Mounting allegations that funds intended for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have been misdirected by government officials have spurred the State Bureau of Investigations (DBR) to probe assertions that three delegates from the Kyiv City Council have evaded military service.

The probe comes on the heels of President Volodymyr Zelensky announcing on Aug. 11 that he would fire the “military commissars” in charge of the AFU’s recruitment centers.

All of this is taking place as Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the front lines face shortages of essential supplies and weaponry. It raises the question: Are fighters turning sour on their civilian leaders because of these unsavory charges?

The soldiers who spoke to Kyiv Post about the current state of affairs are not pleased, to say the least.

Advertisement

Fast and loose accounting

As prosecutors delve into the suspected enrichment scheme by a former military commissar from Zaporizhzhia, and after the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) uncovered the case of an accountant from the financial and economic division of a military unit accused of embezzling more than Hr.10 million (about $270,000) from military servicemen’s pensions, there is now evidence that three members of the Kyiv City Council – Ihor Khatsevych, Oleh Levchenko (from the European Solidarity party led by former president Petro Poroshenko), and Mykhailo Terentyev (from the UDAR party led by Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko) have evaded military conscription.

Explosions Heard in Kyiv as All Russian Drones Shot Down Approaching the City
Other Topics of Interest

Explosions Heard in Kyiv as All Russian Drones Shot Down Approaching the City

Reports suggested debris had fallen in the Darnytsky district of Kyiv. However, no evidence of shelling was found after an inspection by operational service units.

All three individuals are nominally members of a Territorial Defense unit, but investigations have revealed that Khatsevych, Levchenko and Terentyev have failed to fulfill their military service obligations throughout the year.

“They received authorization for a transfer to the Kyiv Military State Administration, and at the same time, they have been receiving financial support from the unit where they were supposedly serving,” the Prosecutor General’s Office put out in a statement.

Advertisement

The Pechersk District Court of Kyiv has already imposed pre-trial restrictions for the defendants: house arrest at night, and an electronic monitor at all times.

In their defense, deputy head of the Kyiv City State Administration and head of the European Solidarity faction of the city council, Volodymyr Prokopiv, has thrown his weight behind Levchenko and Khatsevych.

In a comment to Kyiv Post, Prokopiv claimed that, after the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, the delegates enrolled in the 206th Territorial Defense Battalion and “were at roadblocks defending Kyiv.”

“It is untrue that they are draft dodgers, as some people claim. The prosecutor’s office is issuing arrests for no reason at all, targeting our defenders and volunteers, those who defended Kyiv in the darkest times,” Prokopiv told Kyiv Post. “All of this sets a very bad precedent.”

The former commander of the military unit that transferred Khatsevych, Levchenko, and Terentyev to the Kyiv City Military Administration by his order was also charged. The Prosecutor General’s Office insists that the ex-commander overstepped his authority, as the only person who has the authority to take such a decision is the commander-in-chief of the AFU.

Advertisement

Prokopiv, on the other hand, believes that the DBR has exceeded its powers by bringing up these charges and that the chosen form of the pre-trial restrictions “impedes their military service, making it impossible for them to fulfill their duties as delegates and participate in sessions of the Kyiv City Council.”

Soldiers at the front

Meanwhile, Ukrainian soldiers who have experienced first-hand the lack of essential supplies such as drones, ammunition, cars, and medicines on the front lines, along with delayed salaries, are not as easily swayed.

Kyiv Post recently asked several fighters about their thoughts on the recent scandals involving the charges of embezzlement and misappropriation of funds intended for the AFU.

Vadym, an aviation scout who asked to be identified by first name only, did not hide his anger when speaking to Kyiv Post.

“Now, more than ever, I feel angry hearing all these rumors about embezzlement and corruption, about the expensive vacations of the parliamentarians and the quick enrichment of military commissars,” he said. “You get the impression that nobody needs us, that everyone is out for themselves and getting rich.”

Advertisement

A few days after the controversy surrounding the delegates of the Kyiv City Council developed, the DBR served charges to the former head of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Territorial Center for Recruitment and Social Support, more commonly known as “military commissariat.” According to the investigation, he illegally increased military payments to people from within his inner circle.

The DBR indicates that the military commissar provided documents to his relatives, allowing them to receive certificates of direct participation in hostilities. This resulted in them receiving additional combat payments totaling about Hr.981,300 ($26,400).

One of the military commissar’s subordinates even submitted documents to receive Hr.700,000 ($19,000) in cash assistance due to a loss of work from “participation in hostilities.” As such, he is suspected of exceeding his authority during martial law as laid out by the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

An air intelligence officer identifying himself only as Dmytro said that “the embezzlement of military funds does not help us with our work at the front lines.”

As a military UAV operator fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region, he said: “It’s disheartening to know that funds meant for purchasing aerial reconnaissance equipment are being pocketed. Every drone lost is a life lost for our fellow soldiers. Without the drone, someone would have to conduct reconnaissance in the area, putting them in harm’s way.”

Advertisement

Dmytro added: “I believe that the authorities should pay closer attention to cases of money misuse, as it is comparable to looting. Those who have been caught engaging in such actions should be sent to dig trenches.”

Vadym, the air scout, shared Dmytro’s indignation: “The sense of impunity of those who dare to profit from the war and the money from our Western allies is annoying. Unfortunately, there were precedents of profiting from the war during the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation, as the 2014-2022 phase of the war was called], but the main participants were not punished. I believe that this could give a free hand to today’s corrupt military officials.”

Public outrage was also registered in the case of fraud committed by the accountant of the financial and economic unit of a battalion of AFU marines in Odesa. He credited the salary and bonuses to the accounts of his acquaintances, who not only weren’t a part of the battalion, but did not even serve in the AFU.

For three months, he had been transferring funds from the military unit’s account for payments to military personnel to his personal bank card. The sums of the one-time payment ranged from Hr.98,500 to Hr.550,000 ($2,650 to $14,800). According to the investigation, his scheme helped him to pocket more than Hr.10 million ($269,000).

Advertisement

During the searches, police established that he had purchased an Audi Q7 car and expensive appliances with the embezzled funds, and almost Hr.2.5 million ($67,000) ended up on the bank cards of his acquaintances.

Serhiy Stakhovsky, formerly Ukraine’s top professional tennis player, who is now serving in the AFU, expressed his displeasure to Kyiv Post, saying: “Sadly, there are many more cases in our country that involve much bigger amounts of money.

"It is very difficult to accept this when you are on the front lines, when you lack certain supplies to carry out your tasks, and at the same time, you see that war is a good way for some people to make money. They only care about their own well-being.”

 

 

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter