Ukraine's Zelensky fires defence chief amid major graft allegations
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky fires defence chief amid allegations he signed off on inflated uniform deals for ‘tripled price’ and replaces him with the head of Ukraine’s privatisation fund
- Defence minister Oleksii Reznikov was fired amid major graft allegations
- He will be replaced by the head of Ukraine’s main privatisation fund
- The major shakeup comes as Zelensky cracks down on corruption
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky has fired his wartime defence chief amid allegations he signed off on deals for military uniforms for a ‘tripled price.’
Zelensky said on Sunday during his nightly address to Ukrainian citizens that he has dismissed defence minister Oleksii Reznikov, 57, and will ask Ukraine’s parliament to confirm his replacement, Rustem Umerov, the head of Ukraine’s main privatisation fund, this week.
‘Oleksii Reznikov has gone through more than 550 days of full-scale war. I believe that the ministry needs new approaches and other formats of interaction with both the military and society at large,’ he said in the video.
While Reznikov, who has been in charge of Ukraine’s defence ministry since before Russia invaded the country, was key to its war effort, he has been dogged by serious allegations of graft, which he has denied.
The outgoing defence minister was accused of signing off on a deal with a Turkish company for winter uniforms that were ‘tripled’ in value.
Volodmyr Zelensky (pictured) said on Sunday during his nightly address to Ukrainian citizens that he has dismissed defence minister Oleksii Reznikov
Outgoing defence minister Oleksii Reznikov (pictured) was mired in several allegations of corruption
Reznikov will be replaced by Rustem Umerov (pictured), a 41-year-old politician from Crimea who has headed Ukraine’s State Property Fund since 2022
Ukrainian journalists also proved that the military uniforms could’ve been bought at a significant lowered price.
He said in response to the allegations at the time: ‘I urge everyone to treat information more critically and responsibly, because it misleads society and, worse still, it misleads our partners, as from outside you’d say it is a disaster.
‘Everything was done in accordance with the law on public procurement… [and ‘via tender procedures.’
Reznikov was also mired by a top-level graft investigation, which alleged that Ukraine’s defence ministry had signed off on a food and catering contract worth 13 billion hryvnias (£278 million) that was hugely inflated.
While Reznikov did not personally sign off on this deal, critics said he was ultimately responsible, and pointed to his zero-tolerance policy on corruption.
Reznikov was mired by a top-level graft investigation that alleged his ministry had signed off on a hugely inflated food contract
Zelensky has been cracking down on corruption as Russia’s invasion continues
He admitted at the time that his ministry’s anti-corruption services ‘failed in their task.’
Reznikov, who has not yet commented on his dismissal, is set to be replaced by Rustem Umerov, a 41-year-old politician from Crimea who has headed Ukraine’s State Property Fund since 2022.
The fund’s role is to sell of publicly owned assets to the private sector in a big for ‘economic growth involving international and domestic investments.’
The politician also helps represent Ukraine on the world stage, acting as the deputy head of its permanent delegation to the Council of Europe.
The change of defence minister must be approved by parliament, but is likely to be supported by a majority of lawmakers in the Verkhovna Rada. Zelenskiy said he expected parliament to approve Umerov’s appointment.
This isn’t the first time top-level Ukrainian politicians and officials have been booted out for allegations of graft and corruption.
Zelensky fired all officials in charge of military recruitment earlier this month in bid to root out corruption within the defence ministry.
Earlier this week, a former deputy minister of economy was named as a suspect in an alleged embezzlement scheme involving the procurement of humanitarian aid.
In May, the head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court was detained in a bribery investigation.
And in an earlier shake-up last summer, Zelensky had dismissed the director of his domestic intelligence agency and prosecutor general, also in the wake of allegations of corruption and mismanagement.
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