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As Ukrainian officials begin filing asset declarations, controversies surface

by Oleg Sukhov December 15, 2023 11:24 PM 7 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff Andriy Yermak (R) and his controversial deputy Oleh Tatarov attend a graduation ceremony for police academies in Kyiv on April 12, 2023. Yermak has not filed an asset declaration yet, while Tatarov, who has been charged with bribery, has filed one. (Kaniuka Ruslan / Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Editor's Note: The original version of this text mistakenly said that Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk received $320,000 in wages from the state in 2022, with the actual figure being $32,000.

Some of the electronic asset declarations recently filed by top officials have revealed huge earnings, valuable assets, and links to Russia.

The discoveries follow the re-opening of the public register of electronic declarations by the National Agency for Corruption Prevention (NACP) on Dec. 10.

Ukraine's electronic asset declaration system, a key anti-corruption tool, was created after the pro-Western 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution.

After Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, the Ukrainian authorities passed a law to allow officials not to file electronic asset declarations and shut down public access to all previous declarations. Anti-corruption activists said that the move may have been justified at the beginning of the all-out war, but later it was used by corrupt officials to hide their wealth.

Under public and Western pressure, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law in October to resume the submission of asset declarations by officials and immediately make them publicly accessible.

State officials have to file asset declarations for 2021 and 2022 by Jan. 31, 2024, and 2023 declarations by March 31, 2024.

So far, 22% of lawmakers have filed declarations for 2021, and 14% of the MPs have submitted declarations for 2022, according to civic watchdog Chesno.

Zelensky, his chief of staff Andriy Yermak, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, and many other top officials have not filed their declarations yet.

Court orders closure of bribery case against top member of Zelensky’s administration
Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky District Court has ordered prosecutors to close a bribery case against President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Deputy Chief of Staff Oleh Tatarov, according to a ruling published in the official register of court decisions. The ruling was issued on Dec. 14 but was published by the Anti…

Zelensky's most controversial ally

One of the most controversial officials who filed a declaration is Oleh Tatarov, a deputy chief of staff for Zelensky. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Tatarov received a salary of Hr 500,000 ($13,500) from the state in 2022, while Tatarov's partner Tetiana Tatarova, his former wife, earned Hr 7 million ($189,600) from business activities.

Tatarov holds 321,496 euros on a bank account, as well as $400,000 and Hr 5.4 million ($150,000) in cash, while Tatarova has Hr 5.15 million ($140,000) in cash and other assets.

Tatarov has also invested Hr 9 million ($240,000) in the construction of real estate, while Tatarov's partner Tetiana has rented a 137-square-meter apartment in Slovakia since March 2022.

Additionally, she has a Mercedes Benz car worth Hr 2.5 million ($68,000).

Ukrainian investigative outlet Bihus.Info reported in March that the purpose of the Tatarovs' recent divorce may have been to preserve their assets.

Tatarov has become the symbol of Zelensky's tolerance for corruption in his inner circle.

Tatarov was charged by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) in 2020 with giving an Hr 250,000 ($10,000) bribe to a forensic expert on behalf of ex-lawmaker Maksym Mykytas.

The case has been obstructed and effectively destroyed by ex-Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

Despite the controversies, Zelensky has refused to suspend or fire Tatarov.

Officials accused of using war as pretext for hiding ill-gotten wealth
As Ukrainian soldiers are defending their homeland on the front line, officials in the rear are accused of using the war as a pretext for hiding their wealth. They are able to do so because one of Ukraine’s main anti-corruption tools, the asset declaration system, has been effectively eliminated.

Zelensky's second controversial ally

Rostyslav Shurma, another deputy chief of staff for Zelensky, is also controversial. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Shurma, who is responsible for the economic policy at the President's Office, received Hr 681,500 ($18,403) in income in 2022, including wages worth Hr 415,600 ($11,222), while his wife's income amounted to Hr 870,000 ($23,493).

Shurma also holds an equivalent of Hr 5 million ($140,000) in cash and bank accounts.

Additionally, Shurma and his wife lent Hr 210 million ($5.67 million) to his brother Oleh in 2021.

Shurma has been involved in several controversies.

He has created a venture fund with an authorized capital of Hr 435 million ($11.8 million), and its activities are currently exempt from taxation, according to Nashi Groshi, an investigative media outlet.

