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10 Nov, 2023 13:26

Ukraine is not one of world’s most corrupt countries – Ukraine

President Vladimir Zelensky is personally clean and does not tolerate graft, his chief-of-staff Andrey Yermak has claimed
Ukraine is not one of world’s most corrupt countries – Ukraine

Claims of widespread corruption in Ukraine, including among its leadership, are a false “Russian narrative,” the head of President Vladimir Zelensky’s office proclaimed in an interview on Friday.

“Ukraine is not the world’s most corrupt nation or one of the most corrupt. This is not true,” Andrey Yermak said, when asked by journalist Natalia Mosiychuk whether the problem had been brought up by Kiev’s foreign sponsors.

Yermak maintained that the country’s leadership was graft-free and that Zelensky personally had no tolerance for it in his inner circle.

“You know for sure that neither the president nor I am corrupt,” he said.

“I believe no one, unless they are paid to spread someone’s fake news, would call our president corrupt,” Yermak claimed.

Zelensky was a successful and popular entrepreneur before he ran for president, and went into politics because he did not like the system, his associate said. He brought into his government many friends from his entertainment business, but according to Yermak, Zelensky would not treat anyone as untouchable or tolerate someone who does not share his principles.

The head of state pushes law enforcement officials to investigate all cases of suspected graft thoroughly, Yermak insisted.

The Zelensky government has been rocked by several major corruption scandals, including in the Defense Ministry. A recent profile of the Ukrainian leader in Time magazine described the firing of Minister Aleksey Reznikov, a close Zelensky ally, from his position in September as coming “too late.”

The president was warned about a looming scandal over procurement of overpriced food for troops in February, but failed to act, giving “his allies multiple chances to deal with the problems quietly or explain them away,” the report said. He moved to replace the minister ahead of a visit to the US, but by that moment “Reznikov’s eggs” inflicted reputational damage to Ukraine, both on the frontline and in foreign capitals.

At lower levels, Ukrainian officials are “stealing like there’s no tomorrow,” an anonymous Zelensky aide was quoted by Time as saying. Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba called the statement “untrue” and urged people to trust the EU’s assessment that Kiev was successfully fighting corruption.

Western politicians opposing continued funding for Ukraine while it fights Russia have cited graft as one of the reasons for their reluctance. In the US the issue has led to a crisis on Capitol Hill, with some House Republicans refusing to allocate more money. The White House has tried to bundle its request for Ukraine funds with Israel aid to overcome the resistance, but has so far failed.