Death and destruction may have arrived in Ukraine, but corruption hasn’t left.
It’s the reason Volodymyr Zelensky has purged eleven senior officials in 72 hours in the biggest top-tier shake-up since the war began.
Among them is Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the president’s deputy head of office. Tymoshenko, resigned today, oversaw regional policy, and became a frequent spokesperson for the government when the war began.
He was accused by Ukrainian investigative journalists of driving expensive sports cars throughout the war, though denies any wrongdoing.
Deputy Defence Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov also resigned, following reports he oversaw the purchase of military food supplies at inflated prices. The department claimed no money had changed hands and called it a “technical mistake”.
Vasyl Lozinskyi, a deputy infrastructure minister, was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of receiving a £320,000 kickback linked to the import of generators into Ukraine in September.
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The crackdown is part of a wider push by Zelesnky to stamp out corruption.
But the embarrassing string of scandals is hardly surprising given Ukraine’s track record. The country’s Transparency International ranking was 122 out of 180 countries before the war began. Being one of the most corrupt countries in the world is a major obstacle to Ukraine’s hopes of joining the EU.
With tens of billions of dollars pouring into Ukraine from abroad, Zelensky is acutely aware that corruption risks queering his pitch with Western allies whose continued support Ukraine is desperate for.
More resignations are expected in the coming days.
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