Last week, the volunteer movement in Ukraine was shocked and surprised by a big scandal related to the theft and sale of humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian military personnel.
On May 5, 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine detained the editor-in-chief and the owner of the Mind.ua Eugene (Yevhen) Shpytko, and an ex-official of the L’viv Regional State Administration Roman Matys (Mathis) in L’viv. They are accused of embezzlement of humanitarian aid.
During the time of martial law, Eugene Shpytko and Roman Matys participated in the illegal sale of military equipment and munition. The detainees received humanitarian aid from Ukrainian philanthropists. According to the investigators, they have also appropriated voluntary donations. Money was withdrawn through various bank terminals and branches.
Matys and Shpytko were detained during the sale of a batch of bulletproof vests and military helmets for the needs of the Armed Forces in the amount of almost $18,000 US dollars. During the search and seizure procedure, several bulletproof vests, military helmets, money, and other evidence were found.
On May 7, the Galitsky District Court of L’viv chose a preventive measure in the form of detention with the right to deposit bail in the amount of around $60,000 (for each person).
According to the law “On Amendments to the Criminal and Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine on Responsibility for the use of Humanitarian Aid during Martial Law”, no. 7146 adopted in March 2022 by the Verkhovna Rada, Roman Matys, and Eugene Shpytko may be detained for the term of 3-7 years with or without confiscation of their property.
Ukrainian journalists and activists provided the following information on these people profiting from humanitarian aid in wartime.
Roman Matys is the owner and director of the International Investment Office consulting agency. He is also a former chairman of the Investment Policy Department of the L’viv Regional State Administration, who was fired after a scandal.
The editor-in-chief and the main owner of the Mind.ua website (owned by Future Media LLC) Eugene Shpytko has also been involved in multiple scandals and court proceedings over the past few months. He was accused of deceiving partners and advertisers by amending the statistics of his website and pages on social networks. After the publication of these facts, a significant part of advertisers decided to terminate agreements with Mind.ua.
According to the media, a few years ago Eugene Shpytko stole the Facebook page and the Twitter account of Forbes Ukraine (owned by the international Forbes Holding), which form the intellectual property of the mentioned holding.
Eugene Shpytko and his Future Media LLC engaged in several lawsuits with financial companies, banks, and individuals. Those cases were related to libel and protection of honor and business reputation. Eugene Shpytko and his lawyers could not support their position, thus losing several times in a row. At the beginning of 2022, the executive service seized the accounts of Future Media LLC as part of the execution of a court decision to recover moral damages and court costs in the amount of several thousand US dollars.
According to journalists, Eugene Shpytko, his employees, and acquaintances were suspected of participating in rigged contractual state tenders.
Ukrainian and international society expects Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, Prosecutor General of Ukraine Irina Venediktova, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, and other officials to bring this high-profile case to an end and punish the perpetrators. The reputation of thousands of Ukrainian volunteers who help the military and civilians should not suffer because of such extraordinary cases.