By Maria Starkova
LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that corruption, a chronic problem in the country sidelined by the war with Russia, would not be tolerated and promised key decisions to come to root it out this week.
Zelenskiy’s pledge came amid high-profile corruption allegations, including a report of questionable practices in military procurement despite officials promoting national unity to deal with the invasion.
“I want to be clear: there will be no return to what was in the past, to the way various people close to state institutions lived or those who spent their whole lives chasing after a chair,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address.
Ukraine has a long history of endemic corruption and weak governance, with Transparency International ranking the country’s corruption 122nd out of 180 countries, not much better than Russia in 2021.
The EU has made anti-corruption reforms one of its key requirements for Ukraine’s membership after granting Kyiv candidate status last year.
“This week will be the time for appropriate decisions,” Zelenskiy said. “The decisions have already been prepared. I don’t want to make them public at the moment, but everything will be fair.”
Elected by an overwhelming majority in 2019 on promises to change the way the former Soviet state was governed, Zelenskiy said his government had accepted the resignation of a deputy minister after an investigation into allegations he allegedly accepted a bribe.
He did not identify who was responsible, but news reports said an acting deputy minister for regional development, Vasyl Lozinskiy, was arrested for accepting a bribe.
The renewed focus on corruption has also implicated Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov after a newspaper reported the military allegedly got food at hugely inflated prices.
Reznikov’s ministry called the allegations “false” and a parliamentary commission was set up to investigate.
(Reporting by Maria Starkova; Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)