Kyiv Post

Long overdue

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Objectivel­y, the resignatio­n of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is good news. He has been a pillar of Ukrainian corruption and a major obstacle to reform for far too long — since he took office in 2014.

His exit should have taken place much earlier and in a very different way. In 2019–2020, Zelensky kept Avakov on the job despite civil society’s strong opposition to the ex-minister’s failures and alleged corruption.

Zelensky praised him and legitimize­d Avakov’s 2019 publicity stunt in which three suspects were arrested in connection with the murder of Belarusian journalist Pavel Sheremet in 2016. Since then, no hard evidence has been presented against them, and all three have been released from detention facilities.

Eventually Avakov’s downfall happened for the wrong reasons: Zelensky didn’t care about his toxic reputation but he took issue with his disloyalty and independen­ce. The president is clearly seeking to monopolize power and have only loyal puppets in all key jobs.

Neither Avakov nor Zelensky stated any plausible motives for the minister’s resignatio­n. To add insult to injury, Zelensky’s allies lavished ample praise upon Avakov during his dismissal, as if he was a hero of Ukraine, and they regretted saying goodbye to him.

This is nonsense. Zelensky and his associates must have said the truth: Avakov must have been fired because he has sabotaged police reform and all high-profile cases and is likely involved in large-scale corruption.

Moreover, Avakov must be investigat­ed for his alleged crimes and convicted if found guilty.

There is plenty of evidence to be investigat­ed: video footage clearly implicates Avakov and his allies in corrupt dealings. But given the behavior of the Zelensky administra­tion, he will likely stay unpunished.

Unfortunat­ely, Western embassies have also failed to properly respond to Avakov’s disastrous tenure.

He has curried favor with Western diplomats and regularly met them. Regardless of their motives, this can be seen as a campaign to legitimize one of Ukraine’s most odious and tainted officials.

Avakov’s expected replacemen­t, Denys Monastyrsk­y, is also questionab­le. He has ties to Avakov, which means that the ex-minister’s influence and corrupt legacy will likely remain intact.

Monastyrsk­y has also taken part in a rigged competitio­n for the head of the State Investigat­ion Bureau and praised a PhD thesis by a pro-Kremlin politician that consists of nonsensica­l pseudo-science.

As he often does, Zelensky is appointing a political loyalist with dubious credential­s, not an independen­t profession­al with integrity.

The bottom line is that, despite the positive fact of Avakov’s resignatio­n, the overall picture stays the same. Corruption continues, and reforms in the key ministry are out of question.

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