Dismissals and resignations – notably of Zelensky’s deputy Kyrilo Tymoshenko; Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov; and Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko — the biggest shakeup of the country’s leadership since Russia launched its full-scale invasion last February.
Other officials, including several regional governors, were removed from their posts altogether.
Mykhailo Podoliak, a top adviser to Zelensky, tweeted that the president’s “labor decisions testify to the state’s top priorities … no blind eyes” — adding that Zelensky “sees and listens to society” and “responds to public demands for justice. All.”
Another Ukrainian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said some in the government had complained for months about what they saw as a pattern of corruption and said he predicted Zelensky’s actions on Tuesday were “just the beginning.” .”
Congressional Republicans, particularly in the House where they now hold a narrow majority, have raised concerns about accounting for the billions in aid sent to Kiev by the Biden administration. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), prodded by his right wing, said there should be no “blank checks” for Ukraine, and he has pledged greater oversight.
A senior U.S. official said Tuesday there was no concern “at this point” that the news could poison U.S. relations with Ukraine.
But the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, indicated there were concerns about how the corruption allegations might resonate in Washington and beyond. “There is a 100 percent chance that prime-time talk show hosts and those already repeating Kremlin talking points via social media will use this to push their isolationist ideologies,” the official said.
Shapovalov’s removal was directly related to reports in Ukrainian media that Defense Ministry officials bought food for the military at three times the price found in local stores.
The ministry has denied allegations of wrongdoing, but welcomed Shapovalov’s resignation as a confidence-building measure.
On its official Telegram channel, the Defense Ministry said Shapovalov had been fired “due to allegations related to the procurement of food services” in order not to “create threats to the stable support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
However, the ministry said the allegations were “baseless 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.
Tymoshenko, who was Zelensky’s main domestic adviser, thanked a list of government agencies and officials, including Zelensky’s, “for the trust and opportunity to do good deeds every minute of every day,” but did not explain his departure.
However, local media reported that his resignation was at least partly a result of the investigation Bihus.infoA local media outlet reported that Tymoshenko commandeered a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV donated to the Ukrainian government for humanitarian aid operations for his personal use.
One of the 50 Tahoe vehicles General Motors sent to Ukraine earlier this year to deliver aid and evacuate civilians from the war zone. Tymoshenko confirmed that he drove the car, but said it was for official use.
Over the weekend, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vasyl Lozhinsky was fired in connection with a bribery case brought by Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency.
Ukraine, under pressure from the United States and especially the European Union, has been working aggressively in recent years to root out corruption that has long spread throughout the government. The new allegations are particularly sensitive and troubling because the country, in times of war, relies heavily on donations from foreign countries — weapons to fight Russian aggression and money to keep the economy afloat.
Oleksandr Novikov, head of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Agency, said swift action was necessary because Ukrainians expected their leaders to participate in the shared national sacrifice the war demanded of them.
“Despite the war, Ukrainians have become more intolerant of corrupt practices and more willing to behave in a manner of integrity,” Novikov said in response to questions sent via text message. “Before the war, only 40 percent of Ukrainians believed that corruption could not be justified. Circumstances, now – 64 percent.
Some anti-corruption advocates in the country hailed the firings as a necessary move that sends an important message to others in the government. “This is an overall healthy sign,” said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Kyiv-based Anti-Corruption Action Center, which is funded by the US and the European Union as well as private donations.
In his regular evening speech on Monday, Zelensky said he had made “labor decisions” in the country’s “ministries, central government bodies, regions and law enforcement.”
He also said that Ukrainian officials will be banned from going abroad for vacation during the war.
“If they want to retire now, they will retire outside the civil service,” Zelensky said.
Shane Harris, John Hudson and Dan Lamothe in Washington contributed to this report.
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