The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office resigned on Tuesday after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed to initiate a personnel change amid allegations of high-level corruption during the war with Russia.
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. Neither gave a reason for the resignation.
Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned, local media reported, citing a scandal surrounding the purchase of food for the Ukrainian armed forces. Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko also resigned.
A total of four deputy ministers and five regional governors would leave their posts, the country’s cabinet secretary said on the Telegram messaging app.
With Western allies pouring billions of dollars into Ukraine to aid Kiev in its fight against Moscow, Zelensky had pledged to stamp out corruption, which some observers say is endemic. Zelenskyy came to power in 2019 on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform.
Tymoshenko joined the presidential office in 2019, having worked on Zelenskyy’s media and creative content strategy during his presidential campaign.
Last year, he was under investigation for his personal use of luxury cars. He was also one of several officials linked last September to the misappropriation of more than $7 million in humanitarian aid destined for the southern Zaporizhzhia region. He has denied all allegations.
On Sunday, a deputy minister was fired for being part of a network that embezzled budget funds. Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry later identified the fired official as Vasyl Lozynsky, a deputy minister there.
Oleksandr Kubrakov, the infrastructure minister, said Lozynsky was relieved of his duties after Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency detained him while receiving a $400,000 bribe for helping to resolve contracts related to restoring infrastructure facilities battered by Russian rocket attacks.
In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s focus on the war would not deter his government from cracking down on corruption.
“I want to be clear: there will be no return to what used to be,” Zelensky said.
The fight against corruption is vital if Ukraine is to continue its application for membership of the European Union. To gain EU membership, countries must meet a series of detailed economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles.
Last June, the European Union agreed on Thursday to help Ukraine move towards EU membership, acting with unusual speed and unity to move the embattled country further away from Russia’s influence and tie it more closely to the West.
Ukraine has long aspired to join NATO as well, but the military alliance is about to offer an invitation, in part because of the country’s corruption, deficiencies in its defense apparatus and disputed borders.