Ukrainian interior minister close to the far right resigns
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, known for his neo-Nazi ties, has resigned his post in President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government. No reason for his surprise resignation has been revealed.
Avakov was the oldest minister in the country. He spent seven years in his post from 2014 under former President Petro Poroshenko, who came to power after a far-right US-EU-backed coup in Kiev. He continued after Zelensky defeated Poroshenko to run for president in 2019. In addition to serving under two different presidents, Avakov also maintained his post through four different prime ministers.
As Interior Minister, Avakov oversaw the country’s internal security forces, including local and national police, as well as the recently reformed Ukrainian National Guard, made up of members of the country’s various fascist militias such as the Azov Battalion. . Thanks in large part to Avakov – who maintains a personal friendship with the leader of the Azov battalion, Andriy Biletsky – the open fascists have essentially won the full support of the Ukrainian state.
Under his watch, fascist thugs were given carte blanche to terrorize and attack journalists, assault ethnic minorities and carry out targeted assassinations, including the murder of a three-year-old boy in a political assassination attempt. failure.
In almost all cases the perpetrators have never been arrested, given light sentences, or any actual prosecution has been limited to low-level attackers without any attempt to cover up those who gave the order to carry out political violence. of right.
Demonstrating the close ties between Avakov and his far-right thugs and Washington, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch hailed Avakov during the 2019 impeachment hearings against US President Donald Trump.
In Ukraine, Avakov is considered both one of the country’s most powerful and hated political figures. 80% of the Ukrainian population had a negative opinion of Avakov’s tenure in a 2020 opinion poll.
In 2017, Avakov’s son Oleksander was embroiled in an embezzlement scandal involving the purchase of military weapons at inflated prices with government funds. Despite the blatant corruption of a family member, Avakov remained Minister of the Interior and the charges against his son were quickly dropped.
In June 2020, hundreds of protesters from various political backgrounds gathered in Kiev to demand the resignation of Avakov after reports of alleged rape and torture of a woman by police not far from Kiev.
Despite the protests, Zelensky gave his support to Avakov and declared among the ministers “that there was no better” than Avakov and called him a “powerful minister”.
Avakov will spend another full year in office strengthening his public political profile. Amid a military crisis in Crimea and eastern Ukraine between Ukraine and Russia in the spring, Avakov played a leading role in fueling tensions by going to the front lines and inciting Ukrainian nationalists at war.
Using his Facebook page rather than the official government media, Avakov called on the “patriots”, using fascist language, to prepare for war and protect the “motherland”. He also suggested that Ukraine would fare better than in 2014 because of the more than $ 2 billion in military aid and equipment it received from the United States.
Throughout the seven-year conflict that claimed the lives of more than 14,000 people and displaced millions of people, Avakov maintained the most right-wing and militaristic positions regarding a possible peace deal with the separatist-controlled zones. by separatists from eastern Ukraine. Avakov and his far-right allies vehemently opposed any deal that would grant sovereignty or special status to separatist-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine, and deny Kiev full control of the region.
Although the reasons for Avakov’s resignation were not disclosed, reports surfaced on the Ukrainian news site Strana that Avakov had been ordered to resign during a meeting with the secretary of US Deputy State, George Kent. This may well be because Avakov and his far-right ties present a problem of public image for the United States as the Biden administration seeks to pose as the protector of “democracy” against Russia.
Other reports suggest that Zelensky ordered Avakov to resign after being frustrated with Avakov’s own political importance. Notably, last year Avakov refused to support the sanctions imposed by Zelensky against former President Petro Poroshenko, Avakov declaring that Poroshenko “was not an enemy of Ukraine”.
Despite his resignation, it is telling that Avakov was able to quietly withdraw from a post he held under two different US-backed administrations, without any of the murders, assaults and scandals he oversaw took place. ‘negatively affects his political career and his power.
On the contrary, reports from Russia Nezavisimaya Gazeta suggest that Avakov will now become a leading opposition figure and could become “the current government’s most dangerous opponent”.
Moreover, Avakov’s announced replacement, Denys Monastyrskiy, previously worked for Avakov’s partner and current Deputy Home Minister Anton Herashchenko. Monastyrskiy is also a member of Zelensky’s own People’s Servant party, suggesting that Monastyrskiy was placed in the position of compromise between Avakov and Zelensky.
Avakov’s resignation comes amid a deep domestic and foreign policy crisis. According to the Strana news site, Ukrainian political experts expect mass protests this fall due to rising gas and utility prices as well as rising consumer prices. Washington’s apparent attempts to ease tensions with Russia, including the recent summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden, have further fueled conflict within the Ukrainian oligarchy and the Zelensky government.
Whatever the details of Avakov’s resignation, it is clear that he will continue to hold substantial political power in Ukraine due to his influence on the far right, which plays an oversized role in Ukraine as he is essential for carrying out the war in eastern Ukraine and crushing working class opposition to Kiev’s domestic politics.
After his resignation, Ukrainian parliamentarians congratulated Avakov for having “saved Ukraine from the Russian world” and voiced only slight criticisms of his tenure.
Avakov himself embodies the right-wing trajectory of the old Stalinist bureaucracy turned oligarchy and expresses it in its most enraged and nationalistic form.
A former engineer, Avakov quickly became a capitalist after the dissolution of the Soviet Union by the Stalinist bureaucracy in 1991. He earned millions while creating a trading network comprising banks, natural gas fields, supermarket chains and factories.
In 2002, Avakov entered politics as an official of the Kharkov city council. He was then appointed governor of Kharkov province by President Viktor Yushchenko in 2005 after Avakov supported the US-backed âOrange Revolutionâ in 2004.
Avakov used his position to get rich and enrich his own Bazis bank by purchasing government assets in Kharkov through the bank. He was then forced to flee to Italy in 2011 after corruption charges following the election of Avakov’s political enemy Viktor Yanukovych as President of Ukraine.
Avakov eventually returned to Ukraine following the US-backed coup against Yanukovych in February 2014 and was appointed interior minister in the newly created government.
Through it all, like the rest of the ruling oligarchy in Ukraine, Avakov maintained his own personal wealth that would run into the hundreds of millions. While Ukraine is the poorest country in Europe, Avakov is known for its love of luxury. In 2018, Avakov purchased a 26-room villa on the Mediterranean coast of Italy worth over $ 900,000.