Ukraine president fires ally over army corruption scandal
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Monday he had fired a close ally and defence official over a corruption scandal, seeking to distance himself from the controversy weeks before seeking re-election.
Oleg Gladkovsky, deputy head of the national security council, profited from the sale of smuggled Russian military parts to state defence companies at inflated prices, according to a report last week by an independent media outlet.
Poroshenko, who is not accused of involvement, is seeking re-election at the March 31 presidential vote and in opinion polls comes in second to a comedian who plays the Ukrainian head of state in a TV comedy.
However, the report by the Bihus.info investigative journalism unit has accused Poroshenko of turning a blind eye to protect former business partner Gladkovsky.
“This morning… I signed a decree dismissing Oleg Gladkovsky from the post,” Poroshenko said during a campaign visit to the south of the country.
He called for a criminal probe opened by the anti-corruption prosecutor’s office to be completed as soon as possible.
Accusations of self-enrichment at the expense of the army are particularly damaging in Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian-backed separatists in the east since 2014.
The conflict has claimed some 13,000 lives.
Corruption is endemic in Ukraine and successive leaders have promised to tackle the issue, without lasting success.
Anger with the political elite is partly behind the rise of Volodymyr Zelensky, a TV actor with no political experience who is the frontrunner in the upcoming presidential vote.
Zelensky is polling at 25 percent, ahead of Poroshenko on 17 percent and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko on 16 percent.