Ukrainian president says changes must to prevent abuse of power

Ukrainian president says changes must to prevent abuse of power

Zelenskyy continues purge of top officials accused of corruption ahead of EU-Ukraine summit

By Burc Eruygur

ISTANBUL (AA) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said changes in the government are necessary to prevent abuse of power, as he continues to purge top government officials accused of corruption.

“I thank all law enforcement officials who have demonstrated the power of law and the power of the state ... today the heads of customs service were dismissed. I have been informed that disciplinary proceedings have been initiated against some of them,” Zelenskyy said in a video address late Wednesday.

Zelenskyy said leadership and institutional changes are must to maintain credibility of the government.

He added that various state institutions, including the Security Service of Ukraine and the State Bureau of Investigation, have conducted dozens of searches and other actions in different regions of the country against individuals “in the framework of open criminal proceedings.”

“People approve the actions of law enforcers ... justice will be ensured,” he said, adding that processes within the Defense Ministry and the defense forces are particularly important, as any internal supply and procurement must be “as clean and honest.” The West has allocated billions of dollars in financial and military aid to Kyiv to counter Russia, which launched a "special military operation" in Ukraine last February.

Ukrainian authorities conducted raids on Wednesday against former and current officials, and an oligarch.

Lawmaker David Arakhamia said on Telegram that evidence of wrongdoing was submitted to high-ranking officials of the Defense Ministry and that the entire leadership of the State Customs Service was dismissed.

Taras Melnychuk, the government's permanent representative in the Ukrainian parliament, said Serhiy Zviagintsev was appointed as the acting head of the customs.

Crackdown on corruption began after Zelenskyy declared on Jan. 23 that he would reshuffle officials at various levels in ministries, central and local administrative bodies, as well as law enforcement to build “a strong state.”

The anti-corruption measures come ahead of the EU-Ukraine summit scheduled for Friday, which Kyiv officials hope will bolster their bid to become a full member of the 27-member bloc.

Ukraine has long suffered endemic corruption, but Moscow's “special military operation” is said to have overshadowed the government's efforts to stamp out graft.

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