Top Ukrainian government officials fired amid mounting divisions and corruption




Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is shown earlier this month giving a speech about Kiev's conflict with Russia. © Getty Images / Ukrainian Presidency handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

KYIV, Ukraine — Several senior Ukrainian officials were swept out of their posts on Tuesday, including a close adviser of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in part over corruption allegations, as Kyiv moved swiftly to show zero tolerance for graft that could undermine the confidence of Western nations that have kept the country alive with vast shipments of donated weapons and billions in economic assistance.

The dismissals and resignations of Zelenskyy’s deputy chief of staff, Kyrylo Timoshenko, Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov and Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko represented the biggest shake-up in the country’s leadership since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last February.

Other officials were removed outright from their positions, including several regional governors.

The removal of Shapovalov was directly connected to reports in the Ukrainian media that Defense Ministry officials bought food for the military at prices triple those found in local stores.

The ministry has denied allegations of wrongdoing but welcomed Shapovalov’s resignation as a confidence-building measure.

In its official Telegram channel, the Defense Ministry said Shapovalov “asked to be removed in order not to create threats to the stable support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine” because of “accusations related to the procurement of food services.”

However, the ministry also said that the accusations were “unfounded and baseless” and Shapovalov’s resignation was “a worthy act in the traditions of European and democratic politics.”

Other officials did not immediately give reasons for their resignations.

Timoshenko, who was a key domestic adviser to Zelenskyy, thanked a list of government agencies and officials, including Zelenskyy, for “the trust and the opportunity to do good deeds every day and every minute” but did not explain his departure.

Local media, however, reported that his resignation was at least partly the result of an investigation by Bihus.info, a local media outlet, which said that Timoshenko had commandeered for his personal use a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV that had been donated to the Ukrainian government for humanitarian aid operations.

The car was one of 50 Tahoe vehicles that General Motors sent to Ukraine earlier in the year to help distribute aid and to evacuate civilians from the war zone. Timoshenko confirmed that he drove the car, but said it was for official use.

Over the weekend, a deputy infrastructure minister, Vasyl Lozynsky, was dismissed in connection with a bribery case brought by Ukraine’s anticorruption agency.

Ukraine, under pressure from the United States and especially the European Union, has worked aggressively in recent years to curtail root out corruption that had long been pervasive across the government. The new allegations are particularly sensitive and troubling because the country, in wartime, has been totally reliant on donations from foreign countries — in weapons to fight the Russian invasion, as well as money to keep the economy afloat.

In his regular evening address on Monday, Zelenskyy said he had made “personnel decisions” in the country’s “ministries, central government bodies, regions, and law enforcement system.”

He also said that Ukrainian officials would be barred from traveling abroad for vacations during wartime.

“If they want to rest now, they will rest outside the civil service,” Zelenskyy said.

Source: Stars & Stripes




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