The Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science continues to be in a fever with personnel decisions. So, on May 19, 2023, the head of the department, Oksen Lesnoy, appointed two deputies: Andrey Stashkiv and Mikhail Vinnitsky.
And almost immediately a scandal broke out around one of the top appointees. After all, as soon as the public examined the biographies of officials, it turned out that at least one of them has extensive experience not only in the scientific field, but also in matters related to personal enrichment. We are talking about Mikhail Vinnitsky, whose activities in his previous place were marked by a corruption case.
What is Deputy Minister Vinnitsky hiding? Does Deputy Oksen Lisovoy really have a criminal trail? And will the Cabinet of Ministers react to such a background of an official who is capable of casting a shadow on the reputation of an entire government department? Investigative journalists from StopCor investigated.
From 2014 to 2020, Vinnitsky was an adviser to three ministers at the Ministry of Education and Science and headed the secretariat of NAZYAVO, the National Agency for Quality Assurance in Higher Education. The body is responsible for the quality of higher education, accreditation of educational programs and monitoring of universities.
It was precisely at this time that a loud corruption scandal broke out around Mikhail Vinnitsky.
In 2020-2021, when Mr. Vinnitsky headed the NAME secretariat, he hired his wife Martha as his official subordinate and repeatedly awarded her bonuses.
In July 2021, NAPC sent an order to the Agency demanding the dismissal (or transfer to another place of work) of one of the spouses of the violators.
The court of first instance found Vinnitsky guilty of the violation, but the official initiated a counterclaim on behalf of NAZYAVO for the alleged absence of corpus delicti. However, the appeal also decided the case not in favor of the official. The final verdict in the case shows that the official’s guilt has been proven. However, the case was closed due to non-compliance with the time frame.
Although now it turns out that Vinnitsky nevertheless fulfilled the order, because he received a promotion and moved from NAME to the Ministry of Education. At the same time, the head of the department, Oksen Lesnoy, called the media publications about the corruption violation of the deputy discrediting.
“They are trying to label Mikhail as a corrupt official, distorting and manipulating the facts,” – the minister wrote on Facebook.
But the information that journalists learned from state real estate registers reveals a number of interesting facts that presumably complement the corruption puzzle.
The Vinnitsky family owns a premium SUV – a gray Volvo XC90. The cost of such a car in the official Volvo showroom starts from UAH 2.2 million. In addition, Mikhail and his family have two apartments in the very heart of Kyiv – on Nizhny Val Street, in Podol. They purchased both houses in 2015. Also, according to the registers, Vinnitsky’s wife is the owner of a large house near Kiev, which, obviously, the couple built not so long ago.
As the media write, an official may have another source of income – his own business. According to the information and analytical platform YouControl, Mikhail Vinnitsky is a co-founder of the Expo Plaza Exhibition Center, whose authorized capital is almost 150 million hryvnia. But the most interesting thing is that his business partners, according to information from open registers, are Igor Kolgatin, an ex-assistant of People’s Deputy Granovsky. This is the same Alexander Granovsky, who is now involved in a criminal case regarding the illegal takeover of the Odessa International Airport and UAH 2.5 billion in income from its activities.
And the icing on the cake: the Deputy Minister of Education can still hold citizenship of two countries. Let us remind you that Mikhail Vinnitsky was born in Canada, moved to Ukraine in 2003, and in 2019, by decree of the 5th President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, he received Ukrainian citizenship.
It turned out that in addition to dubious partners and methods of earning a family fortune, it is worth taking a closer look at Mikhail Vinnitsky’s trips abroad. So, in 2020, when crossing the state border, he provided a Canadian passport, although the year before he had already received a Ukrainian one. And in Ukraine, dual citizenship is prohibited by law.
Mikhail Vinnitsky himself refuses to explain all these facts, he does not respond to calls and letters from journalists, and the Ministry of Education replied that Mr. Deputy Minister is on a business trip. Moreover, no one knows where exactly and for what period.
StopCor is already preparing an appeal to law enforcement agencies and the Cabinet of Ministers so that they also give their assessment of the identified violations. And we will continue to study signs of corruption in the actions of the top management of the Ministry of Education.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a degree in journalism from a well-renowned university. I am currently an author at Daily News Hack, where I mostly cover politics news. I have a vast amount of experience in the field and I am always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow.