Another corruption scandal has recently rattled the Ukrainian public, galvanized media attention and brought down some prominent art – quite literally.

People don't usually let Cartier bracelets, Porsches or fancy apartments slide upon learning that they may have been bought with cash stolen from their army during wartime.

So now, the reputation of up-and-coming 25-year-old artist Sonya Morozik, riding what's likely the peak of her career, has been torn down in the same way as her art, with people simply unwilling to accept that she is the ex-fiancée of a man accused of embezzling funds from the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

The case

It all started on Dec. 29, when the State Bureau of Investigation arrested Lviv businessman Ihor Hrynkevych, a major clothing supplier to the Ministry of Defense.

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Hrynkevych was accused of taking a bribe to regain seized property from his companies during a criminal investigation.

As part of this investigation, law enforcement discovered that Hrynkevych's companies won 23 tenders to supply clothing to the Ministry, totaling more than Hr. 1.5 billion ($42 million).

However, several contracts were allegedly left unfulfilled, some were only partially implemented with delays, and orders were processed by enterprises lacking sufficient capacity.

The State Bureau of Investigation said that, under these contracts, Hrynkevych's companies supplied low-quality goods, resulting in financial losses to the state exceeding Hr. 934 million ($24 million)

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A criminal group of five members led by Hrynkevych, including his son Roman, were identified as suspects under Part 5 of Article 190 and Part 1 and 2 of Article 255 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. This pertains to providing illegal benefits to an official and creation of a criminal organization.

Both father and son could face up to eight years in prison.

The Ministry of Defense has terminated all contracts with Hrynkevych's companies, and on Jan. 11, the State Bureau of Investigation reported that all assets belonging to the family and companies under Hrynkevych's control had been seized.

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Hrynkevych Jr., was detained almost two weeks later in Odesa, on Jan. 22, whilst trying to leave the country.

According to operational information provided by the State Bureau of Investigation, Hrynkevych tried to negotiate an illegal crossing to hide from Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies.

Opulent lifestyle

It might appear to be just another corruption scandal to which the Ukrainian public has long become wearily accustomed.

However, the situation took a new turn when extravagant details of the Hrynkevych family's luxurious lifestyle began to surface.  

An Instagram post by Ihor Lachenkov, a Ukrainian blogger and volunteer, followed by 1.5 million on Telegram and 720,000 on Instagram, brought the case to the top of the headlines.

In doing so, he provided intricate details of the family’s lavish lifestyle, wealth and newly acquired high-end possessions.

Lachenkov hinted that the funds for these luxuries might have been taken directly from the AFU.

“Hrynkevych made several major purchases in 2023, including apartments, houses, and land plots for all family members," Lachenkov wrote.

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"In May 2023, 28-year-old Roman Hrynkevych, son of a Lviv businessman, acquired four land plots and a large house (289 square meters) in Kozyn in just one day.

Lachenkov revealed that Roman Hrynkevych's fiancé Sonya Morozyuk, an up-and-coming artist, purchased a 2015 Porsche Cayenne and a 122-square-meter commercial space in the capital in 2023, valued at Hr. 4.6 million. ($122,000).

 

"In just one year, their companies managed to withdraw more than Hr. 1 billion ($26 million), while the investigation was still ongoing," Lachenkov added.

Prior to that, in August 2023, Olha Hrynkevych, Ihor’s daughter, showcased her travels in a private VIP train carriage.

This carriage, adorned with gold, has typically been reserved for diplomatic trips or international guests during the full-scale invasion.

The same carriage was used recently by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his visit to Kyiv.

Sonya Moroziuk

Amidst the corruption scandal, Morozyuk announced her breakup from Roman Hrynkevych on Instagram.

“We won't be family. I won't take the Hrynkevych name. I won't be with a man who betrayed my country. I believed and now I feel disgusted, cheated, and used. I'll stay Sonya Morozyuk,” she wrote.

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During their relationship, Morozyuk is said to have received a Graff ring and Cartier necklace, valued at Hr. 2.5 million ($63,400). She pledged to sell them, donating the funds to the AFU.

Her post was flooded with 1,000 comments within an hour, questioning Morozyuk's awareness of the Hrynkevych family's wealth. Social media users also inquired about real estate gifts from Hrynkevych and the abovementioned Porshe Cayenne.

Morozyuk clarified that she received only two gifts and denied allegations of additional assets. “I reject [these] suspicions – apartments, cars, anything – and am ready to prove it in court. The promise to file a declaration stands,” she affirmed.

She insisted the Hrynkevych family did not financially support her artistic development, having known her fiancé for only five months. Fame, she claimed, pre-dated their relationship.

However, on Jan. 11, the ARMA agency discovered luxury assets of the Hrynkevych family, including two apartments owned by Morozyuk.

At this point, murals on buildings in the Kyiv center created by the young and promising Morozyuk, were taken down, and her exhibition scheduled at one of the biggest and fanciest studios in Kyiv was cancelled.

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