Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vasyl Lozinskyi was arrested and fired after state anti-corruption investigators and prosecutors in Ukraine accused him of embezzling $400,000 (£320,000) meant to purchase supplies, notably generators.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine swore when the news broke that the corrupt practices of the past would never be tolerated again.
Without mentioning the case by name, Zelenskiy said in his Sunday night address, “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.”
Ukraine’s anti-corruption organizations allege that Lozinskyi conspired with contractors to inflate the price of generators and stole a portion of the proceeds. Several other high-ranking national and regional officials have also been implicated. The Ukrainian government spent 1.68 billion hryvnias (about £36.7 million) on products and technology in the summer to prepare for winter by diversifying the country’s electricity, water, and heat supplies.
These items were purchased in anticipation of a possible Russian assault on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, as Russia has been doing regularly since September.
Sunday saw Lozinskyi’s detention at the hands of anti-corruption authorities.
“Ukraine’s deputy infrastructure minister, Vasyl Lozinskyi, has been detained and dismissed from his post for allegedly stealing $400,000 (£320,000) intended for purchasing aid, including generators” https://t.co/TzuzDua39X
— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) January 23, 2023
They released a statement claiming to have discovered $38,000 in cash in Lozinskyi’s office, along with a picture of the stacked US dollar bills and Ukrainian hryvnia. Lozinskyi lost his government job on Sunday. There has been no response from him to the accusations.
Corruption scandals were a regular part of Ukrainian politics before the conflict. According to Transparency International, the country is extremely corrupt, ranking 122 out of 180 in 2021. As a condition for EU membership, the EU has made anti-corruption reforms a priority for Ukraine.
As a result of the war, when everyone’s attention was on the war effort, there were much fewer cases of corruption reported. But journalists have returned to scrutinizing the elites in recent months.
The deputy chairman of Zelenskiy’s party (called Servant of the People after the name of his TV show), Pavlo Halimon, was also fired on Monday for corruption allegations to which he has not responded. On Monday morning, the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainska Pravda released an inquiry into his purchase of a Kyiv house for more than he said he could afford.
David Arakhamia, leader of Zelenskiy’s party, demanded an investigation into the incident and fired Hamilton, claiming that the latter’s behavior ran counter to the party’s principles.
You should aid your country if you are a [MP] with a spare million hryvnias. This, Arakhamia emphasized, is your responsibility.
An inquiry into the defense ministry’s food procurement was published this week by another Ukrainian magazine, ZN.UA, putting Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, in the limelight. The article alleged that the military was overcharged for food contracts.
Reznikov, on the other hand, has refuted the allegations and demanded that a parliamentary committee be formed to look into the matter. Reznikov posits that the cost discrepancy is partly due to the fact that some vendors specialize in supplying strategic locations at a premium.
In his nighttime speech on Sunday, Zelenskiy, who was elected on a commitment to alter the way Ukraine was governed in 2019, also announced that an announcement on the subject of corruption would be made 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.”