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5 Sep, 2023 11:13

Ukrainian parliament sacks defense minister

The vote follows the submission of Aleksey Reznikov’s letter of resignation, which he tendered at the president’s request
Ukrainian parliament sacks defense minister

Ukrainian lawmakers have overwhelmingly voted to relieve Aleksey Reznikov of his duties as defense minister. He tendered his resignation on Monday, a day after President Vladimir Zelensky announced plans to replace the official.

The vote tally, shared on social media by a member of parliament, showed 327 votes in favor of dismissing Reznikov, and just four against.

Reznikov had held the post since November 2021. He attended the parliamentary hearing to brief the legislature on what he considered his main achievements in office, such as securing massive amounts of Western military aid to fight Russia.

During his tenure, the Defense Ministry was embroiled in several corruption scandals. At various stages, senior officials were accused of procuring food for soldiers at inflated prices, and paying dubious firms for supplies that turned out to be sub-standard or simply never arrived. One recent scandal involved a regional conscription chief, who was charged with obtaining millions of dollars in illicit funds.

Some Western media have suggested that Reznikov’s failure to reign in the abuses, potentially undermining Kiev’s military campaign against Moscow, was the main reason for his dismissal. Politico described the sacking as a strong signal that Ukraine “is serious about cleaning up corruption”. US news website The Hill said the department under Reznikov was “plagued” with accusations, leaving many skeptical about his future employment.

Some more outspoken critics alleged that former minister was an active participant in the graft schemes, and was shielded from prosecution by his proximity to the president.

Zelensky explained his decision to remove Reznikov on Sunday, saying the Defense Ministry needed “new approaches.” The Ukrainian head of state named businessman Rustem Umerov, who had had previously led the State Property Fund, as his preferred candidate to take the job.