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Zelensky moves to fire defense minister

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced on Sunday a plan to replace Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov. The decision will be considered by the country’s parliament next week, Zelensky said in a video address.

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The president proposed Rustem Umerov, the current head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, as the replacement.

Explaining his decision, Zelensky said the Defense Ministry “needs new approaches and new formats of interaction both with the military and society as a whole.” The president said that Umerov was “well-known” to the parliament and therefore did not require any further introduction.  

“I expect the parliament to support this candidacy,” Zelensky stated.

READ MORE: Ukrainian defense minister faces sack – MP

Umerov, a Ukrainian businessman of Crimean Tatar origin, took the helm of the State Property Fund last fall. He had previously served as an adviser to the former chair of the so-called Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Mustafa Dzhemilev. The organization has been outlawed in Russia since 2016 over extremist activities and links to other extremist and terrorist groups.

The impending removal of Reznikov had been the subject of extensive rumors over the past few weeks, with several potential successors, including Umerov, named by the media. Some of those identified, namely Infrastructure Minister Aleksandr Kubrakov and Strategic Industries Minister Aleksandr Kamyshin, reportedly declined the job offer.

Reznikov assumed the post back in November 2021, shortly before the conflict between Russia and Ukraine broke out. His tenure has been marred by multiple corruption scandals, primarily involving procurement of equipment and foodstuffs for the country’s military at abnormally inflated prices.

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