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Ukraine's President Says Former Officials Living In State Property On The Cheap


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (left) and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pose for a picture during a meeting in Kyiv on May 6. Blinken and other Western allies have pressed Kyiv to do more against corruption.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says former officials who served under his predecessors are still living in elite, state-owned properties on the cheap and promised to address the situation.

During a May 14 meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, Zelenskiy said he will investigate who lives in over 100 state-owned recreation houses and cottages in an elite neighborhood outside Kyiv.

The president said former judges, prosecutors, ministers, and state officials continue to live in the homes and cottages on 400 hectares of land. He said they not only pay low rent but also get reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the cost of renovations.

Under former President Petro Poroshenko, "the government legalized the stay on these lands and in these residences, for a very symbolic fee, for a number of obscure people," Zelenskiy said.

Zelenskiy said officials who served under President Viktor Yanukovych, including former Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk and former Health Minister Raisa Bohatyryova, still use state residences.

Yanukovych was toppled in 2014 following street protests, with many of his closest advisers and ministers fleeing the country.

Officials from Poroshenko's administration, including former Deputy Prime Minister Hennady Zubko, also live in state-owned homes, Zelenskiy said.

Poroshenko is Zelenskiy's closest political rival, according to recent polls. The two have a tense relationship and the Zelenskiy administration has launched criminal investigations into the former president and his associates.

The announcement appears to be the latest in a series of populist moves in recent months by Zelenskiy to tackle low-hanging corruption in an attempt, analysts say, to boost his sagging popularity.

Zelenskiy, who defeated Poroshenko in 2019 with more than 70 percent of the vote, has seen his support dip below 30 percent.

However, Western governments have been pushing him to do more to improve the rule of law and corporate governance.

With reporting by the Kyiv Post
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