Ukrainian oil tycoon’s home raided in anti-corruption sweep | News about the Russian-Ukrainian war

Ukraine is taking a hard line against corruption as it continues negotiations to join the European Union.

Ukrainian authorities have raided the home of a powerful billionaire in what an ally of the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is touting as a sweeping war on corruption that will transform the country.

Igor Kolomoisky held stakes in two oil companies, Ukrnafta and Ukrtatnafta, which were seized under martial law last November after Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said it uncovered the embezzlement of more than $1 billion.

“Any criminal who has the audacity to harm Ukraine, especially in the conditions of war, should clearly understand that we will put handcuffs on his hands,” the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Vasyl Malyuk, said on the SBU’s Telegram channel.

Separate actions were carried out at the tax office and at the home of Arsen Avakov, who led the Ukrainian police as interior minister from 2014-2021.

The SBU said it was cracking down on “people whose actions harm the security of the state in various spheres” and promised more details in the next few days.

Kolomoisky, who is currently facing a fraud case in the US, has been at the center of corruption allegations and litigation for years, which Western aid donors say must be resolved if Kyiv is to continue receiving support.

Many also doubt whether Zelensky will act against Kolomoisky after he became famous in a sitcom on his TV station.

David Arahamiya, a senior member of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, confirmed the search of Kolomoisky’s home as well as the separate raids.

Arahamia said the entire management of the customs service would be fired and senior officials from the defense ministry had been served with notices informing them that they were suspects in the case.

“The country will change during the war. If someone is not ready for change, then the state itself will come and help him change,” Arahamia wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

In a statement, the attorney general’s office later said “corruption in wartime is robbery.”

leaders of Ukraine and the EU
The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and the President of the European Council Charles Michel [Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters]

Shaking up the government

Ukraine’s long-running fight against corruption has taken on vital importance as Russia’s invasion has made Kyiv heavily dependent on Western support and it must carry out reforms to join the 27-member EU.

The raids come days before a European Union summit where Ukraine is expected to seek concrete steps to join the 27-nation bloc.

In Zelensky’s address on Tuesday evening, he discussed additional anti-corruption measures that will come into force.

“We are preparing new reforms in Ukraine. Reforms that will change the social, legal and political reality in many ways, making it more humane, transparent and efficient,” he said.

In 2021, Ukraine ranked 122 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s corruption index.

Last week, more than a dozen senior officials were removed from their posts following a series of scandals and corruption allegations in the biggest shakeup of Ukraine’s government since the war.

With the influx of Western funds, Zelensky, who came to office promising to fight corruption before the invasion began, hopes to clean up the country’s image.

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