Serhii Kuzminykh, a member of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People parliamentary faction, was caught while allegedly accepting an Hr 558,000 ($20,000) bribe on Jan. 28, according to law enforcement sources of Ukrainian news websites Ukrainska Pravda and Censor.Net.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) said that they caught a lawmaker of Servant of the People faction “red-handed” when receiving a bribe, but did not name him.
According to the NABU, “the official accepted a bribe for helping private companies get contracts with a state hospital in Zhytomyr Oblast.”
In parliament, Kuzminykh heads a subcommittee on pharmacy and pharmaceutical activity.
Kuzminykh came to prominence as the brother of Oleg Kuzminykh, one of the high-profile Ukrainian soldiers that were defending the Donetsk Airport before it fell to Russian-backed militants in 2015.
The brothers launched a rehabilitation center for war veterans in the city of Zhytomyr.
Kuzminykh couldn’t be reached for comment. The Kyiv Independent called the brothers' charity organization, the Oleh and Sergiy Kuzminykh Fund, to verify the news of the arrest. The person who picked up the phone said they “don’t give comments,” hung up and didn’t respond to further calls.
Neither Servant of the People party nor faction has yet issued statements into the alleged bribery probe against Kuzminykh.
According to Ukrainska Pravda, the lawmaker has not been detained, and the NABU will now ask Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova to sign the charges. According to the law, prosecutor general has to personally authorize charges against lawmakers.
It’s not the first time lawmakers of the ruling Servant of the People faction, which has the 242-seat majority in the parliament, are exposed taking bribes.
In September 2020, the NABU caught lawmaker Oleksandr Yurchenko extorting a bribe amounting $13,000.
A few days after, Servant of the People expelled him from the faction. The Prosecutor General signed a notice of suspicion for Yurchenko. The investigation is ongoing.
In October 2020, journalists of Schemes, an investigative project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, exposed Pavlo Khalimon, a lawmaker with the Servant of the People faction, allegedly extorting a bribe.
According to journalists, Khalimon, the deputy chairman of the agrarian committee, asked farmers in Chernihiv Oblast to pay him Hr 40 million ($1.4 million) to ensure a favorable business climate.
Khalimon called the investigation “a hunt for 'servants of the people'.”