Ukrainian agriculture minister under suspicion of orchestrating land-grab scheme

    WORLD  24 April 2024 - 09:07

    POLITICO has published an article saying suspect alleged to have illegally obtained state-owned land worth €6.9 million. Caliber.Az reprints the article.

    Mykola Solskyi, the Ukrainian agriculture minister, is suspected of being involved in the illegal acquisition of millions of euros worth of state land before he joined the government.

    The country’s anti-corruption agency, NABU, leveled the allegations without directly naming Solskyi.

    The agency said “a current minister” was being treated as a suspect in an investigation into the illegal acquisition of state-owned land worth 291 million hryvnias (€6.9 million) and attempting to seize land worth another 190 million hryvnias (€4.5 million).

    News outlet RBC-Ukraine cited law enforcement naming Solskyi as the suspect.

    According to NABU, Solskyi led a group that was involved in the misappropriation of farmland in the northeastern Sumy region between 2017 and 2021 before he became part of the government cabinet.

    Under the guise of a government agricultural land use program, that group allegedly destroyed documents affirming the rights of state-owned enterprises to the land, then transferred those rights to individuals associated with the group.

    In a statement, Solskyi said he would cooperate with authorities and stressed that the activities under investigation predate his time in government and relate to his years as a lawyer.

    “I guarantee maximum openness to establish the truth, but there is no need for this — all data is open to law enforcement, and the evidence and arguments of the parties are being considered by the courts,” he said.

    NABU said that its intervention prevented the “criminal group” from acquiring an additional 3,300 hectares of land valued at nearly €4.5 million.

    Solskyi and alleged accomplices have been placed under official suspicion, the agency added.

    The 44-year-old, who owns several agricultural businesses and is one of the wealthiest Ukrainian officials, is the highest-ranking minister in President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's government to be named as a suspect in a criminal case. Last year, NABU accused one of his deputies of participating in an embezzlement scheme involving the procurement of humanitarian aid.

    Solskyi was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in 2019, and appointed agriculture minister in March 2022 shortly after Russia invaded the country.

    In recent weeks, Ukrainian media reported that he had fallen out of favor with Zelenskyy and was being considered for dismissal.

    Caliber.Az

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