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Zelenskyy Purges High Ranking Ukrainian Officials Amid Corruption Allegations

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Several high-level Ukrainian officials resigned Tuesday amid corruption allegations, including a deputy defense minister accused of overpaying on a contract for military food rations, according to multiple media reports.

Kyiv said its largest leadership shakeup since Russia’s invasion exactly 11 months ago demonstrated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s desire to root out government corruption, according to Reuters.

Three top ministers, a deputy prosecutor general, a deputy head of the president’s office and a deputy defense minister left their posts Tuesday after Zelenskyy hinted at personnel shifts Monday, and several regional governors also resigned, The New York Times reported.

“Zelenskiyy’s personnel decisions testify to the key priorities of the state,” a senior adviser to the president, Mykhailo Podolyak, wrote on Twitter.

“The President sees and hears society. And he directly responds to a key public demand — justice for all,” Podolyak added.

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Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov was among those booted Tuesday following a local news report alleging he was involved in a defense ministry contract paying inflated prices for military catering services, according to Politico.

The defense ministry allegedly paid two to three times the retail rate for supplies like eggs and potatoes in a $360 million contract on Dec. 23, Ukrainian newspaper Zerkalo Tuzhnia reported on Jan. 21, according to local outlet The New Voice of Ukraine.

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“If one wades through the document, they will see that catering service is specified separately with the cost of UAH 30 million ($820,000) that is about 0.2% of the total contract value, not even 2%,” the newspaper said.

Shapovalov and the defense ministry denied the report but said his removal could help restore trust in the country’s military, which is waging a brutal war with Russia that is exacting a heavy toll on Ukrainian civilians, Reuters reported.

Ukrainian people and the country’s international partners have raised concerns about the government’s history of graft and corruption, according to The Times, although that has not prevented billions in military aid from flowing into Ukraine.

Sapovalov’s departure will ensure the military remains stable and “ensure objectivity during additional clarifications and possible investigations,” the ministry said, according to The New Voice of Ukraine.

Ukraine accepted the resignation of president’s office deputy leader Kyrylo Tymoshenko Tuesday but did not specify the reason for his ouster, Reuters reported.

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Zelenskyy announced a new rule Monday night barring officials from traveling abroad for purposes other than official government business, possibly referring to Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko’s 10-day holiday in Spain over the New Year’s weekend, according to Reuters.

Ukrainians widely criticized the trip while fighting with Russia did not let up.

Symonenko left his post Tuesday “according to his own wish,” the prosecutor general’s office said, according to Reuters.

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