The president promises changes to the government after reports of corruption in the defense and infrastructure ministries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said he will make changes to the government and security services as part of a new crackdown on corruption, nearly a year after Russia invaded the country.
In his Monday night video address, Zelenskyy did not name which officials would be replaced, but indicated the reshuffle was imminent.
“There are already personnel decisions – some today, some tomorrow – affecting civil servants at different levels in ministries and other central government structures, as well as in regions and in the enforcement system. law,” the president said.
Zelenskyy was elected in a landslide in 2019 on promises to reform the government and tackle corruption, which had plagued the country long before Moscow sent its troops across the border on February 24. from last year.
Ukraine ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2021.
Over the weekend it emerged that the Ministry of Defense had purchased food for soldiers at inflated prices, raising questions about government procurement processes.
On Sunday, anti-corruption police said they arrested the deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of receiving a $400,000 bribe to facilitate the import of generators into wartime Ukraine last September. The Deputy Minister was also removed from his post.
Ukrainian media have reported that a number of ministers and senior officials could be sacked as Zelenskyy strives to streamline the government.
One of the president’s top allies 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 that the culture change to combat it is systemic. This is my view as a former AU economy minister. 1/
— Tymofiy Mylovanov (@Mylovanov) January 22, 2023
Zelenskyy also announced on Monday that government officials would be banned from making personal trips abroad.
The move follows revelations that Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko went on vacation to Spain in December and January in a Mercedes owned by a Lviv businessman. Citing law enforcement sources, online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda reported that Symonenko had resigned.
A parliamentary committee agreed on Monday to tighten public procurement regulations and to make certain prices public in times of conflict.
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, quoted by the media, told the committee that the reports of corruption in the ministry were based on a “technical error” without the money changing hands.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau said it was investigating a possible crime of misappropriation of funds or abuse of power in relation to procurement, which it said was valued at over 13 billion. Ukrainian hryvnias ($352 million).
Ukraine’s economy shrank by a third last year and the country is heavily dependent on Western financial aid. Donors, including the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, have repeatedly called for more transparency and better governance.