Ukrainian parliament appoints new interior minister

Kiev, Jul 16 (EFE).- Ukrainian MPs approved the appointment of Denis Monastirskii as the new interior minister on Friday with 271 votes in favour.

Addressing parliament before the vote, Monastirskii thanked the president Volodimir Zelenski, who nominated him, for his trust.

He said his priority would be “the safety of citizens and society, and building trust into the law-enforcement agencies”. He pledged to fight police abuse, the issue his predecessor Arsen Avakov was criticized for turning a blind eye to.

Monastirskii also promised to focus on Ukraine’s defence against Russian aggression. The National Guard, which, together with the armed forces, is part of the government’s military operation in the easern Donbas region of Ukraine.

“[Ukraine] has been fighting against Russian aggression for seven years. That’s why I plan to dedicate a big part of my work to strengthening our country’s internal resilience and defence in close cooperation with the defence ministry, General staff and Ukrainian intelligence,” Monastirskii said.

Monastirskii replaces political powerhouse Arsen Avakov, who led the interior ministry for seven years, and stepped down on July 13.

Avakov was accused of failing to efficiently implement police reform, which was initiated in 2015.

Calls for his resignation 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.

Monastirskii, 41, is a former head of the parliamentary committee on law enforcement. He is believed to be a firm supporter of the president, with his appointment strengthening Zelenskii’s grip on power. EFE

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