President Zelensky discloses his annual income to bring transparency to his country

President Joe Biden welcomes Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On January 28th, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky published two years worth of his income in an effort to improve transparency ahead of talks on the future membership of Ukraine in the European Union according to NBC News.

Zelensky has called on all public officials in the country to disclose their incomes and he opted to lead by example, revealing his family’s financial assets and liability for the fiscal years of 2021 and 2022. Here’s what the details divulged.  

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, President Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelensky earned a combined total of 10.8 million hryvnia, which Reuters reported was equivalent to roughly $286,168 dollars, in 2021, which was down from 2020. 

In 2021, the declared Zelensky family income reported to the government decreased by roughly 12 million hryvnia, or $465,000. The Zelensky family’s income also continued its decline into 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine.  

The Zelensky family income fell by 3.7 million hryvnia as a direct result of the war and a loss in rental income from real estate that the family owned and lost due to the invasion, a fact that was commented on in a government statement. 

“The income of the President’s family in 2022 decreased due to the temporary termination of lease agreements on the territory of Ukraine as a result of the beginning of Russia’s full-scale aggression against our country,” the statement read. 

Most of Zelensky and his wife’s income in 2021 was earned from salaries, bank interest, and the renting out of real estate, all of which amounted to a total of just over 5.4 million hryvnia or $191,764 according to the government statement. 

The total income earned by Zelensky and his family in 2022 amounted to a bit over 3.6 million hryvnia, or roughly $127,000 dollars. However, other assets were noted to have been owned by Zelensky in the fiscal period that was detailed. 

“Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues to own a number of trademarks. In particular, in 2021, the process of registering 22 trademarks, which began long before his election as President of Ukraine, was completed,” the government statement explained. 

The Zelensky family ended 2022 with a cash balance that had decreased by roughly 1.8 million hryvnia ($63,921) while the president’s family had no other changes in assets, real estate, vehicles, or anything else in 2021 or 2022.

Kyiv has formally begun the screening process to start discussing the future of Ukraine and its possible membership in the European Union, a key component of which is an increase in government transparency and to root out corruption, NBC News reported.

This process may explain why Zelensky has chosen to publish the details of his family income from 2021 and 2022, something that Reuters noted was the first time that the Ukrainian President has publicly done so since taking office. 

The move will likely also help Ukraine as it seeks more military and financial aid from Western countries, many of which Reuters noted have worried about corruption, as well as from international bodies like the International Monetary Fund. 

Zelensky’s public declaration of his income comes just as Ukrainian officials announced one of the most concerning corruption schemes uncovered in the country, one that saw five officials charged with embezzling state funds. 

In August 2022, defense officials signed a contract for 100,000 mortar shells. However, the shells were never delivered even though the money for them was paid in advance according to a BBC News report on the corruption scandal. 

“According to the investigation, former and current high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Defence and heads of affiliated companies are involved in the embezzlement,” the Ukrainian Security Service said. 

Ukraine’s Security Service noted that nearly 1.5 billion hryvnia (roughly 40 million) was stolen by defense officials and managers of the arms firm Lviv Arsenal, but added that stolen funds had been seized and returned to the country’s defense budget.  

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