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Ukraine has set up a probe against five top defense officials after 79 out of the army's tested 100 bulletproof vests could be pierced by weapons, and hence offered insufficient protection to the forces.
“All five suspects are high-ranking defense officials: the head of the main directorate, his two deputies, and two heads of department. 79 out of 100 bulletproof vests that were tested could be pierced by a firearm they are supposed to protect against,” Roman Truba, the director of the State Bureau of Investigations (SBI), was quoted as saying by Kyiv Post on Tuesday.
In July 2019, the State Bureau of Investigation uploaded a video on its official YouTube channel highlighting discrepancies between the body armor purchased and technical requirements is explained. In particular, the armored plate failed to withstand a ballistic resistance test to a 7.62 mm rifle bullet (three shots – one penetration) and an 5.45 mm AK-74 automatic rifle bullet (three shots – one penetration), UNIAN reported in the same month.
Some 20,000 armored vests were purchased, verification of which showed that three out of five vests failed tests; officials and suppliers were aware of the fact that the gear did not meet the requirements, but still made these purchases. Some 11,000 vests were seized. Also at inflated prices, 100,000 sets of military uniforms and defective tents were purchased, the report said.
The officials are being accused of grave inaction in conspiracy between April and June 2019, which led to the procurement of poor-quality Corsair MZs1-4 vests. The fraud reportedly runs losses of nearly UAH 100 million (a little over $4 million).
According to Prosecutor General's Office report, an official who worked at the Main Directorate for Material Support of the Armed Forces, supposedly acted “intentionally and by prior conspiracy with four other officials of said directorate, from April to June 2019, contrary to the interests of the service, failed to perform actions they had to perform. This led to the procurement of substandard 11,000 Corsair MZs1-4 bulletproof vests worth a total of nearly UAH 100 million. The pre-trial investigation is under way.”
Suspects are facing remand in custody pending trial.