Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky sacked all 33 regional military recruitment office directors for taking bribes from war-averse civilians and other malfeasance.
The president said in a furious video address after a National Security and Defense Council meeting that a state probe into recruitment centers across Ukraine had found abuses ranging from illegal enrichment schemes to smuggling draft dodgers across the border despite a wartime ban, as the New York Post reported.
“In total, there are already 112 criminal proceedings against the officers of the ‘military committees,’ 33 suspects,” Zelensky said.
Last month, a bribery scandal in Odessa's recruitment office sparked the massive probe.
“This system should be managed by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribery in time of war are high treason,” Zelensky fumed.
"Soldiers who have been to the front or who cannot be in the trenches because they have lost their health, lost their limbs, but have saved their dignity and have no cynicism," Zelensky remarked. "They can handle this recruitment process.”
The president promised to hold “every military commissioner against whom there is a criminal investigation accountable.”
Zelensky advised terminated recruitment chiefs who are not under investigation for wrongdoing to lead the struggle for Ukraine "if they want to keep their epaulets and prove their dignity."
However, the army will never replace criminal punishment. He warned that officials who mistook epaulets with profits will be criminally tried.
Zelensky said General Valery Zaluzhny, the ground forces commander, will fire the accused crooks.
Ukraine has sacked or prosecuted several prominent officials for corruption as it seeks European Union membership.
After local media claimed that his family had bought luxurious real estate in Spain, the recruitment center head in Odessa was jailed on suspicion of unlawful enrichment in July.
Ukraine's long-awaited counteroffensive has been hampered by Russian resistance in the form of massive southeastern minefields, making Friday's mass sacking all the more difficult.