Zelensky reshuffles flag after corruption allegations

  • Zelensky says changes in government and regions are coming: Corruption allegations are most visible in war
  • Former economy minister praises government’s response
  • Ruling party leader threatens officials with jail

KYIV, Jan 23 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday that the government, regions and security forces will be in control after corruption allegations emerged almost a year after the Russian invasion. Announce reforms immediately.

Zelensky, who was elected in a landslide in 2019 on a promise to change the way the government works, did not identify officials to replace in his nightly video address.

“There have been a number of personnel decisions — some today, some tomorrow — about officials at ministries and other central government agencies, as well as at various levels of the regional and law enforcement systems,” Zelensky said.

The president said part of the crackdown would involve tightening regulations on official travel abroad.

Ukrainian media reported that some cabinet ministers and senior officials could be fired as Zelensky tries to streamline the government.

A key ally of the president said earlier that corrupt officials would be jailed “on their own initiative” and would have zero tolerance when allegations came to light.

History of corruption

Ukraine has a long history of corruption and shaky governance, although there have been few examples since last year’s invasion, as Kyiv sought financial and military support from the West to help fight back against Russian forces.

On Sunday, anti-corruption police said they had detained the deputy infrastructure minister for allegedly accepting $400,000 in kickbacks last September to help import generators into wartime Ukraine.

A parliamentary committee on Monday agreed to tighten procurement rules after news reports accused the Defense Department of overpaying suppliers for food for soldiers. A draft law will be presented on the partial disclosure of procurement prices in times of conflict.

The media quoted Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov as saying the reports were based on “technical errors” and that no funds changed hands.

The National Anti-Corruption Agency said it had been informed of media reports that it was investigating possible criminal misappropriation of funds or abuse of power over purchases worth more than 13 billion hryvnia ($352 million).

David Alacamia, chairman of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, said officials had made it clear since the Russian invasion that officials should “focus on the war, help the victims, cut the bureaucracy and stop questionable businesses.” .

“Many of them got the message. But unfortunately, many of them didn’t. We’re definitely going to be aggressively jailed this spring. If the humane approach doesn’t work, we’re going to do it under martial law,” he said.

Former Economy, Trade and Agriculture Minister Timofiy Mylovanov praised the government’s “aggressive and very swift” response to the allegations. He said the deputy infrastructure minister had been summarily sacked, noting that the level of community attention was “unprecedented”.

Ukraine’s economy, which shrank by a third last year, is heavily reliant on Western financial aid, and donors such as the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have repeatedly called for greater transparency and better governance.

($1 = 36.9250 hryvnia)

Reporting by Tom Balmforth and Olena Harmash; Editing by Peter Graff and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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