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Investigative Stories from Ukraine: Bihus.Info finds another Defense Ministry contract with inflated food prices

by Anna Myroniuk and Alexander Khrebet March 14, 2023 7:27 PM 3 min read
Bihus.Info finds another Defense Ministry contract with inflated prices for food for the army. (Credit: Bihus.Info)
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Bihus.Info finds another Defense Ministry contract with inflated food prices

In December 2022, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry contracted the Harna Strava (Good Meal) company to supply food to the army at prices around 40% above the market, according to the documents Bihus.Info investigative outlet said it obtained from soldiers.

This Bihus.Info story came out almost two months after ZN.UA had first exposed the ministry for procuring food for the army at prices two to three times higher than in Kyiv grocery stores. That contract was with a supplier called Active Company.

The ministry first denied but eventually admitted that some prices in contracts it signed were above average. Following the scandal, in January the ministry revoked its food supply contracts and signed new ones with the same companies. In the new contracts, some prices were decreased, and the time covered by the contracts went down from 12 to three months.

The contracts obtained by the Bihus.Info also ended up changed. In the new contracts, the initially overpriced vegetables dropped in price by about Hr 10 per kilogram or 21% to 38%, depending on the vegetable.

The Harna Strava told Bihus.Info that the dropped Hr 10 difference was the extra charge for delivering the food to the front line, denying that the prices were inflated in the initial contract.

The Defense Ministry said that the procurement system has flaws they seek to eliminate.

Watch the full video in the Ukrainian language here.

Slidstvo.Info: Russia labels its killed soldiers 'missing' to avoid compensating families

Russia has been hiding losses in its war against Ukraine to avoid paying compensation to the families of fallen soldiers.

An investigative report by Slidstvo.Info featured close relatives of some of Russia's killed soldiers, including Ukrainians forcibly conscripted from the occupied territories of Ukraine.

When approached for comment, the relatives told Slidstvo.Info that Russian authorities had refused to recognize soldiers as killed despite proof of their death available online.

Russia has only admitted to around 6,000 of its troops being killed in Ukraine since its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Ukraine's General Staff estimates Russian losses at over 158,000. Kyiv has repeatedly asked Moscow to recover the bodies of its soldiers.

Delger Sayrakova from Russia's Yamalo-Nenets region lost her husband, soldier Aleksandr Sayrakov.

Russian authorities allegedly told her he had gone missing in September in Kharkiv Oblast during Ukraine's counteroffensive. She recognized him among those killed in a video published online. Russian authorities still regard him as missing.

Since February 2022, Russia has been conducting a forced conscription campaign targeting men between the ages of 18 and 55 in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts they had occupied since 2014. According to the Geneva Conventions, forced conscription in occupied territories is a war crime.

Find the full story in Ukrainian here.

Media: Russia widens range of people subject to travel restrictions

When Russia launched its war against Ukraine in 2014, Russia imposed travel restrictions on employees of its law enforcement agencies. After Russia launched an all-out war in 2022, the restrictions reached more people.

Sistema, an investigation project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, found that Russian state-run companies have begun asking employees to hand in their passports to companies' security departments, sometimes invoking the Federal Security Service.

Employees of Russian state-owned organizations, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said that rules vary depending on the company, implying that not all employees working in state-owned companies are banned from leaving Russia.

Yet, most top officials of state-owned companies are now under travel restrictions.

Some mid-level employees of state-owned companies are asked to hand in passports under the threat of having them revoked altogether. According to the investigation, others are simply advised to refrain from traveling abroad.

A few reportedly have permission to visit states that are part of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), such as Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Belarus, among others.

An employee of a Russian state-owned company told Sistema that those who refuse to obey the rules are threatened with being fired.

In February, the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied that a travel ban existed for Russian officials.

Read the full story in Russian via the link.

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