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.