Ukrainian government continues its “clean-up” operations: “A few years ago, this kind of transparency would have been unthinkable”

The announcement of their dismissal comes days after Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was replaced by former Tatar MP and businessman Rustom Umerov. Despite his role in negotiations with Ukraine’s allies and receiving billions of dollars in military aid, Reznikov has faced widespread criticism in recent months. Last January, a case of overcharged rations for the army, two to three times the price of basic food items, weakened his position and led to the resignation of his deputy. Reznikov later called the ministry’s anti-corruption mechanisms “They failed in their mission”.

His ministry’s management has again been questioned by several investigative media outlets, which accused him of buying uniforms at inflated prices late last year. In December 2022, the ministry will have concluded a contract with a Turkish company for the purchase of winter uniforms, the price of which was multiplied by three after signing the contract.

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The Ukrainian people will no longer tolerate misbehavior

These latest scandals occurred last August when President Volodymyr Zelensky had already announced the dismissal of all those in charge of regional military recruitment centers after several corruption allegations: in total, some 50,000 people were allegedly bribed. A purge of the recruitment system resulted in the initiation of legal proceedings against about thirty officials.

Despite the criticism, there is no evidence that Reznikov was directly involved in these corruption cases, and his Western counterparts have all praised his work as head of the ministry.However, Mark Sawtchouk, chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) oversight committee, recalled. Does this mean there is no corruption within the ministry? Definitely not. “According to our interlocutor, the minister has paid the price for the growing instability of Ukrainian society with the determination that corruption will no longer be tolerated while the country is in the grip of an existential war. “LThere was no choice but to replace Reznikov”, assesses Savtchouk.

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Reforms in full swing under European influence

The pace of reforms has increased significantly since the beginning of the invasion, Yaroslav Yuvartchishin, a deputy of the “Holos” (“Voice”) party and former executive director of the NGO Transparency International in Ukraine, confirms this before listing the progress of recent months: the preventive arrest of the former president of the Supreme Court, convicted. Corruption; Transferring to the Ministry of Defense an investigation into fraud and money laundering targeting oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who supported Volodymyr Zelensky during his victorious 2019 election campaign.All of this is happening while the country is at war, under pressure from Ukrainian civil society and pressure from Ukraine’s Western partners.”, Mr. Iourtchyshyn believes.

The fight against corruption and money laundering and taking measures to counter the influence of oligarchs are indeed creating the conditions. No So that Ukraine can join the EU. “It took years to build a new anti-corruption infrastructure, and today the main actors of corruption are finally being brought to justice.Welcome to Savtchouk. Ukraine is determined to continue its reforms with a view to joining the European Union.

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Local corruption practices

However, he acknowledges that the country still has a long way to go to rid itself of corruption, a problem that has persisted since the fall of the Soviet Union. Despite progress in recent years, Ukraine ranks 116th out of 180 countries in the annual corruption index published by Transparency International. According to Yourtchyshyn, despite recent progress, the current government bears some responsibility for this poor ranking: “Zelensky was elected thanks to his stance against corruption, and he took steps in this direction at the beginning of his mandate.Deputy recalled. But after 2020, this process stalled, and scandals targeting those around him multiplied.

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A recent government proposal aimed at consolidating wartime corruption cases into “high treason” has fueled the concern of Ukrainian civil society: it plans to remove the institutions responsible for the fight against corruption of the investigation once the estimated damage exceeds 24. million hryvnias, or about 600,000 euros, to be handed over to the Ukrainian security services, the SBU. The move would allow the SBU, an agency that operates in an opaque manner and answers directly to the president, to intervene in investigations targeting members of the government. “I have been an anti-corruption activist for a long time and I can tell you that our country is not perfectMark Savtchouk agreed. People can speak out, investigative journalists do their job, even people close to the president are fired. “A sign of the very rapid changes that Ukrainian society is experiencing, for him:”A few years ago, this kind of transparency would have been unthinkable.

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