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1 November, 2021
SBI investigators handed over the suspicion to the former Deputy Minister of Defenсe

He fed the servicemembers soup with worms - he was suspected of embezzling state funds. Investigators from the State Bureau of Investigation handed over the suspicion to the former Deputy Minister of Defence. It is likely about Igor Khalimon, who was responsible for the army’s food supply.

It became known in the spring of this year that the service members in the Armed Forces were fed poor-quality food. MP Solomiya Bobrovska told about it and published a photo of spoiled meat, vegetables, and fruit with mold. It also turned out that all this food was supplied by Viysktorgservice-Volunteer, a private monopoly company that serves all of the Armed Forces.

“How can the Armed Forces be fed by a company that tries to feed the military like animals and with all the worst and cheapest things that can be bought?”, the adviser to the Commander of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Alyona Shevtsova was indignant.

At the same time, the Ministry of Defence significantly reduced the costs of the supplier company by illegally concluding additional contracts. In particular, the transportation of food became the responsibility of the military, not the contractor’s company. A former deputy of the Ministry of Defence gave the relevant instructions to one of the department heads, the SBI found out during the pre-trial investigation.

The Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defence and Intelligence summoned Defence Ministry officials to a meeting. Then it addressed the Minister of Defence with a request to explain Igor Khalimon’s impropriety. Eventually, in July, he resigned as deputy defence minister.

Currently, the SBI, which is conducting a pre-trial investigation, reports that the former deputy minister gave instructions to the “head of one of the departments of the Ministry of Defence,” and he illegally entered into additional contracts with suppliers. Thus, former officials of the ministry were able to significantly reduce the costs of entrepreneurs with whom contracts have been concluded for the purchase of catering services for the Armed Forces for 2021. In particular, the transportation of food became the responsibility of the military itself, not the contractors.

This case is an example of effective parliamentary control in the security and defence sector. On the one hand, Ms Bobrovska highlighted the issue and then, according to her, she wrote parliamentary inquiries and hundreds of letters to all bodies so that such violations would not go unnoticed and so that the perpetrators could not escape responsibility. On the other hand, the relevant Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security did not allow this topic to be “silenced”: Defence Ministry officials were summoned to a meeting, and it was recommended to fire Igor Khalimon, which eventually happened. The Committee also invited the Minister of Defence to revise the eligibility criteria for public procurement for food supply in compliance with the principles of openness, transparency, and equality of all participants.

We are pleased to see how effective scrutiny by parliamentarians yields quality results, particularly in terms of reducing corruption. We hope that in this particular case, as a result of such control, the servicemembers’ nutrition will improve qualitatively.

Photo by Solomiia Bobrovska