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1 Mar, 2024 22:22

Ukraine accuses ex-MP arms dealer of ‘corruption’

Sergey Pashinsky has slammed his trial as interfering with arming the military
Ukraine accuses ex-MP arms dealer of ‘corruption’

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s government has arrested former lawmaker Sergey Pashinsky and charged him with defrauding the state, the New York Times has reported.

The charges are not related to Pashinsky’s arms dealing business, but he said they have harmed his effort to get weapons for Kiev’s forces.

Pashinsky and five other men were charged last month, in a “convoluted fuel-buying scheme” that allegedly cost the Ukrainian government about $25 million.

Earlier this week, the High Anti-Corruption Court in Kiev set Pashinsky’s bail at over $7 million. It was posted by an arms trade industry group he leads.

“I am deeply ashamed that funds meant for weapon production were used as bail for me on false charges,” the businessman said in a Facebook post.

Pashinsky has been described by the Times as a “central” player in Ukraine’s effort to buy weapons for the conflict with Russia. Ukrainian Armored Technology, a company “tied” to him, has become Ukraine’s biggest private arms supplier.

Prosecutors have told the court that the government has found evidence that Pashinsky actually controls UAT, which he has denied. The charges against him are not related to the weapons business, however, but go several years back.

Pashinsky is a veteran of Ukrainian politics. During the ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004, he worked for Victor Yushchenko’s presidential campaign, and later advised Yulia Tymoshenko. He long represented a Zhitomyr district in the Ukrainian legislature, the Verkhovna Rada.

Following the 2014 US-backed coup in Kiev, Pashinsky became chief of staff to acting president Aleksandr Turchinov (March 5 – June 10), returning to parliament after Pyotr Poroshenko became president. He turned to private enterprise in 2019, after he lost reelection to a candidate from Zelensky’s newly formed ‘Servant of the People’ party.

Zelensky called him out personally for alleged corruption and crime that year. “Go out on the streets and ask whether Pashinsky is a criminal,” Zelensky said at the time. “I guarantee you that out of 100 people, 100 will say that he is a criminal.”

Zelensky’s government has launched several high-profile prosecutions to show its Western backers that it is rooting out corruption and deserves billions more in military aid. However, Kiev has also suspended multiple anti-corruption measures in order to speed up procurement for the military.