Top Official Charged In Major Corruption Scandal

A former politician in Ukraine who built a high profile and was central to his country’s effort in obtaining weapons was arrested in early February, the country’s officials said recently.

The New York Times reported that Serhiy Pashinsky, a long-time member of the parliament in Ukraine, was arrested and charged with corruption. He spent a majority of his political career denying various accusations that he was participating in self-dealing.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, many senior officials in Ukraine called on Pashinsky to help the country arm its military.

Last year, the Times issued a report that a company with Ties to Pashinsky, Ukrainian Armored Technology, became the largest supplier of private arms in the country, and that they were under investigation by authorities.

Recently, Pashinsky along with five others were accused by prosecutors of participating in a convoluted scheme to buy fuel that allegedly defrauded the government in Ukraine of roughly $25 million many years before this war with Russia began.

Pashinsky has denied those charges.

The Times reports that the accusations don’t relate to any weapons procurement.

The government under President Volodymyr Zelensky has made multiple moves to try to root out corruption in the country, in the process trying to assure its allies in the West that Ukraine can be a reliable ally that’s committed to the rule of law.

At the same time, the country is in desperate need of weapons, which forced it to roll back many anti-corruption measures that were put in place so that procurement of those weapons could be sped up.

Zelensky even once criticized Pashinsky on national TV. Back in 2019, the president said:

“Go out on the streets and ask whether Pashinsky is a criminal. I guarantee you that out of 100 people, 100 will say that he is a criminal.”

Yet, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Zelensky’s government turned to Pashinsky and some other figures for help in procuring weapons. Military officials in the country even praised him for the excellent job he was doing.

Pashinsky has denied that he runs Ukrainian Armored Technology. Early in February, a prosecutor said at a hearing that authorities in the country discovered evidence that Pashinsky indeed did control that company.

Earlier this week, the High Anti-Corruption Court in Ukraine imposed a pail of more than $7 million for Pashinsky.

In a post on Facebook, he wrote that his bail was posted by companies that are part of a trade group in the arms industry that he’s the head of.

As he wrote:

“I am deeply ashamed that funds meant for weapon production were used as bail for me on false charges.”

A reporter from The Times reached out to Pashinsky, but he declined to comment on the situation. All he would say was:

“Call after the war.”

This incident underscores the multiple controversies and concerns that still exist in Ukraine, even as the current government has worked hard to root out corruption. It’s one major reason why the U.S. in particular has expressed hesitation in definitively supporting a future bid from Ukraine to join NATO.