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Ukrainian agriculture minister submits resignation amidst allegations of land fraud

Investigations show that Solskyi and the head of Geocadastre manipulated legal processes to unlawfully transfer state land to private entities.
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) issuing notices of suspicion
The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP) issuing notices of suspicion to the suspects. Source: NABU
Ukrainian agriculture minister submits resignation amidst allegations of land fraud

Mykola Solskyi, the Minister of Agrarian Policy, has tendered his resignation following accusations involving substantial land fraud amounting to nearly 500 million UAH.

The news was made public by Ruslan Stefanchuk, the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, via a Facebook post today.

The scandal surrounding Minister Solskyi involves accusations of illicit dealings with state land, which purportedly took place between 2017 and 2018, prior to his appointment as minister. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP) allege that Solskyi, alongside other suspects, orchestrated the unlawful appropriation of approximately 2,500 hectares of state land valued at 291 million UAH and attempted to seize an additional 3,300 hectares worth 190 million UAH.

Investigations reveal that Solskyi, in collaboration with the head of the State Service of Ukraine for Geodesy, Cartography, and Cadastre (Geocadastre), manipulated legal and bureaucratic processes to transfer land from state-owned enterprises to private individuals under false pretenses. These lands were then slated to be leased back to agricultural holdings controlled by Solskyi and his associates, effectively privatizing state assets without due process.

The implications of these allegations are profound, not only for Solskyi but for the entire agrarian policy framework of Ukraine. The case reflects Ukraine’s ongoing fight against corruption, particularly in sectors that are vital for the country’s economy such as agriculture. Solskyi’s resignation is one more example showcasing Ukraine’s efforts to reform its agricultural sector and align its practices with European standards, especially amid ongoing negotiations about Ukraine’s potential accession to the European Union.

In response to the allegations, Solskyi has stated that the disputed transactions were legal and involved military veterans legally entitled to the land. He emphasized that any disputes over the land had been settled by the Supreme Court, which upheld the veterans’ claims. Solskyi has pledged full transparency and cooperation with ongoing investigations to clear his name.

Ukraine has been making significant strides in its anti-corruption efforts, especially in recent years, with notable achievements and ongoing challenges.

Since the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014, Ukraine has focused on enhancing its anti-corruption framework, establishing key institutions like the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO). These bodies are crucial in investigating and prosecuting high-level corruption cases. NABU, in particular, has been proactive in addressing corruption at high levels of government and business. For instance, NABU has been involved in several high-profile cases, including those against former top executives, reflecting its critical role in Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts.

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