War in Ukraine: corruption cases shake government of Volodymyr Zelensky

Several senior officials involved in scandals, including the defense minister, have resigned or were dismissed. These decisions are closely scrutinized by its allies, while kyiv, which depends on international aid against Russia, aspires to join the EU.

by Faustine Vincent and Emmanuel Grynszpan

posed by the old regime under the foundations of the Ukrainian state, two charges exploded simultaneously at the back of the front. Two accusations of corruption against senior officials caused a ministerial reshuffle in an emergency. Tuesday, January 24, the deputy chief of the president, Kyrylo Timochenko, and the defense minister, Viatcheslav Chapovalov, resigned, while the deputy prosecutor Oleksii Simonenko was dismissed.

The first deflagration within the power occurred on January 21, during the publication of a resounding investigation in the weekly Zerkalo Nedeli, which revealed the massive overcharging of food products intended for the army through a shell company. The scam, according to the magazine, would reach the sum of $ 330 million (just over 303 million euros).

The next day, the vice-minister of the infrastructure Vassyl Lozinsky was arrested by the anti-corruption police, his hand in the bag, while pocketing a bridge pot of $ 400,000 (367,000 euros). He was immediately dismissed from the government.

From Monday, January 23 in the evening, President Volodymyr Zelensky had tried to extinguish the fire by announcing changes in the coming twenty-four hours at high positions of the government and in the regions. Before the Russian invasion, the Head of State had made the fight against corruption his workhorse, claiming to embody a generational rupture with the political elite in power since the independence of the country in 1991.

be exemplary

In kyiv, the first reaction of the Ministry of Defense was to obey old canons of the genre, denying the facts, and the SBU (the security services) was summoned to investigate the “publication of false information harming to defense interests “. Correcting the shot two days later, Minister Oleksii Reznikov, a close friend of Volodymyr Zelensky, said on his Facebook page that the suspected contract includes a “technical error”. However, he could not help threatening the whistleblower at the origin of leaks in the press, who “will have to answer for his actions”. Except that between the Nabu, the independent body created in 2014, cut the grass under the minister’s foot by revealing that a criminal investigation had been opened on this overcharging case, even before the case is possibly.

The way in which kyiv’s authorities manage these corruption accusations is scrutinized by Westerners. More than ever, Ukraine, which depends on international aid against Russia and aspires to join the European Union (EU), must be exemplary. “If donors start to have doubts and think that it is corrupt, it is toxic, nobody will want to give anything anymore,” confirms the Viola von Cramon, European deputy and vice-president of the delegation to the Commission UE-Ukraine association parliamentarian.

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/Media reports cited above.