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Ukraine’s deputy defense minister resigns amid corruption inquiry

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov resigned on Tuesday in the wake of a major procurement scandal that has rocked the country’s political establishment.

Shapovalov, who oversaw logistical support for the army, tendered his resignation following a scandal involving the purchase of military rations at inflated prices.

In his resignation letter, the minister asked to be dismissed in order “not to pose a threat to the stable supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a result of a campaign of accusations related to the purchase of food services.”

An exposé from the Ukrainian news website ZN.UA revealed last week that the defense ministry purchased overpriced food supplies for its troops. For instance, the ministry bought eggs at 17 hryvnias per piece, while the average price of an egg in Kyiv is around 7 hryvnias. According to ZN.UA, a contract for food procurement for soldiers in 2023 amounted to 13.16 billion hryvnias (€328 million).

On Monday, a statement from Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov dismissed the inflated prices as a “technical error” by the contractor, claiming that it “made a mistake while transferring data from one table to another.”

The minister labeled the news report as “nothing but manipulations” and announced a security service inquiry to find out who leaked details of the contract. However, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine had announced it was investigating the catering contract before journalists published their investigation.

These revelations come as a severe blow as Kyiv’s officials have been trying to show that the nation is improving its record on corruption in a bid to make headway in the EU’s accession process.

“Ukraine is of course expected to further strengthen the fight against corruption, in particular at a high level through proactive and effective investigations, and a credible track record of prosecutions and convictions,” a spokesperson for the European Commission said.

Other senior figures from the Ukrainian government resigned or were dismissed this week. On Tuesday, Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin dismissed his deputy Oleksiy Symonenko after he took a vacation in Spain in late 2022.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also dismissed Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of his office, although no official reason has been given. Ukrainian media reported last week that Tymoshenko was in conflict with other officials including his superior Andriy Yermak.

Deputy Infrastructure Minister Vasyl Lozynskiy was also recently fired amid allegations related to the public purchase of electricity generators.