Ukrainian official charged with ‘pasta embezzlement’ released on bail
First Deputy Agriculture Minister of Ukraine Taras Vysotskyi

Ukraine’s high anti-corruption court on Thursday moved that Taras Vysotskyi, the first deputy agriculture minister charged with embezzlement on the purchase of pasta, be released on UAH 805,000 bail, Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne reported.

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Mr Vysotskyi is charged with embezzling money for the purchase of humanitarian aid in the early months of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in particular pasta, which allegedly led to more than UAH 62 million (~USD 1.7 million) in damages.

The agriculture ministry says Mr Vysotskyi is innocent and the charges are based on miscalculation.

At a court hearing on Thursday, the official’s lawyers presented pasta prices received from various retail chains, showing it ranged from an average of 60 UAH to more than 100 UAH last March.

My Vysotskyi himself pointed out that the purchase had been approved by the Kyiv civilian military administration at the time.

Prosecutors claimed, however, that it was possible back then to find cheaper products, and it appeared as though the agriculture ministry had pressured officials into paying more.

The official now has five days to post bail, or he could be brought to court by force.

Earlier, nearly 30 agricultural associations stood up for Mr Vysotsky, calling the accusations against him "unproven", "made at a time when the Ukrainian agricultural sector especially needs the support of world leaders".