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President Zelenskyy shakes Ukraine’s cabinet over corruption allegations

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy pays his respects to the victims of a fatal helicopter crash during a farewell ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday January 21, 2023.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP

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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy pays his respects to the victims of a fatal helicopter crash during a farewell ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday January 21, 2023.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Kyiv, Ukraine – A spate of resignations, dismissals and transfers rocked the Ukrainian government on Monday and Tuesday, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other government leaders confirmed restructuring of senior posts.

Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov handed in a handwritten resignation a day after a news report accused his office of corruption. The report accused Shapovalov of using ministry funds to buy food and winter tactical gear at above-average prices, a claim Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov denies.

“Despite the fact that the allegations are unfounded and unfounded, Viacheslav Shapovalov’s resignation request stands in the tradition of European and democratic politics, proof that the interests of defense are higher than any cabinet office,” Reznikov wrote in the confirmation of the resignation.

Meanwhile, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior Zelenskyy aide, also submitted a handwritten resignation to the president late Monday. Zelenskyy confirmed Tymoshenko’s dismissal early Tuesday in a one-line order without giving any reason.

As the war progressed, Tymoshenko formed a circle of young Zelenskyi advisers who rose to prominent status in Ukraine, posting frequently on social media and making upbeat television appearances. Since Russia escalated its airstrikes on Ukrainian utilities in October, Tymoshenko has become the government’s chief coordinator for rebuilding infrastructure and managing civilian humanitarian efforts.

Tymoshenko’s resignation comes days after another popular Zelenskyi aide, Oleksiy Arestovych, resigned from his post for spreading misinformation about who was responsible for an airstrike on an apartment building collapse on January 14 that killed 46 civilians in of the city of Dnipro were killed.

In his nightly address on Monday, Zelenskyy said: “We have already made staffing decisions – some today, some tomorrow – regarding officials at various levels in ministries and other central government bodies, in the regions and in the law enforcement system.”

He also banned Ukrainian officials from leaving the country after social media posts showed Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko vacationing in Spain. Under Ukrainian martial law, men of military age are prohibited from leaving Ukraine without express permission. Symonenko’s superiors confirmed his dismissal on Tuesday morning.

The series of dismissals comes as allegations of wartime misconduct have mounted in Ukraine and renewed pre-war concerns about endemic corruption in the country. On Monday, the deputy infrastructure minister lost his job after being arrested on bribery charges.

Tymofiy Mylovanov, Ukraine’s former economy minister, said Ukraine has taken extensive steps to fight corruption. in one tweetMylovanov said recent corruption scandals have been “episodic” rather than “systemic,” European officials have claimed.

But Daria Kaleniuk, the head of the Anti-Corruption Action Center of Ukraine, says Ukraine’s commitment to transparency should extend to the entire government, regardless of the current martial law regime.

“I want to thank the law enforcement officers who protect the law and the interests of the state and deliver justice! Thank you to the journalists who deal with all the facts and create the full picture!” Zelenskyy said after the scandals surfaced on Sunday.

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