On Tuesday, the Ukrainian government confirmed the resignation of numerous high-ranking officials as the result of widespread corruption allegations. The situation is being called the biggest graft scandal since Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year ago.
A massive political shake-up over probes into allegations that have ranged from mismanagement of aid funds for purchasing food to embezzlement and beyond have led to the resignation of a dozen top Ukrainian officials.
Some of those resignations include a top presidential advisor and 4 deputy ministers, including 2 who were defense officials. Additionally, 5 regional governors were forced to resign, including the governors of the war-torn regions of Zaporihzhia and Kherson where Russian forces have allegedly been making gains in recent weeks.
According to international reports about the announcement made by senior government official Oleg Nemchinov, the following officials were relieved of their posts:
- Deputy Prosecutor General Oleskiy Symonenko
- Deputy Minister for Development of Communities and Territories Ivan Lukeryu
- Deputy Minister for Development of Communities and Territories Vyacheslav Negoda
- Deputy Minister for Social Policy Vitaliy Muzychenk
- And the regional governors of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Sumy, and Kherson
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In addition to the aforementioned individuals, the Defense Ministry had previously announced the additional resignation of Deputy Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who was in charge of the army’s logistical support. Shapovalov had allegations brought against his department that it was signing contracts for food at inflated rates.
Shapovalov is accused of signing a deal with an unknown, disreputable firm. Of all the resignations, Shapovalov’s is the most significant and publically visible one, as he would have played a major role in the oversight of billions of dollars in defense aid from the U.S. and other European countries. he is accused of purchasing rations for the military at inflated rates in what is alleged to be a scheme to line the pockets of contractors with Shapovalov possibly receiving kickbacks as well.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry is trying to downplay the purchasing of food at inflated prices as a “technical error,” while Shapovalov wrote in his resignation letter that he was stepping down so as “not to pose a threat to the stable supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a result of a campaign of accusations related to the purchase of food services.”
Then there is Kyrylo Tymoshenko, who is the deputy head of the Zelensky administration. Tymoshenko is accused of living a posh lifestyle during a time of war when the rest of the country is without electricity or running water. According to local news outlets, Tymoshenko has been seen driving high-end sports cars in and out of Kyiv and to and from his mansions, which range in cost from $10,000 to $25,000 per month.
Despite the clear corruption, Western mainstream media continues to downplay the graft-induced forced resignations, with AFP writing, “Ukraine has long suffered endemic corruption, including among the political elite, but efforts to stamp out graft have been overshadowed by Moscow’s full-scale war that began in February.”
While the head of the Zelensky administration throws defense aid at luxury cars and personal mansions, Symonenko, the Deputy Prosecutor General, is at the center of allegations that he went on a lavish vacation in Spain this winter while Ukrainians suffered in bitter temperatures without food or water at home. As a result of Symonenko’s stint in Spain, the Ukrainian government has reportedly banned top officials from taking vacations abroad.
Prior to the flood of resignations, the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Development, Vasyl Lozynskiy, was accused of accepting bribes to “facilitate” the purchase of generators at inflated prices. He, too, would have been involved in the oversight of billions of dollars in defense aid from the U.S. and other Ukrainian allies.
Given the large-scale corruption within the Ukrainian government in recent days, the AFP has finally been forced to acknowledge that “Transparency International ranked Ukraine 122 out o f180 in its corruption ranking for 2021.” It is the second most corrupt government in Europe, trailing only behind Russia.
The scandal is continuing its cancerous spread as Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is now coming under scrutiny as well.
Meanwhile, as his government seemingly crumbles around him, Zelensky took to Twitter to thank several major U.S. banks and firms for their support and encouraged the U.S. and Western allies to send tanks to Ukraine while pointing out that it would result in a “big business” opportunity for U.S. corporations.
As with most scandals, things are expected to get worse before they improve, which can have devastating consequences for Ukrainians as they struggle daily to live their lives in a country still being ravaged by war.
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