Say it ain't so. A corruption scandal in Ukraine

Say it ain't so. A corruption scandal in Ukraine
Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

There’s been a serious shake-up in the upper echelons of the Ukrainian government this week, reaching all the way to the office of Volodymyr Zelenskyyyyy. (Or however many y’s we’re supposed to be using this week.) At least four high-ranking officials in Kyiv have either resigned or been dismissed amidst an ongoing corruption investigation that somehow has failed to generate a lot of headlines in the United States. The people involved have mostly been accused of lining their own pockets with money that should have gone to aid the public during the war. Of course, if you read the way the Associated Press covered this story, you would think that Zelensky himself was the anti-corruption crusader rooting all of these rats out of their hiding places. But does that really sound very plausible?

The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office quit Tuesday, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to launch a staff shake-up amid high-level corruption allegations during the war with Russia.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko asked to be relieved of his duties, according to an online copy of a decree signed by Zelenskyy and Tymoshenko’s own social media posts.

Neither gave a reason for the resignation.

The first name on the list should have raised some immediate red flags. Kyrylo Tymoshenko was the deputy head of Zelensky’s presidential office. He had previously been linked to “the embezzlement of humanitarian aid worth more than $7 million.” That money was supposed to go toward feeding people in areas battered harshly during the Russian attacks, but it disappeared. (It should go without saying that much of that cash came from American taxpayers.) That much loot disappeared from right inside of Zelensky’s own office and he knew nothing about it?

Deputy Defense Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned over the disappearance of money that was supposed to feed Ukraine’s troops. Deputy Prosecutor General Oleksiy Symonenko also hit the bricks for unspecified reasons.

As noted above, however, the AP is making Zelensky out to be the hero. They describe how “Zelenskyy vowed to drive out corrupt officials in comments on Sunday when a deputy minister was dismissed for being part of a network embezzling budget funds. Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry later identified the dismissed official as Vasyl Lozynsky, a deputy minister there.”

So Zelensky is driving out corrupt officials (again, from his own office) that were “part of a network embezzling budget funds.” This has reportedly been going on since before the Russian invasion began. I realize that the guy has been a bit busy with the war and all, but if there was an entire “network” embezzling money in the capital for that long, either he knew about it or he’s too incompetent to be running a lemonade stand, to say nothing of a government.

Of course, Zelensky has been “driving people out” for a while now. Before the invasion, he locked up his chief political opponent. He also shut down media outlets that reported on his administration in a critical fashion. (Such as reporting on the money that had gone missing, for example.)

In any event, please feel free to tell me once again how the people in Washington (few though they may be) who are calling for a full accounting of all of the money and material we’ve sent to Ukraine are engaging in “conspiracy theories.” How insulting, right? How dare anyone question where our money went? The whole system in Ukraine is clearly as pure as the driven snow.

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