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President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree appointing a controversial official, Kyiv's Chief Prosecutor Oleh Kiper as the new governor of Odesa Oblast on May 30.
Maksym Marchenko, a colonel in the Ukrainian military, served as the governor of Odesa Oblast from March 2022-2023 until he was dismissed from his position by a presidential decree. Boris Voloshenkov has been serving as acting governor since then.
Schemes, an investigative project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, wrote on Feb. 2, 2023, that Kiper had spent a 10-day trip abroad during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
According to Schemes, Kiper crossed the Polish border on Dec. 29, 2022, and returned to Ukraine on Jan. 8, 2023.
Kiper confirmed to journalists that he'd gone abroad for "family-related circumstances" but refused to specify which country he'd visited, only saying that it was neither "festive" nor a "vacation."
"All documents related to the right to travel abroad were submitted to the competent authorities for consideration and after their study and clarification of the grounds, they granted the appropriate permission," Kiper said, as quoted by Schemes journalists.
According to Kiper, he would not specify which country he'd visited because it was a matter of safety for his wife, who renounced her Russian citizenship in July 2022.
"For the sake of her safety, I would not like to publicly announce in which country she lives with our child," Kiper added.
However, Schemes journalists wrote at the time of publication that the Russian passport of Kiper's wife was still valid. When asked about this, Kiper replied that "these issues were handled by the Migration Service of Ukraine."
In his evening address on Jan. 23, Zelensky announced that Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council had banned state officials from leaving the country during martial law except for official business trips.
The announcement came after several scandals surfaced relating to state officials leaving the country, sometimes on vacation, since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion.