Top officials quit Zelenskyy's government amid anti-corruption push

Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaking at a press conference in Kyiv.
President Zelenskyy has pledged there will be 'no return' to corruption amongst Ukraine's highest office. Credit: AP

Around a dozen Ukrainian government officials have left their positions as part of efforts to root out corruption while the country continues its fight against Russia's invasion.

The deputy head of Ukraine's presidential office was among those to leave, after Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to address high-level corruption allegations.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko asked the Ukraine president to be relieved of his duties, according to an online copy of a decree signed by the latter. No official reason was given for his resignation.

Deputy Defence Minister Viacheslav Shapovalov also resigned, local media reported, alleging his departure was linked to a scandal involving the purchase of food for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

In total, four deputy ministers and five regional governors were set to leave their posts, the country's cabinet secretary said on the Telegram messaging app.

The departures have thinned Kyiv's government with President Zelenskyy already counting the loss of his interior minister and the rest of the ministry's leadership, who all died in a helicopter crash last week.

With Western allies channeling billions of pounds to help Kyiv's fight against Moscow, President Zelenskyy had pledged to weed out corruption, which some observers have described as endemic.

President Zelenskyy, himself, came to power in 2019 on an anti-establishment and anti-corruption platform.

Mr Tymoshenko joined the presidential office in the same year, after working on the Ukraine president's media and creative content strategy, during his presidential campaign.

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In his nightly video address on Sunday, President Zelenskyy said Ukraine's focus on the Russian invasion would not stop his government from tackling alleged corruption.

"I want to be clear: There will be no return to what used to be in the past," he said.

Mr Tymoshenko was under investigation last year, in relation to his personal use of luxury cars.

Last September, he was also among officials linked, by an investigator working with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, to the embezzlement of humanitarian aid worth more than $7 million (£5.7 million) earmarked for the southern Zaporizhzhia region. He has denied all the allegations.

On Sunday, a deputy minister at the infrastructure ministry, Vasyl Lozynsky, was dismissed for being part of a network allegedly embezzling budget funds.

Oleksandr Kubrakov, the infrastructure minister, said Mr Lozynsky was relieved of his duties after Ukraine’s anti-corruption agency detained him while he was receiving a $400,000 (£325,000) bribe for helping to fix contracts related to restoring facilities battered by Russian missile strikes.

News of the government shakeup comes as Poland has formally requested permission from Germany to transfer a number of its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

Germany has said that it will not seek to stop Poland providing the tanks to Kyiv if it asked, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has confirmed that training is already being offered to Ukrainian soldiers on how to drive the Leopards.

According to the dpa news agency, German officials have now received the Polish application, confirming that it would be assessed "with due urgency".

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