Ukrainian MP expelled over trip to Thailand
Lawmaker says 'official' visit was approved by party leaders but parliament speaker says otherwise
published : 27 Jan 2023 at 21:38
KYIV: Ukraine’s ruling party has kicked out a lawmaker from its parliamentary faction after reports that he had travelled to Thailand during the grinding war with Russia sparked a public outcry.
Party spokesperson Yulia Paliychuk said on Friday that Mykola Tyshchenko was expelled from the voting bloc of the Servant of the People party after an announcement appeared briefly on the website of the Ukrainian embassy in Thailand saying Tyshchenko would meet members of the Ukrainian diaspora at a hotel in Bangkok.
Tyshchenko said on Facebook he had been on a business trip in Asia with approval of party leaders, “acting exclusively in the interests of Ukraine”. Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk said he had approved no such trip.
The trip was not all work, but when Tyshchenko posted a video of himself swimming at a beach, it did not sit well with some people back home.
The winter visit to sun-soaked Southeast Asia comes amid a crackdown by President Volodymyr Zelensky aimed at projecting an image of greater accountability for officials.
More than a dozen senior officials were fired or resigned this week, including a deputy prosecutor who had come under fire in the press for a holiday in Spain, in the biggest shakeup of the Kyiv leadership since the war began.
Zelensky has announced a ban this week on private trips abroad by officials. Most Ukrainian men aged 18-60 have already been barred from leaving the country under martial law since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in Februrary last year.
Tyshchenko is no stranger to controversy. The owner of several fancy Kyiv restaurants, he also got into trouble during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Kyiv Post reported.
Despite a ban on the operation of restaurants during the lockdown, Tyshchenko’s restaurants never stopped operating. He also used to hold secret parties involving his close friends, businessmen, oligarchs, and Ukrainian lawmakers, the newspaper said.