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Kyrylo Tymoshenko Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP/PA Images

Senior Ukrainian officials quit amid corruption crackdown

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, resigned, along with deputy defence minister Viacheslav Shapovalov.

LAST UPDATE | 24 Jan 2023

A HIGH-LEVEL shake-up in the Ukrainian government has cost nearly a dozen senior officials their jobs as the president seeks to root out entrenched corruption while conducting the fight against Russia’s invasion.

The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office quit after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to address high-level corruption allegations — including some related to specific wartime spending — that have embarrassed authorities and could slow the country’s bids to join the European Union and Nato.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko asked to be relieved of his duties, according to an online copy of a decree signed by Zelenskyy and Tymoshenko’s own social media posts. Neither gave a reason for the resignation.

Deputy defence minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned, local media reported, alleging his departure was linked to a scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian armed forces. Deputy prosecutor general Oleksiy Symonenko quit as well.

In all, four deputy ministers and five regional governors were set to leave their posts, the country’s cabinet secretary said.

The departures thinned the government’s wartime ranks as Zelenskyy had already lost his interior minister, who oversaw Ukraine’s police and emergency services, and the rest of the ministry’s leadership in a helicopter crash last week.

With western allies channelling billions of pounds to help Kyiv’s fight against Moscow, Mr Zelensky had pledged to weed out corruption which some observers have described as endemic. He came to power in 2019 on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform.

Tymoshenko joined the presidential office in 2019 after working on Zelenskyy’s media and creative content strategy during his presidential campaign.

Tackling corruption

In his nightly video address on Sunday, the president said Ukraine’s focus on the Russian invasion would not stop his government from tackling alleged corruption, even amid a war.

“I want to be clear: there will be no return to what used to be in the past,” he said.

vz Volodymyr Zelenskyy PA Images PA Images

Tymoshenko was last year under investigation relating to his personal use of luxury cars. He was also among officials linked last September by an investigator working with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine to the embezzlement of humanitarian aid worth more than $7 million (over €6.4 million) earmarked for the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

He has denied all the allegations.

On Sunday, a deputy minister at the infrastructure ministry, Vasyl Lozynsky, was dismissed for being part of a network allegedly embezzling budget funds.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, the infrastructure minister, said Mr Lozynsky was relieved of his duties after Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency detained him while he was receiving a $400,000 (about €368,000) bribe for helping to fix contracts related to restoring facilities battered by Russian missile strikes.

Last June, the EU agreed to put Ukraine on a path toward EU membership. To join the bloc, countries must meet a host of economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles.

Ukraine has long aspired to join Nato as well, but the military alliance is not about to offer an invitation because of the country’s contested borders, defence establishment shortcomings and, in part, its corruption issues.

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