Ukraine Removes Top Government Officials – After Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a staff shake-up during his Monday, January 23rd nightly address, a series of major resignations from the government in Kyiv were announced on Tuesday.
The resignations are understood to be part of the biggest anti-corruption sweep in Kyiv since the Russian invasion began and come after the Ukrainian president promised Western leaders that he would clamp down on corruption in his country.
Who Resigned in Ukraine?
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry announced on Telegram that Deputy Minister of Defense Vyacheslav Shapovalov would leave his post. Shapovalov was accused of inflating the price of food sent to soldiers on the battlefield, with reports suggesting that he may have paid up to three times more than necessary. Shapovalov used his authority to oversee the logistical support of the Ukrainian military.
According to the Telegram post, the former minister requested to be fired so that he did not “create threats to the stable support of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” Despite the resignation, however, Shapovalov denied the accusations.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, also resigned on Monday but did not offer a reason for his resignation. Ukrainian media reports, however, revealed in 2022 that Tymoshenko was using a Chevrolet Tahoe vehicle that had been donated to Ukraine for the purpose of evacuating civilians.
A total of four deputy ministers, as well as five regional governors, were fired or resigned this week.
Saving Face Or Doing Good?
Zelenskyy confirmed plans on Monday evening to make personnel changes after promising on Sunday, January 22, that he would not tolerate corruption in Kyiv.
“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 used to live,” Zelenskyy said last week.
The Ukrainian president promised that he would do more to tackle corruption following a series of high-profile cases, though could open himself up to criticism for acting too late. Zelenskyy may be acting in good faith, though by taking action only after the European Union pressed Ukraine to do more about corruption as a pre-requisite for eventually joining the European Union could feed anti-Ukraine sentiments in Europe and beyond.
That being said, Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on the basis of reforming the country and ending Soviet-era practices within government.
This week’s resignations may be late, but at least they came.
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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.