Ukraine Corruption Scandal Deepens as Zelensky Sacks String of Officials

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pays his respects to victims of a deadly helicopte
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

A string of senior Ukraine government officials were sacked or resigned amidst a flurry of corruption claims Tuesday, with those shown the door accused of taking illicit payments as the Ministry of Defence allegedly signed overinflated military contracts.

Reports of foul play in Ukraine’s high offices first broke over the weekend, with critics pointing to under the table payments to deputy ministers and suspect military equipment contracts, however only now are details being made public and those accused named.

AFP reports Deputy Defence Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Kyrylo Tymoshenko and Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Simonenko are among the officials who have allegedly departed.

The Guardian details the comprehensive list of dismissals is long. It sets out Tymoshenko personally asked President Volodymyr Zelensky to relieve him of his duties as part of the wave of exits.

The move comes amid a corruption scandal which saw Infrastructure deputy Vasyl Lozinskyi sacked and detained for an alleged theft of $400,000 from the winter aid budget.

Military-grade weaponry in Ukraine has previously alleged to have been sold on to international buyers on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, including some hardware made in the United States, as Breitbart News reported.

Ukraine’s deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, responsible for supplying troops with food and equipment, has also resigned, citing “media accusations” of corruption that he and the ministry say are baseless.

A statement on the defence ministry’s website said Shapovalov’s resignation was “a worthy deed” that would help retain trust in the ministry

Deputy prosecutor general Oleksiy Symonenko has been removed from his post, according to the prosecutor general’s office, and two deputy ministers resigned from Ukraine’s Ministry of Communities and Territories Development – Vyacheslav Negoda and Ivan Lukerya.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, right, and ex-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson talk during their meeting in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

According to the Guardian, the heads of five regional authorities across the country have also been dismissed, in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kyiv, Sumy and Kherson.

Over the weekend, Euro News reports a Ukrainian newspaper investigation accused the Defence Ministry of signing off contracts to supply food to frontline troops at “two to three” times the regular price.

The amount in question is U.S. $347 million for 2023, according to the ZN.UA news site.

“Even if these accusations are unfounded.. [the resignations] will make it possible to preserve the confidence of society and international partners,” said the Ministry of Defence in a press release.

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