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New U.S. Award Names Kyrgyz, Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Figures Among Its 12 Recipients

The editor in chief of a Kyrgyz investigative website and a former Ukrainian prosecutor-general are among 12 people who have been recognized by the U.S. State Department as anti-corruption champions.

The winners of the new International Anti-Corruption Champions Award were announced on February 23 by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who said in a statement that the award recognizes people who have worked tirelessly, often in the face of adversity, to combat corruption in their own countries.

Bolot Temirov, editor in chief of the Kyrgyz investigative website FactCheck, and Ruslan Ryaboshapka, who was forced out of his job as Ukraine's prosecutor-general last year in a parliamentary no-confidence vote, were among the recipients.

FactCheck and open-source investigative organization Bellingcat probed Raimbek Matraimov, the controversial former deputy chief of the Customs Service, and his relatives, who are at the center of an alleged corruption scandal involving the funneling of close to a billion dollars out of Kyrgyzstan.

Matraimov was rearrested this month on corruption charges and is currently in pretrial detention.

Temirov was attacked near his website's office in Bishkek in January 2020 after the investigation was published, prompting the United States and several media freedom watchdogs to call on Kyrgyz authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation.

Ryaboshapka was well-regarded by anti-corruption activists for his efforts to streamline and professionalize the scandal-ridden Prosecutor-General’s Office in Ukraine. He served as prosecutor-general from August 29, 2019, until he left the post on March 5, 2020.

Blinken said in the statement announcing the awards that corruption threatens security, hinders economic growth, undermines democracy and human rights, destroys trust in public institutions, facilitates transnational crime, and siphons away public and private resources.

“The Biden administration recognizes that we will only be successful in combating these issues by working in concert with committed partners, including courageous individuals who champion anti-corruption efforts and countries working to fulfill their commitments to international anti-corruption standards,” Blinken said.

The other honorees are Ardian Dvorani of Albania; Diana Salazar of Ecuador; Sophia Pretrick of Micronesia; Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro of Guatemala; Ibrahima Kalil Gueye of Guinea; Anjali Bhardwaj of India; Dhuha Mohammed of Iraq; Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla of Libya; Victor Sotto of the Philippines; and Francis Ben Kaifala of Sierra Leone.

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