Volodymyr Zelensky says he wants to end the corruption of the authorities

Ukraine’s president said on Sunday that Ukraine would fight corruption more effectively in the future, while a deputy minister was arrested on Sunday.

Ukraine’s president launched a denunciation of corruption in his country late Sunday, as several accusations have been leveled against members of the government in recent days. “The cabinet of ministers of Ukraine has dismissed a deputy minister who has been exposed” by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Volodymy Zelensky said on his Facebook page.

A senior Ukrainian ministry official, who is suspected of embezzlement, was indeed dismissed this weekend. At the same time, an internal audit was launched at the Ministry of Defense following press disclosures about alleged contracts signed at inflated prices.

With these cases, the president of Ukraine wants to send “a signal to all those whose actions or behavior violate the principles of justice.”

Volodymyr Zelensky assured that “this week will be the time to make the right decisions” and that “the state will take the necessary decisive measures” to end corruption in Ukraine.

The deputy minister who was fired

On Saturday, the NABU arrested Vasyl Lozynkiï, Deputy Minister of Community, Territorial and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine, on suspicion of embezzlement. In office since May 2020, he will receive $400,000 “to facilitate completion of the contract for the purchase of equipment and generators at an increased price,” NABU indicated in a press release.

The arrests are part of a larger investigation targeting what the statement called “organized crime groups”. Accordingly, other officials were suspected of having expropriated “a portion of the state fund”, which was usually intended to “provide residents with alternative sources of light, heat and water supply during the winter period”.

And this while Ukraine faces a power shortage following a Russian attack on its energy facilities in the middle of winter.

Minister of Defense accused

In another alleged corruption case, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense on Sunday ordered the launch of an “internal audit” and held an “emergency meeting” on Monday around the Defense Minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, to explain the possibility of the contract being inflated. by the ministry.

On Saturday, press reports in national media accused the Ukrainian ministry of signing contracts for extortionate prices for food products intended for its soldiers. According to news website ZN.UA., the signed contract, for 2023, will be worth 13 billion hryvnias, or more than 350 million dollars at current exchange rates, at a price set “two to three times higher” than the current price. . applicable tariffs for staple food products.

Oleksiy Reznikov denies this fact and, according to the same media, will remain at his post throughout the investigation.

“If violations are found in the activities of officials of the Ministry of Defense, they will be held accountable in accordance with applicable law,” the Ukrainian ministry said in a statement. “The ministry purchases the relevant products according to the procedures stipulated by law”, however, he underlined, judging “false” and “misleading” the information released in the press.

“This was promulgated with the intention of deliberately manipulating” and “harmful to defense interests during a special period”, he sneered, recalling that “checks were carried out” on signed contracts.

“Ukraine is beset by corruption”

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the country was already known for its corruption problems. According to data from the NGO Transparency International, since 2021, 23% of users of public services in Ukraine have paid bribes in the last 12 months. The country is ranked 122 out of 180 on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

“Ukraine has been beset by corruption, including massive corruption, for many years,” wrote the European Court of Auditors, also in 2021.

But the European Union has made anti-corruption reform one of its top conditions for accepting Ukraine’s integration request. The billions of euros that were given to kyiv to help it rebuild its country amid the war and to keep Ukraine’s national budget afloat, were accompanied by demands in this direction.

“The European Union needs to ensure that the 18 billion euros will be used properly by Ukraine”, explained to the Ukrainian website Eurointegration.com, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Stefanichyna, noting that among its conditions appear in special issues related to “rule of law and eradicating corruption.

“I want to make it clear: there will be no return to what was in the past,” Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday.

Salome Vincendon with AFP BFMTV journalist

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