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Umerov: More than $260 million in violations discovered at Defense Ministry

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 9, 2024 12:14 AM 1 min read
Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov attends an in-person Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting at Ramstein Air Base, southwestern Germany, on Sept. 19, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Internal audits and investigations at Ukraine's Defense Ministry over the past four months have uncovered more than Hr 10 billion ($260 million) in violations committed previously, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov announced on Jan. 8.

Two major corruption scandals preceded the ousting of previous Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, one regarding inflated prices for food supplies and the other connected to low-quality winter jackets.

When introducing Umerov as Reznikov's successor in September 2023, President Volodymyr Zelensky named increased transparency in defense procurement as one of the new minister's key tasks.

"One of the priorities of the Defense Ministry team is to clean the system from unscrupulous participants - inside the institution and outside. We are actively working on this in close collaboration with law enforcement agencies: we are eradicating corruption," Umerov said.

The ministry "reacts harshly" to cases of financial violations, he added.

Umerov said that the crackdown on corruption and changes to procurement processes have already produced "tangible results."

Over the past month, the ministry saved Hr 3.5 billion ($91 million) on all purchases of non-lethal equipment, Umerov said.

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) said in January 2023 that it had begun to investigate possible corruption in the Defense Ministry's food procurement before ZN.ua, a news site, published an investigation on the issue.

According to the report, the ministry sought to buy food at prices two to three times higher than it costs at Kyiv grocery stores.

Amid the corruption scandal, Defense Minister Reznikov resigned in September.

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