Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy  pays his respects
Image Source : AP Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pays his respects to victims of a deadly helicopter crash during a farewell ceremony in Kyiv.

Russia-Ukraine war: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday fired top officials from his ministry amid high-level corruption allegations during the war with Russia. The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office quit without citing any reasons. But the local media reports claimed that the official was involved in high-level corruption.  

Kyrylo Tymoshenko asked to be relieved of his duties, according to an online copy of a decree signed by Zelenskyy and Tymoshenko’s own social media posts.

Deputy Defence Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned, local media reported, alleging his departure was linked to a scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko also quit. Tymoshenko joined the presidential office in 2019, after working on Zelenskyy’s media and creative content strategy during his presidential campaign.

Zelenskyy fired had fired other top officials last year 

Zelenskyy had promised personnel changes in the government, regional administrations and security forces following corruption allegations that emerged after Russia’s invasion last February.

Tymoshenko last year was under investigation relating to his personal use of luxury cars. He was also among officials linked last September to the embezzlement of humanitarian aid worth more than USD 7 million earmarked for the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

He has denied all the allegations. Zelenskyy vowed to drive out corrupt officials in comments on Sunday, when a deputy minister was dismissed for being part of a network embezzling budget funds. Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry later identified the dismissed official as Vasyl Lozynsky, a deputy minister there.

 “Would not stop action against tackling corruption”

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine’s focus on the war would not stop his government from tackling corruption. Zelenskyy, who came to power in 2019 on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform, pointed to suspicions in the areas of energy and military procurement. He said he intended the deputy minister’s dismissal to send “a signal to all those whose actions or behaviour violate the principle of justice.” “I want to be clear: There will be no return to what used to be in the past,” Zelenskyy said.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, the infrastructure minister, said Lozynsky was relieved of his duties after Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency detained him while he was receiving a USD 400,000 bribe for helping to fix contracts related to restoring infrastructure facilities battered by Russian missile strikes. A statement by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine described Lozynsky as part of “an organised criminal group involved in the embezzlement of budget funds.” It said its detectives were working to identify the group’s other members.

(With inputs from AP)

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