On Tuesday, eleven months to the day after the start of the war in Ukraine, several senior Ukrainian officials resigned after a corruption scandal was revealed by the press. These senior officials are accused of having, depending on their positions in the institutions, received bribes, financial or material, when signing various contracts related to the invasion. A dozen public figures were sacked. 20 minutes takes stock of these revelations while in Ukraine, institutions largely flirt with corruption.
What happened this Tuesday in Ukraine?
Five regional governors and four deputy ministers have been removed from their posts, the government announced on Tuesday after an alleged corruption scandal in the army amid the Russian invasion of the country. According to Taras Melnytchouk, government representative to Parliament, Deputy Defense Minister Viatcheslav Chapovalov, in charge of the logistical support of the armed forces, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiï Simonenko, the governors of the regions of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, Sumy, Kherson, the capital kyiv, a deputy minister of social policy and two deputy ministers of territorial development have been dismissed.
It should be noted that corruption is endemic in Ukraine: the country was ranked 122nd out of 180 on the NGO Transparency International’s corruption perception index in 2021. The EU has made anti-corruption measures one of the key reforms that must be implemented by Ukraine if it wishes to become a candidate for membership of the European bloc. And if Ukraine was regularly shaken before the Russian invasion by corruption scandals – an endemic evil in the country – this is the first case to break out since the Russian offensive launched on February 24, 2022.
What is blamed on these senior officials?
All would have received bribes in connection with the supply contracts of the army. Viatcheslav Chapovalov, a close friend of Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov, is thus accused of having participated in the signing of a contract at an overvalued price on food products intended for his soldiers, as revealed by the Ukrainian media ZN.UA. This contract would be worth approximately 324 million euros with prices set “two to three higher” than the current tariffs in force for basic food products.
Dnipropetrovsk region governor Valentin Reznichenko was accused by several media outlets in November of awarding road repair contracts worth tens of millions of euros to a group co-founded by his girlfriend working as a fitness trainer. According to press reports, his name and that of his colleagues from the Sumy, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions appear in judicial investigations.
If today, a dozen officials had to leave their posts, two others have been dismissed from their posts in recent days. On Sunday, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vassyl Lozinsky was arrested, accused of receiving a $400,000 bribe to “facilitate” the purchase of generators at inflated prices, as the country faces to extensive power cuts following Russian strikes against its energy infrastructure. Pavlo Galimon, the deputy leader of the presidential party “Servant of the People”, was sacked on Monday, amid accusations of corruption linked to the purchase of a property in kyiv for an amount greater than his declared income.
Have other shenanigans been revealed?
Yes… The head of the presidential administration Kyrylo Tymoshenko, one of the oldest collaborators of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, figures in several scandals. The one who notably supervised projects for the reconstruction of installations damaged by Russian strikes has been dismissed. In October, this official was accused of having used an all-terrain vehicle given to Ukraine by the American group General Motors for humanitarian purposes. After these revelations, he assured to have transmitted the vehicle to the needs of the front.
As for Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiï Simonenko, he was accused of having recently gone on vacation to Spain, while travel abroad, except for professional purposes, is normally prohibited for Ukrainian men of military age.
How did Volodymyr Zelensky react?
“I want it to be clear: there will be no return to what existed in the past, to the way various people close to state institutions lived or those who spent their whole lives chasing a armchair [un poste d’Etat] “, declared Sunday Volodymyr Zelensky in his traditional evening speech and this, without specifically mentioning this vast affair of corruption.
These departures could be followed by others, the Ukrainian president announced Monday evening “decisions relating to the personnel” concerning “executives of different levels in the ministries and other structures of the central government, in the regions and in the system of application of the law “. Earlier, on Monday, the president had announced a ban on government officials traveling abroad except on a professional mission: “If they want to rest now, they will do so outside the public service. Civil servants will no longer be able to travel abroad for holidays or for any other non-governmental reason. »
For its part, the Ministry of Defense assured that the accusations attributed to Viatcheslav Chapovalov were “unfounded”. And added that the departure of the deputy minister “will preserve the confidence of society and international partners as well as ensure the objectivity” of efforts to shed light on this affair. On Monday, Defense Minister Oleksiï Reznikov had assured him that this scandal was part of an “artificial informational attack” based on a “pretext”.