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Ukraine's Top Traffic Cop Resigns Amid Evidence Of Lavish Lifestyle

  • RFE/RL

In the past, Oleksandr Yershov (right) has said most of the family's property is in his wife, Oksana's (left), name, meaning he owns very little on paper.

In the past, Oleksandr Yershov (right) has said most of the family's property is in his wife, Oksana's (left), name, meaning he owns very little on paper.

The acting head of Ukraine's traffic police has stepped down after reports from RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service and other media that showed he and his family appeared to be living far beyond the means of a public servant, with several luxury cars and a large villa.

On his Facebook page, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said he met with Oleksandr Yershov on May 19 and accepted his resignation.

Avakov also said a probe would be launched in the wake of the reports pointing to an extravagant lifestyle.

Yershov was appointed to the post on an interim basis just over a month ago.

President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to crack down on graft in Ukraine, where public anger over corruption helped spark the Maidan demonstrations that chased former President Viktor Yanukovych from power in February 2014.

According to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service, Yershov had failed to report income and a villa outside Kyiv, which neighbors say he has lived in for years.

In a telephone interview with RFE/RL on May 19, Yershov said he did not list the house in his income declaration because it lacked a formal address.

He also accused reporters of taking payments to write stories accusing him and his family of corruption.

In the past, Yershov has said most of the family's property is in his wife's name, meaning he owns very little on paper.

The latest public statement on his yearly income came In 2013, when Yershov declared his monthly take-home pay amounted to some 12,000 hryvnyas -- then about 1,000 euros. At the time, he was working as the head of the traffic police in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

RFE/RL reporters discovered that Yershov, his wife, Oksana, and two daughters, Anastasia and Darina, owned cars with a total market value of some $400,000. In the 2013 declaration, Yershov said he owned one vehicle.

Yershov's daughters have not been shy about flaunting the family's apparent wealth. The eldest, Anastasia, who owns her own clothing line, posed in front of a Porsche Cayenne for a photo uploaded on Instagram.

Her younger sister, Darina, took to Instagram in 2013 to show off a Range Rover, wrapped in a bow for her birthday.

Both daughters appear to be globetrotters, rarely flying economy class and avidly posting photos and selfies from their travels.

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service found that Anastasia has visited at least nine countries in the last six months.

Photos posted on social media show her yachting off Sardinia and posing in front of American socialite Paris Hilton in Cannes on the French Riviera.

Yershov says that what his daughters own and do is a result of their own success and not him. "It's their business -- I don't intervene," he told RFE/RL in an earlier interview.

Avakov appointed Yershov acting head of the traffic police on April 4. He replaced Oleksandr Sirenko, who was dismissed amid allegations of corruption.

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