Kiev, Jul 15 (EFE).- The Ukrainian parliament approved the resignation of the interior minister Arsen Avakov on Thursday.
In a surprising move, Avakov filed his letter of resignation on July 13, providing no reason for his decision.
Avakov was the longest serving minister in the current Ukrainian government. He became the minister of internal affairs in February 2014 immediately after the Maidan revolution, in which he participated and which ended in president-elect Viktor Yanukovych being ousted and his government overthrown.
Avakov held his position under two presidents, Petro Poroshenko and current leader Volodimir Zelenskiy. During that time, his influence grew, and he is deemed by commentators to be one of the most influential figures in Ukraine, after the president.
Avakov has a mixed track record. He was praised for quelling a separatist uprising in his native city of Kharkiv in spring 2014, when Russia-backed militants tried to occupy government buildings, as they did in nearby Donetsk and Luhansk.
At the same time, Avakov has also been accused of failing to efficiently implement police reform, which was initiated in 2015. Calls for his resignation have intensified after several incidents of police abuse over the last two years, including the killing of a 5-year-old boy by a drunk policeman and the rape of a witnesses at a police station in the Kiev region.
Avakov also faced criticism for failing to properly investigate two high-profile murder cases: one of an activist from the southern city of Kherson, Katerina Handziuk, in 2018 and of Pavel Sheremet, a journalist of Belarusian origin, who was killed in a car bomb in Kiev in 2016.
The Ministry of Interior spokesman contacted by EFE declined to comment on the reasons behind Avakov’s resignation, although MPs from the ruling party Servant of the People suggested that it was likely because of the botched investigation into the Sheremet case.
Avakov also faced allegations of corruption and of supporting far-right movements in Ukraine.
On Friday, the Ukrainian parliament is supposed to vote on Avakov’s successor as the minister of interior. The ruling party Servant of People proposed the candidature of Denis Monastirskii, 41, current head of the parliamentary committee on law enforcement. EFE