In September, Shurma also confirmed that his brother's company had received money from the Ukrainian government for solar plants in Russian-occupied territories under the "green tariff" scheme during the full-scale invasion. He denied the accusations of wrongdoing.

The green tariff, introduced in 2008, is a controversial above-market price for power intended to encourage investment in renewable energy. Since its introduction, the scheme has faced multiple accusations of corruption, with businesspeople friendly with the government profiteering from the green tariff.

Shurma worked as an executive at Procter and Gamble in Moscow in 2003-2005. Later, he worked as a top executive at companies controlled by oligarch Renat Akhmetov.

He also used to be a lawmaker from pro-Russian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions and the head of the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc's branch in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

Shurma has been investigated on suspicion of embezzlement and vote buying in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, according to Ukrainska Pravda.

A luxury apartment in Moscow

Some e-declarations submitted by lawmakers show an obvious connection with Russia.

Pro-Russian lawmaker Yury Boiko's wife has declared a 220-square-meter apartment in Russia. Boiko claimed in the declaration that the apartment is worth Hr 2.7 million ($73,000).

However, RFE/RL's Schemes investigative journalism project estimated the apartment's value at more than 190 million rubles ($2.1 million). Schemes reported on Dec. 13 that the apartment is located in a high-end neighborhood in downtown Moscow.

When asked by Schemes journalists about the apartment and the funds, Boiko said that he considered them "frozen" because there is currently no way to sell the apartment or transfer the funds outside of Russia.

Boiko's wife also declared money and gold worth a total of 7.6 million rubles ($84,000) at Russia's NK Bank.

Boiko served under pro-Russian ex-President Yanukovych as energy minister and deputy prime minister.

Boiko has been investigated over the alleged embezzlement of $400 million during the purchase of oil rigs (nicknamed as the "Boiko Rigs") in the Black Sea during his stint as energy minister in 2011. However, no charges have been brought against him.

After the 2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, Boiko was the head of the pro-Russian Opposition Bloc and Opposition Platform-For Life factions in parliament. The Opposition Platform was banned after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Boiko left Ukraine during the full-scale invasion and was photographed in the Czech Republic in August 2022, according to Schemes. Subsequently, he returned to Ukraine, seen in Kyiv as recently as Dec. 12.

Currently, Boiko is the head of the Platform for Life and Peace, a faction created by Russian-friendly former Opposition Platform-For Life lawmakers.

More cash

Another scandalous official who filed a declaration is Viktor Hlynyany, a judge at the Kyiv Court of Appeal.

He was arrested earlier in December on charges of receiving a $8,300 bribe. Three other judges of the court have also been charged in the bribery case.

Hlynyany acquired a BMW X5 car worth Hr 3.3 million ($89,000) in October, according to his declaration.

He received Hr 2.8 million ($76,000) in wages and Hr 216,763 ($5,853) as a retirement pension from the state in 2021.

The judge also declared $80,000 and Hr 900,000 ($24,303) in cash.

Hlynyany and his mother also own a number of houses, apartments, and land plots.

Other declarations are less controversial.

David Arakhamia, head of Zelensky's Servant of the People faction in parliament, declared Hr 418,188 ($11,292) in wages for 2022, while his wife's income from business activities amounted to 1.7 million ($46,000).

Arakhamia has 1.3 million ($35,000) and $20,803 on bank accounts, while his wife declared 234,385 ($5,329) and $21,036 on bank accounts.

He also declared $650,000 and 100,000 euros in cash personally, as well as Hr 2.7 million ($73,000), $250,000 and 100,000 euros in cash jointly with his wife.

Ruslan Stefanchuk, speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, and his wife own a 93.4 square meters apartment in Khmelnytskyi, as well as a 1,008 square meter land plot and a 270 square meter house under construction in Kyiv Oblast.

Stefanchuk's wife also has a 101.8 square meter apartment in Kyiv and 50% of a 49.8 square meter apartment in Khmelnytskyi Oblast.

Stefanchuk received Hr 1.2 million ($32,000) in wages from the state in 2022.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov received Hr 4.56 million ($120,000) in income in 2022, and his wife declared income worth Hr 1.7 million ($46,000).

Umerov also declared debt claims worth $18,200, as well as Hr 218,600 ($5,903) and $5,800 in cash, as well as Hr 1.2 million ($32,000) and $1,800 in his bank accounts. His wife declared $3,900 in cash and $5,400 in her bank accounts.

His wife also rents an apartment in the U.S. with an area of 137 square meters.

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