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According to Maxim Stepanov, a disinformation campaign is underway to force Kiev to purchase the Russian vaccine.
Ukrainian Health Minister Maxim Stepanov said on Tuesday that vaccine purchases are being hampered by “attacks” on his department by the anti-corruption agency NABU.
NABU this month launched an investigation into the procurement of Chinese Sinovac vaccines through the intermediary importer Lekhim. Stepanov denies any wrongdoing.
Ukraine lags behind most European countries in procurement of vaccines against COVID-19 and has not yet started mass vaccination.
The corruption scandal escalated this week when the government announced a new law on the status of NABU, which the Anti-Corruption Center called revenge for an investigation and a ruse to force the dismissal of NABU head Artem Sytnik.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy denies that NABU’s independence is under threat and assures that the wording of the law has been discussed with the International Monetary Fund, which has not yet commented..
The text of the bill, which requires parliamentary approval, has not yet been made public.
Any threat to the independence of NABU, created with the support of Western donors, could prevent the flow of foreign aid to Ukraine during a period when its economy is weakened due to quarantine due to coronavirus.
However, Stepanov said that corruption charges are costly for Ukraine. “Ukraine is already losing the confidence of vaccine manufacturers,” he said during a morning briefing.
According to Stepanov, the disinformation is designed to disrupt the Ukrainian vaccination campaign and force the country to purchase the Russian Sputnik V vaccine..
Last week, Reuters reported that Sinovac vaccine shipments to Ukraine could be delayed until April.
Ukraine expects to receive additional loans under the $ 5 billion IMF program this year, but the fund said on Saturday that first Kiev should carry out more reforms.
Zelenskiy’s adviser Mikhail Podolyak said a new law on NABU is needed to address the problems outlined in last year’s ruling by the Constitutional Court to create the agency. He also assured that the bill does not pose any threat to NABU..
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