Several senior Ukrainian officials were dismissed or resigned in recent days after being accused of corruption, according to multiple reports, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vows to crack down on pervasive corruption in the war-scarred country—a mission the European Union says is necessary before Ukraine can join the bloc.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, resigned Tuesday after he reportedly used a vehicle meant for humanitarian purposes and evacuations for personal use, according to the BBC, though he denies any wrongdoing.
Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov—responsible for the logistics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine—resigned Tuesday amid allegations he purchased food supplies for the Ukraine military at inflated prices, though he has called the claims “unfounded and baseless,” according to the Washington Post.
Vasyl Lozynsky, the acting minister for regional development, denied claims he received $400,000 in bribes in exchange for electric generators after he was arrested by Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency Sunday, according to CNN.
The regional governors of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv, Sumy and Kherson were also dismissed, in addition to deputy ministers Oleskii Symonenko, Ivan Lukerya, Vyacheslav Negoda and Vitalii Muzychenko.
The effort to remove allegedly corrupt government officials follows an announcement by the European Commission—which listed Ukraine as a candidate to join the European Union last year—requesting Ukraine “further strengthen the fight against corruption” before the country is granted membership.
Zelensky said Ukraine will continue to take steps to remove internal corruption, adding “there will be no return to what used to be in the past, to the way various people close to state institutions or those who spent their entire lives chasing a chair used to live.”
Ukraine has struggled with corruption for decades. Transparency International, a Berlin-based nonprofit that measures corruption in countries by weighing scandals and acts by a government to limit civil and political freedoms, ranked Ukraine as the second-most corrupt country in Europe in 2021, behind only Russia. Overall, Ukraine is ranked 122 out of 180 countries.
What To Watch For
David Arakhamia, head of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, said some of the officials could face criminal consequences later this spring, according to Politico.
Ukraine applied for European Union membership less than one week after Russian forces invaded the country in February 2022. Many Ukrainians have favored joining the European Union for years, a move that would place the country outside of Russia’s orbit, and although a sizable number of Ukrainians have also historically backed close ties with Russia, some polls indicate public support for joining the EU has jumped significantly since the Russian invasion began. But joining the bloc is a complicated and often drawn-out process: All new members are required to have the consent of all European Union institutions and existing member states, while complying with the union’s standards and rules. Prospective members are also required to have a democratic government, a functioning market economy and the ability to adhere to the union’s political and economic goals before applying. The European Commission responded to Ukraine’s application on June 17, 2022, noting Ukraine needs to enact “ambitious structural reforms to remove corruption” and to remove the “persistent influence of oligarchs” before it could be formally introduced as a member. Once Ukraine meets the criteria outlined by the European Commission, Ukrainian officials will then negotiate financial and transitional arrangements—including how much the new member will receive from the EU’s budget—that would allow the country to integrate into the union.
Several Top Officials Fired Amid Corruption Crackdown In Ukraine (New York Times)