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Wealth of Ukrainian Security Officers Revealed

The powerful interior minister is also under a spotlight as the authorities open a probe into corruption allegations against him.

29 September 2017

Ukraine’s anti-corruption bureau NABU is checking allegations against Interior Minister Arsen Avakov (pictured), one of the most resilient figures in government.

 

A court ordered the probe, acting on a complaint from the U.S. government-backed Anti-Corruption Action Center, First Deputy Prosecutor General Dmytro Storozhuk said 13 September, Interfax-Ukraine reported.

 

On 14 September Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said his office had opened a criminal investigation of Avakov on the basis of several complaints, including from the center, RFE/RL reported.

 

The center successfully pushed for mandatory asset declarations by public officials. Held up as a key plank in the battle against rampant official graft, the electronic asset disclosures began last year and, according to center founder Vitaliy Shabunin, led opponents of the initiative to unleash a campaign against him.

 

Meanwhile, asset declarations by retired Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officers published by a Kyiv newspaper suggest even retired staff possess wealth far beyond what their official salaries could buy.

 

The affair swirling around anti-corruption activist Shabunin began when he punched a self-described journalist who had been harassing him for weeks, Bloomberg wrote earlier this month.

 

The journalist, Vsevolod Filimonenko, is an aide to member of parliament Serhiy Melnychuk, who lost his immunity for alleged ties to organized crime, according to Bloomberg. Before the eastern uprising began in 2014, Filimonenko lost his job with an election-monitoring group in Luhansk for soliciting a $3,000 bribe from a local official.

 

A lawmaker who supports Shabunin, Semen Semenchenko, claims Filimonenko and Melnychuk are allies of the top military prosecutor, Anatoliy Matios, whose attempt to draft Shabunin into the army earned him a reprimand.

 

Matios also clashed with the Anti-Corruption Action Center over his decision to restrict access to his and his staff’s asset declarations. His 2016 filed listed multiple homes and $600,000 in cash, Bloomberg says.

 

 

  • The SBU successfully argued serving personnel should be exempt from filing the electronic declarations, saying such information was too sensitive to reveal, the Kyiv Post reports.

 

  • However, retired officers are required to file a public declaration. One SBU pensioner and his family own apartments, land, and cars worth about $200,000 and the same amount in cash. The family of another former officer owns cars worth some $250,000, a house and three large apartments, and the equivalent of about $175,000 in hryvnia, euros, and dollars.

 

  • The SBU payroll is a secret, but agency representatives told RFE/RL in 2015 that monthly salaries in the Kyiv office ranged from 4,000 hryvnia ($150) to 16,000 hryvnia, the Kyiv Post says.

 

  • The Anti-Corruption Action Center receives 47 percent of its funding from the U.S. government and about 37 percent from international organizations. Funding has risen sharply since the center’s foundation in 2012, to $419,000 in 2016, according to its website.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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