Clean-up act a positive sign for Zelensky - GulfToday

Clean-up act a positive sign for Zelensky

Ukrainian issue is similar to what happened in 2016

Volodymyr Zelensky

It is a major internal development in Ukraine as deputy ministers and key officials, especially in the defence ministry, and regional heads were asked to step down as all of them were accused of corruption. There was pressure from the media that President Volodymyr Zelensky must act against the corrupt officials in the country immediately, and not wait for the war with Russia to get over.

The president’s move is seen as a vindication of the robust democratic system in the country, which has been earlier known for its petty dictators and their cliques. Some of the officials were accused of procuring food supplies for the armed forces at inflated prices, others were accused of owning luxury cars wrongfully obtained, and yet others of going abroad for vacation.

The clean-up operation, that occurred even as the country was engaged in a deadly war, is seen as a positive sign that democracy and transparency are the watchwords for the Zelensky government. And it is expected that this would increase the credibility of the Zelensky government in the eyes of the Western countries supporting Ukraine’s war against Russia both through military and humanitarian aid. This act of Zelensky will be compared with the changes made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was to replace generals who were not making headway on the war front.

Among the prominent officials who quit included Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Zelensky administration, and deputy defence minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, deputy general prosecutor Oleksiy Symonenko. It is expected that there will be another round of removing officials at various levels as part of the operation to fight corruption in the government.

Zelensky came to power on the theme of fighting the corruption of the oligarchs who ruled Ukraine ever since it broke away from the then Soviet Union in 1991. It would seem that Zelensky is acting on his promise, and this would strengthen the democratic credentials of Ukraine in the eyes of the West, and the Western governments will step up their aid to Ukraine to fight the war against Russia. Addressing the nation, Zelensky said, “We have made personnel decisions…regarding officials of various levels in ministries and other central government bodies, in the regions, and in the law enforcement system.”

What is to be seen is whether the officials charged with corruption will be allowed to disappear from public life quietly, or whether there will be inquiries, trials and convictions, which is not yet clear. It would seem that throwing the corrupt people from the governmental system is a big act in itself. There is however the curious anomaly in this whole act. The defence ministry in a statement about the resignation of Shapovalov said his resignation “was an honourable act, a demonstration that the interests of defence are higher than any cabinets or chairs,” and it went on to say that “the voiced accusations are unfounded and baseless.” Earlier, the defence ministry expressed the hope that Shapovalov’s resignation “will preserve the trust of society and international partners and ensure objectivity during additional clarifications and possible investigations.”

It appears that the large round of resignations is also a political act to assure people in the country and the Western governments that the Ukrainian government of Zelensky is committed to fighting corruption at home. It is also quite possible that what is being said about the resignations is not the whole story, and that there could be other, deeper reasons which are of the troubling kind. Some of these officials who quit might not be fully committed to the war against Russia, or they could be suspected of being Russian sympathisers. It is understandable that the Zelensky government would reveal any sensitive details about these officials who have been asked to go.

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