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Ukraine’s interior minister since 2014 submits resignation

July 13, 2021 GMT

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s interior minister announced Tuesday that he had submitted his resignation but didn’t give any reasons for his decision.

“I express gratitude to the team of the Interior Ministry for the years of joint work. Thanks to every officer, private, and employee,” read a concise statement from Arsen Avakov posted on the ministry’s website and accompanied by a scanned copy of Avakov’s resignation letter.

In office since 2014, Avakov is the longest-serving interior minister in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history. Parliament must accept the 57-year-old political heavyweight’s resignation, and lawmakers may consider it on Wednesday or Thursday.

Avakov has been widely viewed as one of the most influential Cabinet members in Ukraine. He has served as interior minister in four different governments and under two presidents, holding on to the post despite frequent government reshuffles and numerous corruption allegations.

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Avakov’s son was briefly detained in 2017 as part of an investigation into the alleged embezzlement of state funds allocated to the Interior Ministry for purchasing gear for Ukraine’s National Guard.

“There may be a thousand reasons for (Avakov’s) resignation,” Volodymyr Fesenko, a Kyiv-based political analyst and head of the Penta Center think tank, told The Associated Press. “But the fact that Avakov wrote the resignation letter himself means he intends to maintain partnership relations” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“No one wants to have a heavyweight like Avakov as their enemy,” Fesenko said.

On Tuesday night, Zelenskyy proposed naming Denys Monastyrskyy, a lawmaker from the ruling Servant of the People party, as a candidate to replace Avakov as interior minister. A vote on his appointment will take place Friday, lawmakers said after a meeting of the Servant of the People bloc in parliament.

Monastyrskyy, 41, is chair of parliament’s law enforcement committee and a member of the National Council on Anti-Corruption Policies. He said the decision to accept Zelenskyy’s offer was “the most difficult” of his life.