Controversial Ukrainian Interior Minister Avakov resigns after seven years in office amid allegations of corruption and far-right ties
One of Kiev’s oldest and most notorious political titans, veteran Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced on Tuesday afternoon that he would step down from his duties as oversight of internal security and the police in Ukraine.
In a statement posted on the Interior Ministry’s Facebook page, Avakov wrote that he had “Submitted a letter of resignation” from the post and thanked the heads of the department “for the years of working together. Thank you to every officer, private and employee. The honor was mine. he added.
Avakov had been the longest-serving government minister, first appointed in 2014 after the country’s Maidan, and outlasted former President Petro Poroshenko. He was widely regarded as one of Ukraine’s most influential and best-connected politicians.
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In recent months, the longtime minister has been harassed by opposition critics over what they saw as the slow pace of law enforcement reform, including the prosecution of those implicated in the murders during the violence in 2014. Five years after the bloody clashes, which left at least 100 pro-Maidan militants dead, 36 officers suspected of being involved in crimes are still reportedly working in force.
In addition, Avakov’s son Oleksander became involved in a dispute over alleged corruption, as well as the country’s former deputy interior minister over allegations of questionable transactions in connection with the award of ‘a state contract worth over half a million dollars. However, the case was closed by prosecutors in 2018 on what officials said was a “Lack of evidence”.
Avakov has also been criticized in the West for his perceived close ties to the far-right Azov Battalion, an ultranationalist paramilitary force that consistently flaunted Nazi iconography and has been linked to extreme violence. In the United States and other countries, there have been numerous calls to ban the group as an extremist organization.
Last year, the Ukrainian parliament’s law enforcement committee proposed to consider Avakov’s sacking, with the committee unanimously supporting the resolution. However, President Volodymyr Zelensky opposed the appeals, saying that “there is still no better minister”, and that Avakov was a “magnificent” no one to have in government.
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