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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Ukraine Deputy Minister Sacked for Alleged Theft of $400000

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Ukraine Deputy Minister Sacked for Alleged Theft of $400000 – Vasyl Lozinskyi, Ukraine’s deputy infrastructure minister, has been arrested and removed from his position for reportedly embezzling $400,000 in funds meant for aid purchases, such as generators, as reported by Ukraine’s anti-corruption law enforcement agencies. In response to the news, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy pledged that corruption would not be tolerated in Ukraine.

“I want this to be clear: 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 (a state position) used to live,” said Zelenskiy in his nightly address on Sunday without specifically mentioning the case. According to Ukraine’s anti-corruption bodies, Lozinskyi allegedly conspired with contractors to artificially inflate the cost of generators and embezzled a portion of the profits. 

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Additionally, other government officials are believed to have been involved in the scheme. In the summer, the Ukrainian government allocated 1.68 billion hryvnia (about £36.7 million) for equipment and technology to provide alternative energy, water, and heat sources for citizens during the winter. The items were purchased to ready Ukraine in the event that Russia carried out attacks on its energy infrastructure, as it has done repeatedly since September.

Anti-corruption investigators detained Lozinskyi on Saturday and announced that they discovered $38,000 in cash in his office, releasing a photo of the money. As a result, Lozinskyi was removed from his government position on Sunday. He has yet to make a statement regarding the accusations. Prior to the war, corruption was a frequent occurrence in Ukraine’s political scene and the country was considered one of the most corrupt in the world, with a ranking of 122 out of 180 on Transparency International’s corruption index. 

The EU has made addressing corruption a key condition for Ukraine’s potential membership. During and immediately following the war, instances of corruption were reported less frequently as society’s attention was directed towards the war effort. In more recent times, journalists have resumed their examination of the actions and conduct of those in positions of power. Pavlo Halimon, deputy head of Zelenskiy’s party – named after his TV show, Servant of the People – was also dismissed on Monday because of corruption allegations, which he has not responded to. 

Ukrainian news site Ukrainska Pravda published an investigation on Monday morning into his purchase of a Kyiv property for more than his declared means. The head of Zelenskiy’s party, Davyd Arakhamia, called for the matter to be investigated and dismissed Hamilon, saying his actions contradicted the values of the party. “If you are an (MP) and have a few extra million hryvnias, then you should help your country. This is your duty,” said Arakhamia.

Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, also found himself in the spotlight this week after another Ukrainian publication, ZN.UA, published an investigation into food procurement by the defence ministry. It claimed that food contracts for the army were being inflated. But Reznikov has denied the claims and has insisted a parliamentary committee be established to investigate. 

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According to Reznikov, the price difference can be explained, in part, by deliveries to frontline areas and in part because different suppliers have different specialities. Zelenskiy, who was elected on a pledge to change the way Ukraine was governed in 2019, also said in his nightly speech on Sunday there would be an announcement on the issue of corruption this week. “This week will be the time for appropriate decisions,” Zelenskiy said. “The decisions have already been prepared. I do not want to make them public at this time, but it will all be fair.”

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