Corruption scandal in Ukraine around the supply of meals to the army.
Published on 23.1.2023
RT reports that journalist Yuri Nikolov published an investigation in which he explains that the Ukrainian defense inflated the prices of certain foodstuffs intended for soldiers, thus accusing it of embezzling funds. The ministry denied it.
In an article published on January 21 on the media site ZN.UAjournalist Yuri Nikolov, accuses, with supporting documents, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense of having signed contracts “two to three times higher” than market prices for the supply of food to Ukrainian soldiers located in several regions of the country.
According to the documents presented by Yuri Nikolov, the agreement in question, signed on December 23, 2022 and covering the year 2023, would amount to 13.16 billion hryvnias (the Ukrainian currency) or approximately 330 million euros.
In his investigation, the journalist compared the prices of several foodstuffs present in the contract with the prices in force in a supermarket in kyiv. And according to him the report is without appeal. So, an egg, sold for 7 hryvnias in the Ukrainian capital was bought, according to the terms of the contract, 17 hryvnias. Potatoes are sold for 8-9 hryvnias per kilogram in the same store, compared to 22 hryvnias per kilogram in the contract made by the ministry. A chicken leg sells for 80 hryvnias in kyiv compared to 120 hryvnias in the case presented by Yuri Nikolov.
The price of lettuce is 2.5 times higher in the contract compared to the price of the supermarket studied, 1.7 for onions or 2.3 for beets.
Would this additional cost be related to the provision of catering services? Not according to the journalist, who explains that this would be included in a separate item of expenditure in the amount of 30 million hryvnias (about 750,000 euros).
Having also had access to contracts awarded in 2021 by the Ministry of Defense for the same regions, Yuri Nikolov also claims to have seen a price increase well above that of inflation in the country.
An opaque society
Also according to the journalist’s investigation, the Ukrainian defense contract was signed with a company called Active Company LLC and based in kyiv. According to Yuri Nikolov, the company has already been worried by the courts, appearing in a 2019 criminal procedure concerning the use of a false document in a tender for the supply of meat to the country’s penitentiaries.
Defense Ministry of Oleksii Reznikov should apologize
According to Yuri Nikolov, this company “is most likely […] created by professionals in the field of food supply for the military”.
In addition, the contract was reportedly initialed by Bohdan Khmelnytskyi on behalf of the ministry, “director of the state procurement department, which was raided this summer in connection with the diversion of ammunition supplies for the army”
In his article, Yuri Nikolov writes that “Oleksii Reznikov’s Defense Ministry should apologize”. He also accuses the minister of having a “great appetite for embezzlement” which, according to the journalist, has been reinforced by the conflict with Russia.
Defense Ministry denies corruption charges
In a comment posted on Telegram on January 22, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense strongly denied any fraud and dismissed the corruption charges. “The ministry purchases the relevant products in accordance with the procedure established by law,” he said, criticizing “false” information aimed, according to him, at “deliberate manipulation”.
Principle of zero tolerance towards corruption
He added that he was “preparing documents” with the aim of opening an investigation into this information, which was described as “misleading” and which “harms the interests of the defense during a special period”.
He finally announced the establishment of an “internal audit” and the organization of an “emergency meeting”, in the presence of the minister, in order to clarify “the procedure [et] the circumstances of the purchase of food products for military personnel for 2023”. “In the event of detection of violations in the activities of officials of the Ministry of Defense, they will be responsible in accordance with the law in force”, he further added, affirming a “principle of zero tolerance towards corruption”.
Ukraine, a country plagued by corruption
If this affair makes a lot of noise in Ukraine, the country is not less accustomed to corruption cases. Also on 21 January, Vasyl Lozynkiï, First Deputy Minister of Community and Territory Development, was arrested by the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU).
According to NABU, Vasyl Lozynkiï “received [400 000 dollars] to facilitate the conclusion of contracts for the purchase of equipment and generators at inflated prices”.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Chmygal announced in a Telegram message on January 22 the dismissal of Vasyl Lozynkiï. “The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine orders the dismissal of VM Lozynkiy as Deputy Minister of Development of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure of Ukraine,” he argued.
In a report published in September 2021, the European Court of Auditors noted that “grand corruption and ‘state capture’ have plagued Ukraine for many years”, and this while the European Union has poured since 2014and even more since the launch of the Russian military operation, billions of euros in the country.
Worse still, the American channel CBS had put online, at the beginning of August, before deprogramming it, a documentary widely shared on social networks dealing with the route of weapons – with which the West has been flooding Ukraine since the start of the war with Russia – in the country until they reach the hands of combatants on the front line and in which a certain Jonas Ohman , a Swedish boss of the NGO Blue/Yellow (Blue/Yellow) based in Lithuania, according to the NATO site, noted that only a minority of the supplies actually arrived in the hands of those for whom they were intended.
“All this material crosses the border and then something happens. Something like 30% [du matériel]perhaps, reached its final destination,” he assured.
As a reminder : Russia has been carrying out a military operation in Ukraine since February 24, 2022, which kyiv and its allies, who have taken numerous sanctions against Russia, denounce as a war of invasion unresponsive to any provocation. The Russian authorities, for their part, emphasize the need to protect the populations of Donbass, whose local authorities are in conflict with kyiv. since 2014 following the Maidan coup. Moscow has also said it wants to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine.