Ukrainian lawmakers have approved Denys Monastyrskiy as the country’s new interior minister, replacing Arsen Avakov, who resigned this week.
Monastyrskiy is a 41-year-old lawmaker from President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s Servant of the People party.
Parliament voted on July 15 to accept the resignation of Avakov, 57, one of Ukraine’s most powerful officials, who had been in charge of the ministry in the last four governments since 2014.
Avakov unexpectedly submitted his letter of resignation on July 13 without disclosing the reason for his move. His resignation came amid growing speculation that Zelenskiy would fire him for his failure to back certain decisions taken by the National Security and Defense Council, of which Avakov is a member.
Immediately after Avakov announced his intention to resign, Zelenskiy named Monastyrskiy as his successor, prompting speculation that the president had been planning to oust the long-serving official.
Avakov in March said he would not support imposing sanctions on Zelenskiy’s chief rival, former President Petro Poroshenko, adding he was not “an enemy of Ukraine.” Avakov served under Poroshenko, who is now under investigation for abuse of office charges he calls politically motivated.
Avakov was one of only two ministers from Poroshenko’s team to be invited to join Zelenskiy’s first government in 2019 headed by Prime Minister Oleksei Honcharuk. The other — Finance Minister Oksana Markarova — was fired in March 2020.
Avakov’s departure potentially strengthens the power concentrated in the presidential office, said former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst.
The interior minister controls most of Ukraine’s law enforcement bodies, from the National Police force down to local police departments, as well as the National Guard.
The border guards, Coast Guard, Emergency Situations Ministry, and Migration Service also fall under the control of the Interior Ministry.