – however managed to faucet into the nation’s deep-rooted disappointment and disgust over rampant corruption.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak stated on Twitter on Tuesday that the modifications throughout the authorities confirmed Zelensky was dedicated to preventing corruption.

“Zelensky’s personnel choices testify to the important thing priorities of the state… No ‘blind eyes’,” he wrote. “In the course of the battle, everybody ought to perceive their duty. The President sees and hears society. And he immediately responds to a key public demand – justice for all.”

However Transparency Worldwide stated a number of work stays to be executed. Whereas praising a number of the steps Zelensky’s authorities has taken lately, it stated final yr that Ukraine’s combat towards corruption has stalled and was caught in “impasse”.

Tackling corruption is essential for Ukraine’s ambition to hitch the European Union sooner or later.

Ukraine formally turned an EU candidate state final yr, however Brussels has made it clear that Kyiv might want to step up its combat towards corruption if it desires to develop into a full member.

Ana Pisonero, a spokesperson for the European Fee, stated Tuesday that whereas she couldn’t touch upon ongoing prison issues, the Fee does “welcome after all the truth that the Ukrainian authorities are taking these points critically.”

Kostan Nechyporenko reported from Kyiv; Ivana Kottasová wrote from London. Irene Nasser and Tim Lister contributed reporting.

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