Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Tuesday he would tolerate no corruption or treachery in affairs of state while his country is struggling to find the means to defend itself against Russian invaders.
Zelenskyy made anti-corruption appeals in his nightly video address as two landmark cases came to light – the arrests of a military recruitment official accused of mass embezzlement and of a parliamentarian accused of collaborating with Russia.
The president last month announced plans to audit military draft offices to try to eliminate corruption.
That measure was part of longstanding policy to clean up the military and government departments to show Ukraine‘s Western supporters he was serious about tackling deep-rooted graft, measures that are a main element in the long process of securing European Union membership.
Ordinary Ukrainians who support the war effort were enraged by corrupt practices, Zelenskyy said.
“Let me warn all members of parliament, officials and everyone working as a civil servant,” he said.
“When you spend days on end looking for weapons for the country, when everyone’s attention is fixed on whether there is artillery, missiles and drones, you feel the moral strength our soldiers have given Ukraine.
“No one will forgive members of parliament, judges, military officials or any other officials for placing themselves in opposition to the state.”
Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022 and since then the war has killed thousands of civilians and military personnel, displaced millions and pulverised Ukrainian cities.
Zelenskyy, addressing members of parliament, said he would no longer tolerate those who “because of some sort of personal gain” refuse to back legislation needed for Ukraine to begin its long campaign to secure EU membership.
“I no longer want to see any such refusals,” he said. “No one wants to see that. Ukraine has no more time for that.”
Earlier, legal authorities said the head of a military recruitment centre in southern Ukraine accused of corruption and embezzlement had been ordered held in pre-trial detention, with bail set at the equivalent of just over $4 million.
Ukraine‘s National Agency on Corruption Prevention said Yevhen Borysov, head of the military recruitment office in Odesa, stood accused of acquiring without explanation funds equivalent to a little more than $5 million.
Ukrainian media had reported in recent months on how his family had acquired property in Spain.
Novikov told a news conference that initial investigation showed that Borysov had acquired large sums through loans from business partners while Ukraine was being subjected to daily Russian shelling.
And the prosecutor general’s office said parliamentarian Oleksandr Ponomaryov, suspected of collaborating with Russia in the occupied southeast, had been arrested pending trial on treason charges.
Ponomaryov, a lawmaker elected for a now-banned party accused of ties to Russia, was placed in detention without bail by Kyiv’s Pechersk district court.
He has denied collaborating with Russia in the past.