© Thomas COEX / AFPUkraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Ukrainian president reportedly told journalists not to mention the issue until the end of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

President Vladimir Zelensky has allegedly ordered Ukrainian journalists to avoid reporting on corruption, the editor-in-chief of the Zerkalo Nedeli ('Mirror of the Week') news outlet has claimed.

The Ukrainian president told journalists not to mention the issue until the end of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, according to a leading Kievb outlet.

Speaking at the National Media Talk 2023, Yulia Mostovaya said that she had learned of Zelensky's demand from colleagues who had attended an off-the-record meeting with him.

The president reportedly made the request after the Ukrainian press published reports about inflated food prices paid by the country's armed forces.

According to Ukrainian media reports, including Zerkalo Nedeli, the Defense Ministry had been buying food and clothing for its service members at prices two to three times higher than the market price. For example, the ministry paid up to 17 hryvnia ($0.47) for a single egg and 22 hryvnia ($0.60) for a kilogram of potatoes, while the average prices for those goods at stores in Kiev at the time were about seven hryvnia ($0.19) and eight hryvnia ($0.22), respectively.

Mostovaya stated that Zelensky's request to avoid the topic of corruption in media publications was something the Ukrainian press may have considered if Zelensky had presented it in a "balanced manner" and explained that reporting on such issues could affect Ukraine's battlefield capabilities.

"We would accept these conditions if the president had said: 'Here is a person. Here's his phone number. If you have substantiated facts, please provide them to this person, he will immediately pick up the phone. And give us a week to respond. If there is no reaction within a week, send it to print.'"

However, no such proposal was put forward by Zelensky, Mostovaya claimed, noting that instead the president told reporters to "remain silent until victory."

"If we remain silent, there will be no victory," the editor-in-chief said.

The issue of corruption in Ukraine has repeatedly been brought up by journalists and officials, both within the country and in the West.

Last week, the former president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, stated that Ukraine will likely be unable to join the EU anytime soon because it is "corrupt at all levels of society." He also urged Brussels not to make any "false promises" to the Ukrainian people who are already "up to their neck in suffering."

Ukraine has for years been seen as among the most corrupt countries in Europe and was ranked 116th out of 180 in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index for 2022.