- Zelenskiy says upcoming changes in government and regional Corruption allegations most high profile of war
- The former economy minister welcomes the government’s response
- Ruling party boss threatens prison officials
KYIV, Jan 23 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday changes would be announced shortly in the government, regions and security forces following corruption allegations nearly a year after the Russian invasion.
Zelenskiy, elected by an overwhelming majority in 2019 on promises to change the way government works, did not identify in his nightly video address which civil servants to replace.
“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,” Zelenskiy said.
The president said part of the crackdown would involve tighter monitoring of foreign travel for official business.
Ukrainian media have reported that a number of ministers and senior officials could be sacked as Zelenskiy tries to streamline the government.
One of the president’s key allies earlier said corrupt officials would be “actively” jailed, taking a zero-tolerance approach after the allegations surfaced.
HISTORY OF CORRUPTION
Ukraine has a long history of corruption and weak governance, although there have been few instances since last year’s invasion as Kyiv sought Western financial and military support to help fight Russian forces.
Anti-corruption police said on Sunday 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 .
A parliamentary committee on Monday agreed to toughen government procurement regulations after media allegations that the Defense Ministry overpaid suppliers for soldiers’ food. A bill was to be presented on the partial publication of purchase prices in times of conflict.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, quoted by media, told the committee that the reports were based on a “technical error” with no money changing hands.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau said it was aware of the media report and was investigating a possible crime of appropriation of funds or abuse of authority regarding purchases worth more than 13 billion hryvnia ($352 million).
David Arakhamia, leader of Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party, said it had been made clear since the invasion of Russia that those responsible should “focus on the war, helping the victims, reducing bureaucracy and ending the dubious business”.
“Many of them got the message. But unfortunately, many of them didn’t. We will definitely be actively imprisoning this spring. If the human approach doesn’t work, we will do so according to the law. martial,” he said. said.
Timofiy Mylovanov, a former economy, trade and agriculture minister, praised the government’s “proactive and very quick” response to the allegations. He said the deputy minister of infrastructure was immediately fired and pointed to the company’s “unprecedented” level of attention to the matter.
Ukraine, whose economy shrank by a third last year, is hugely dependent on Western financial aid and donors such as the International Monetary Fund and the EU have repeatedly asked for more transparency and better governance.
($1 = 36.9250 hryvnias)
Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Olena Harmash; Editing by Peter Graff and Stephen Coates
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