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Media: Defense Minister likely to be replaced

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 31, 2023 10:24 AM 2 min read
Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov holds up a military jacket during press conference on Aug. 28, 2023, in Kyiv. Reznikov gave press conference after a series of scandals involving the Ministry of Defense's procurement of food and ammunition at boosted prices. (Photo: Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov is likely to soon be dismissed, Ukrainska Pravda reported on Aug. 31, citing government sources.

His potential replacement is Rustem Umerov, the chairman of the State Property Fund of Ukraine, according to Ukrainska Pravda's sources.

The reports about Reznikov's likely dismissal come amidst a procurement scandal in the Defense Ministry.  

Earlier in August, an investigation by Dzerkalo Tyzhnia said that the ministry had signed a contract with a Turkish company in September 2022 on the purchase of $33 million worth of "winter" clothes for the military, which were, in fact, summer clothes.

Dzerkalo Tyzhnia also uncovered that the documents accompanying the shipment had been manipulated. The price of some jackets worth around $29 was in another document reportedly "amended" to $86.

The investigation added to the pressure against the defense ministry's leadership, already facing several corruption scandals, such as the procurement of food products for the military at inflated prices uncovered in January.

Reznikov said on Aug. 25 that he is ready to resign if the reports that the military procured uniforms for an inflated price are confirmed.

Yaroslav Zhelezniak, a lawmaker for Holos, said on Telegram that Reznikov could be moved to the post of ambassador of Ukraine to the U.K.

President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.K., on July 21.

Reznikov was appointed Defense Minister in 2019, having previously held the position of Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories.

The minister began his career as a lawyer and headed a high-profile law practice before entering politics in 2014 upon his election to Kyiv City Council.

In 2020, Reznikov became a member of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, following his appointment in 2019 to become a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Contact Group.

The group was a negotiation format that was formed in 2014 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to facilitate a resolution between Ukraine and Russia following Russia's invasion of Donbas.  

Who is Umerov?

Umerov began his career in business, founding the investment company ASTEM. He was elected as a lawmaker for Holos in 2019.

Umerov is of Crimean Tatar origin and focused much of his political career on the rights of Crimean Tatars in Russian-occupied Crimea. He also worked as an adviser to Mustafa Dzhemiliev, the leader of the Crimean Tatar Assembly in Ukraine.

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, Umerov was selected to join the Ukrainian negotiation delegation.

Ukrainska Pravda said that Umerov did not confirm nor deny whether he would move to a new post.

Reznikov denies dishonest scheme in procurement of military clothing
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov during a press conference on Aug. 28 refuted reports that the defense ministry had procured summer jackets instead of winter ones for inflated prices, Ukrinform reported.
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