The president promises changes in the government after reports of corruption in the defense and infrastructure ministries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would make changes to the government and security services as part of a new crackdown on corruption, nearly a year since Russia invaded the country.
In his Monday night video address, Zelensky did not name the officials who would be replaced but indicated that a reshuffling was imminent.
“There are already personnel decisions – some today, some tomorrow – regarding officials at various levels in ministries and other central government structures, as well as in regions and in the law enforcement system,” said the president.
Zelensky was elected overwhelmingly in 2019 on promises to reform the government and tackle corruption, which had plagued the country long before Moscow sent troops across the border on February 24 last year.
Ukraine ranked 122 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2021.
Over the weekend, it emerged that the Department of Defense was buying food for soldiers at exorbitant prices, raising questions about government purchases.
On Sunday, anti-corruption police said they had detained a deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of taking a $400,000 bribe to facilitate the import of generators into wartime Ukraine last September. The deputy minister was also sacked.
Ukrainian media has reported that a number of ministers and senior officials could be sacked as Zelensky moves to streamline the government.
A senior ally of the president said earlier that corrupt officials would be “actively” imprisoned.
Corruption in Ukraine. There are two emerging procurement scandals. Both show that corruption is episodic but the cultural shift to combat it is systemic. This is my opinion as a former Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates. 1 /
– Timofey Milovanov (Mylovanov) January 22, 2023
Zelensky also announced on Monday that government officials would be banned from personal trips abroad.
The move followed revelations that Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Simonenko went on holiday to Spain in December and January in a Mercedes owned by a Lviv businessman. Citing law enforcement sources, the online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda reported that Simonenko had resigned.
On Monday, a parliamentary committee agreed to tighten regulations on procurement and announcing some prices in times of dispute.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov was quoted by the media as telling the committee that reports of corruption in the ministry were based on a “technical error” with no mutual funds.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau said it was investigating the possible crime of appropriation of funds or abuse of power in connection with the procurement, which was said to be estimated at more than 13 billion Ukrainian hryvnia ($352 million).
Ukraine’s economy shrank by a third last year, and the country relies heavily on Western financial aid. Donors, including the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, have repeatedly called for more transparency and better governance.
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