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10 Aug, 2023 09:44

Zelensky pledges to purge his own MPs

The “old habits” of crooked officials have weakened the country for decades, the Ukrainian president has said
Zelensky pledges to purge his own MPs

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has signaled that he is about to embark on a crusade against the nation’s corrupt lawmakers and officials after a string of graft scandals.

In a Tuesday video address, Zelensky said that he wanted to “cleanse” Ukraine, which he said needs to undergo a transformation. “This means that those who work for their own benefit, not for the sake of Ukraine, will not hold public office or be Ukrainian MPs,” he stated, adding that “any such dealmaker will at least stand trial.”

The Ukrainian president also raised the issue of corruption last week when he vowed to continue efforts to kick officials out of public institutions who “tried to drag from the past old habits, old schemes that have weakened Ukraine… for decades.”

“No matter, who this person is – whether he is a ‘military commissar’, a deputy, or an official – everyone must work only for the sake of the state,” Zelensky stressed, saying efforts toward that end would begin as early as this month.

By mentioning commissars, the Ukrainian leader was apparently alluding to a recent controversy in which authorities conducted raids in 11 Ukrainian regions and uncovered a massive conspiracy scheme that allegedly focused on issuing fraudulent medical certificates at the price of around $6,000 to those seeking to avoid conscription.

The searches came after Ukrainian law enforcement agents arrested Evgeny Borisov, a former senior conscription officer in Odessa Region, who has been accused of illicit enrichment to the tune of millions of dollars.

Ukraine has been plagued by rampant corruption for years despite repeated efforts by the country’s authorities to combat it. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception index, as of 2022, the country ranked 116th out of 180. Meanwhile, a poll by Center for Insights in Survey Research conducted in 2021, before the start of hostilities between Moscow and Kiev, found that Ukrainians considered graft in state institutions to be the most pressing problem facing the country.

The issue is also a concern for Western nations furnishing economic and military aid to Kiev. In late July, the US State Department released a report saying that “corruption in the Ukrainian government and private sector poses risks to the effectiveness of US foreign assistance over the longer run.”