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Reznikov offers MP, journalist bet amid army jacket supply scandal (updated)

The head of parliament's anticorruption committee, Anastasiya Radina, whom the minister initially offered a bet, made a counter-offer.

Reznikov offers MP, journalist bet amid army jacket supply scandal (updated)
Photo: EPA/UPG

Amid a scandal over the purchase of jackets for the military, Ukraine's Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has made a bet that if the 180,000 jackets purchased from a Turkish company turn out to be summer jackets, as journalists claim, he will resign. He said this in a comment to Babel.

If it turns out that the ministry has purchased 180,000 winter jackets as it should, MP Anastasiya Radina will have to resign, and UP journalist Mykhaylo Tkach will have to resign from the media and suspend his journalistic activities for three years.

Reznikov invited the parliamentary ethics committee and the commission on journalistic ethics to act as arbitrators in this case, and the editorial offices of Ukrainian media outlets to act as observers.

Reznikov said that the Defence Ministry would provide all documents, evidence, facts and materials related to the case, "so that the winner of the dispute would be obvious to the entire Ukrainian society".

Radina commented on the proposal on Facebook. She suggested that the minister of a country at war should not "waste time (for which Ukrainians pay with their lives) fighting with journalists (who have already helped save UAH 10bn in funds for the army)."

Radina offers the minister to debunk two allegations by 9 a.m. on 28 August. Radina offers the minister to refute two theses by 9am on 28 August. The first is that the Defence Ministry bought the jackets without a tender from a "Turkish" intermediary company, one of whose owners at the time of the contract with the Defence Ministry was a Ukrainian citizen, a nephew of MP Kasay, who is a member of parliament's defence committee.

The second is that the Defence Ministry paid three times more for the jackets than was indicated in the document from the Turkish side, with which the cargo left Turkey and passed through other customs up to the Ukrainian border. The authenticity of the document was confirmed by Yaroslav Zheleznyak, the head of the temporary investigation commission for economic crimes.

If Reznikov fails to prove these two statements wrong, Radina offers him to resign.

"If you debunk them, I will resign immediately after the adoption of the law on the restoration of public declaration of assets of officials, including military commissars and procurement officers for the army (you personally oppose the latter)," she said. 

Radina is the head of parliament's committee on anticorruption policy and has been actively advocating Reznikov's resignation amid the procurement scandals.

Subsequently, journalist Mykhaylo Tkach also responded to the minister's proposal. On Facebook, he wrote that his investigation concerned the fact that the nephew of a Servant of the People MP was a co-owner of the company "that supplied the scandalous jackets and made money on it".

"If you are ready to refute this fact, I, as well as Ukrainian society, am listening to you carefully. But during the day since the investigation was released, we have not seen any explanations on this matter," he said.

Tkach regarded the minister's words as pressure on the media and said that he would leave "only when the last internal executioner of Ukrainian society, who thinks he can use the power of society in his private interests with impunity, is cornered. For now, the ideas of those who are on the way to this corner do not bother me. Because this is my job."

Mykhaylo Tkach is a journalist at Ukrayinska Pravda, known for his investigative reporting. In the spring of this year, he published the alleged Russian passport of the then acting head of the Defence Ministry's department, Oleksandr Liyev. Later, the editorial office said that this information was untrue, as they had found no evidence of a Russian passport. Liyev eventually resigned from the ministry.

The scandal over the procurement of jackets for the military broke out on 10 August, when the investigation was published by ZN.UA. However, at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada's Anti-Corruption Committee, it became known that law enforcement officers had been investigating the purchase of clothing from this Turkish company, owned by a Ukrainian, since the autumn of 2022, when they noticed suspicious customs documents. According to the journalists, in October-December, Vector Avia imported 233,000 jackets worth UAH 20 million and another 202,000 trousers worth $13 million into Ukraine. However, in reality, they claim, these were not winter jackets, as stated in the documents, but lightweight jackets. At the same time, the Defence Ministry insists that the jackets were accepted "in accordance with the established procedure by specialists of the Armed Forces Logistics Forces without any significant comments on the quality". The Defence Ministry also stated that there were no complaints about these jackets from the military.

Yesterday, an investigation by Ukrayinska Pravda revealed that the co-owner of this Turkish company, in addition to Roman Pletnev, who is already under investigation, was Oleksandr Kasya, the nephew of Hennadiy Kasay, a Servant of the People MP and member of the defence committee.

Before being elected to parliament, Hennadiy Kasay was the director of the Yunist Sports Palace of Motor Sich, whose president is now a suspect in the treason case, Vyacheslav Bohuslayev. The MP's brother, Oleksandr Kasay's father, also worked for Bohuslayev for many years.

Until recently, Oleksandr Kasay was also a handball player for Bohuslayev's Motor club.

Oleksandr Kasay ceased to be a co-owner of the company after Ukrainian law enforcement agencies opened the proceedings. At the time of the delivery of the questionable jackets, he still headed it.

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