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7 Sep, 2023 11:15

Ukraine’s new defense minister investigated for corruption – media

A court has reportedly ordered launch of a criminal case against Rustem Umerov and his now-former deputies
Ukraine’s new defense minister investigated for corruption – media

Ukraine’s newly-appointed Defense Minister Rustem Umerov is under investigation by the nation’s anti-corruption bureau for alleged crimes in his previous position, according to local media.

In late August, the High Anti-Corruption Court (VAKS) reportedly ordered the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to look into complaints against Umerov and two of his now-former deputies in the State Property Fund (FGIU), the agency that he led before taking over the military portfolio earlier this week.

The news was broken on Wednesday by outlet Comments.ua, which claimed to be in possession of a copy of the court ruling. FGIU leadership figures were accused of abusing their power in dealing with Tsentrenergo, Ukraine’s only state-owned electricity-generating company.

The complaint claimed that three officials had covered up Tsentrenergo’s sale of electricity below market price and obstructed a proposed investigation into embezzlement, the Comments.ua report said.

VAKS, which has jurisdiction over corruption cases in Ukraine when alleged damage surpasses a certain threshold, told the anti-corruption bureau that the complaint warrants an investigation, according to quotes from the ruling.

A related story was reported on Monday by news outlet Ukrainski Novini. It said the national police was investigating FGIU over its decision last month to sack independent members of the Tsentrenergo supervisory board.

A court in Kiev has ruled that the state fund acted unlawfully when it dismissed the two observers. The controversy with the board was reportedly mentioned in the complaint, which VAKS cited in its decision to investigate Umerov and his subordinates.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, according to a summary of the development offered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, has “fired one defense minister over corruption but would not launch an investigation and instead appointed another minister, who is being investigated for corruption.”

The Ukrainian parliament appointed Umerov at Zelensky’s request on Wednesday in a landslide vote. The president announced the replacement of Aleksey Reznikov, the previous minister, last Sunday, stating that the department required “new approaches.”