WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Several high-ranking officials in Ukraine were dismissed or resigned amid a corruption crackdown.
- At least one resignation was linked to a scandal involving the embezzlement of funds.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had vowed to weed out corruption amid the ongoing war.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is delivering on his promise to crack down on corruption as he launched a staff shake-up amid the ongoing war with Russia.
Four deputy ministers and five regional governors will be stepping down from their positions, the nation’s cabinet secretary confirmed on Telegram.
Zelenskyy’s pledge to crack down on corruption started during his presidential campaign, which had an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform. He recently renewed this pledge to earn the trust that the billions of aid they have been receiving from Western allies are indeed being used to fund Kyiv’s fight against Moscow.
Tuesday’s resignations included Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy chief of Ukraine’s presidential office, and Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko. Tymoshenko worked on Zelenskyy’s media and creative content strategy during his presidential campaign and joined the presidential office in 2019.
Last year, Tymoshenko was investigated for his personal use of luxury cars amid the ongoing war. Last September, he was also linked to embezzling over $7 million of humanitarian aid to be used for the southern Zaporizhzhia region. He denied all accusations and did not specify a reason for his resignation.
Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned as Deputy Defense Minister after local media reports linked him to a corruption scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Vasyl Lozynsky, a deputy minister in Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry, was dismissed on Sunday for his part in a network that embezzled budget funds. Infrastructure minister Oleksandr Kubrakov confirmed that Lozynsky was detained earlier by Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency for receiving a $400,000 bribe to fix contracts for restoring infrastructure facilities destroyed by Russian missile strikes.
Zelenskyy previously vowed that his administration can weed out corruption while fighting off Russian attacks.
The Ukrainian leader repeated his sentiment in his nightly video address: “I want to be clear: There will be no return to what used to be in the past.”
Ukraine’s corruption crackdown is vital in its application for membership in the European Union. Member countries need to meet specific economic and political conditions, such as a commitment to democracy and the rule of law.
The E.U. had agreed to support Ukraine on its path to membership to help distance it from Russian influence and strengthen its connection to the West.
The corruption in Ukraine, as well as the current conflict in its borders, is among the reasons that NATO has yet to offer an invitation for membership.
Source: NBC News