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Ukraine announces new round of anti-corruption measures


KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian officials announced high-profile searches, firings and investigations on Wednesday just ahead of an E.U. summit, in what appears to be the second round in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s ongoing campaign to crack down on the corruption that could undermine support for his country.

The anti-corruption measures take place two days before Ukraine prepares to host a summit with the European Union in Kyiv, which Ukrainian officials hope will bolster their bid to become a full member of the political and economic bloc.

In his regular evening address on Tuesday, Zelensky said officials were “preparing new reforms” that would “change the social, legal and political reality in many ways, making it more human, transparent and effective,” adding that “details will be announced later.”

Top Ukrainian officials ousted in anti-corruption sweep

The 27-member bloc is broadly supportive of Ukraine, but it is divided on just how fast the war-torn, impoverished country will join its club and has set forth bureaucratic measures as conditions of joining.

Ukrainian officials did not say if Wednesday’s events were part of the president’s reform program, but they follow more than 10 high-level dismissals last week, which included Zelensky’s deputy chief of staff, a deputy defense minister, deputy prosecutor general and a number of prominent heads of regional administration.

At the time, those firings were described by officials as only the beginning and were in response to long-standing internal complaints about corruption. They were also likely in response to concerns of the Republican Party that recently took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and has raised questions about the scope of U.S. aid to Ukraine.

“It is clearly a signal of their determination and of the functioning of what they have now put in place,” said an E.U. official on Wednesday about the earlier dismissals, while speaking on the condition of anonymity to brief the press.

Last week’s dismissals appeared to be connected to recent allegations of corruption revealed by the media, including an investigation into inflated prices in a food procurement contract for the Defense Ministry.

Details of the latest moves emerged Wednesday when David Arakhamia, leader of Zelensky’s party in parliament and a close adviser to the president, said on his Telegram channel that properties belonging to billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky and former interior minister Arsen Avakov had been searched.

Arakhamia also said that “notes of suspicion,” indicating the opening of an investigation, had been delivered to top officials in the country’s Defense Ministry, in addition to tax offices being searched and the entire management of the country’s customs service dismissed.

Describing the actions as “spring landings,” Arakhamia said that Ukraine “will change during the war.”

“If someone is not ready for change, then the state itself will come and help them change,” he added.

Avakov, whose premises were searched, acknowledged the investigation in a statement Wednesday and said it was in connection with a helicopter crash earlier this month in Kyiv.

The crash killed Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and other top officials. Avakov said that officials from Ukraine’s State Security Service and State Bureau of Investigation were interested in details of the purchase of the Airbus Super Puma helicopters, which were involved in the crash.

“Naturally, they found nothing related to the interests of the investigation,” he said.

Emily Rauhala in Brussels contributed to this report.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.