The campaign against corruption has become more intense for Ukrainian authorities. There were numerous high-profile searches and layoffs in the beginning of February.

The largest Ukrainian oil and gas producer, Ukrnafta, and pipeline operator Ukrtransnafta’s former management are accused of embezzling 40 billion Ukrainian hryvnia (about €980 million/$1 billion today), according to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which revealed that it had searched the home of oligarch Ihor Kolomoiskiy. Kolomoiskiy owned stock in both of the partially state-owned businesses that were last year completely nationalised as a result of martial law in Ukraine.

The State Bureau of Investigation (DBR) of Ukraine further disclosed that a previous minister of energy and the coal sector is also under suspicion for corruption. The suspect, according to Ukrainian media agencies, is Ihor Nasalyk. He is charged with signing agreements that benefited businesses connected to Dmytro Firtash, a longtime resident of Austria and a Ukrainian oligarch. According to reports, the illegal transactions cost Ukraine 1.5 billion hryvnia (around €35 million/$37 million).

In addition, the homes of Arsen Avakov, a former interior minister, were searched by the SBU and the DBR. He has already admitted that the search was tied to the Brovary (a suburb of Kiev) helicopter crash, which claimed the lives of 10 persons, including Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky. The purchase agreements established with the Interior Ministry for Airbus helicopters with the model number H225 piqued the interest of the authorities in particular.

A Ukrainian legislator who was a member of the now-banned pro-Russian group Opposition Platform — For Life regulated construction enterprises with offices in Kyiv. The media has reportedly reported on searches of locations connected to representatives from those firms. The Kyiv Finance Ministry was also searched at the same time by the DBR. Authorities claimed to have found millions of dollars’ worth of schemes there as well.

Former workers at the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine have also been the subject of searches. A previous department head at the ministry was also named as suspected of embezzling unusually substantial sums of money in addition to other wrongdoings, according to the prosecutor general’s office.

It is also believed that a former deputy defence minister engaged in illicit activity. He is charged with impeding the efforts of the Ukrainian military and other military organisations at crucial times. Investigators assert that the suspect used his influence to sign contracts that resulted in the military receiving meals at exorbitant costs and in the procurement of subpar bulletproof vests, helmets, uniforms, and other equipment.

The State Customs Service of Ukraine and several other organisations had nearly all of its top officers sacked while investigators were conducting searches.

In a speech to the country, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated his satisfaction with the investigations. “In some areas, lawfulness can only be secured when the implementation of institutional changes is carried out concurrently with changes in leadership,” he added.

Political scientist and head of the Penta Center for Applied Political Studies Volodymyr Fesenko believes that President Zelenskyy may accomplish two goals by leading a highly publicised campaign against corruption.

“One of the largest marches against corruption has been this one. This occurred right before the EU summit in Kyiv in February, which is no coincidence. One requirement for Ukraine’s integration into Europe, according to Fesenko, is for anti-corruption measures to produce noticeable results.

Fesenko advises examining the companies that conducted the searches critically. These organisations consist of the SBU, DBR, and Bureau of Economic Security, the latter of which reports to the attorney general. Even while the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) are more independent and ought to likewise play a proactive role in corruption investigations, Fasenko notes that all of those organisations actively collaborate with the president’s office.

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