This development comes just weeks after the former head of the Defense Ministry, Oleksiy Reznikov, was replaced by Rustem Umerov over allegations of corruption. (Related: Zelensky's billionaire backer jailed, now facing $13.5 million in fraud and money laundering charges.)
The six deputy defense ministers were joined in their dismissal from the government by State Secretary Kostiantyn Vashchenko. Sources that spoke with Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda alleged that the seven officials had resigned upon the request of Umerov over their associations with the former defense minister.
Among the six dismissed deputy defense ministers are Volodymyr Gavrylov, Hanna Maliar, Denis Sharapov and Rostyslav Zamlynsky. Additionally, Deputy Minister of Defense for European Integration Andriy Shevchenko and Deputy Minister of Defense for Digital Development, Digital Transformations and Digitalization Vitaly Deinega were also dismissed.
"Rebooting. We started. We continue. Ministry continues to work as usual. The rest of the news will come later," wrote Umerov in a Facebook post when the news broke of the dismissals.
Umerov previously talked about how he will do "everything possible and impossible for the victory of Ukraine. He has defined victory for Kyiv as "when we liberate every centimeter of our country and every one of our people."
Julia Struck and Maryna Shashkova, writing for the Kyiv Post, noted that it is standard for deputy ministers and other high-ranking ministry officials to be dismissed whenever the head of the ministry changes. Most of those who were fired or resigned are either reassigned to their old posts by their new bosses or are appointed to different positions in government.
No allegations have been made against them regarding their possible involvement in the corruption scandal that embroiled Reznikov. In fact, Deinega believes that he will be reappointed when he posted on Facebook that he looks forward to cooperating with Umerov.
"The new minister and I will resolve our differences and then I will provide a comprehensive update," wrote Deinega. "I believe that we both have expectations from each other and it will take time for us to align our strategies."
Reznikov was removed from his post earlier this month after a scandal involving the defense ministry's procurement of military jackets at three times their actual cost. Reznikov has denied all of the allegations against him, but he has agreed to resign.
Zelensky announced his decision to dismiss Reznikov on Sept. 3, saying that the Defense Ministry "needs new approaches and other formats of interaction both with the military and with society as a whole." The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, voted to accept Reznikov's resignation as head of the Defense Ministry on Sept. 5. Umerov assumed the role on the next day, with the overwhelming endorsement of the Verkhovna Rada.
Zelensky claimed that Umerov will be able to carry out his agenda of strengthening the central role of the Defense Ministry during the war, ensuring the protection of the country's soldiers, expanding international partnerships, speeding up innovation and, most importantly, curbing corruption and reforming the military to keep up with North Atlantic Treaty Organization standards.
"People are not expendable. Their time and energy are valuable to our state," said Zelensky, who believes Umerov will be able to carry out his agenda as well as reduce the time- and energy-consuming bureaucratic procedures that hamper the ability of Ukrainian troops to do their duty.
"Anything that can be digitized should be digitized. Any unnecessary bureaucracy should be eliminated. Anything that can save lives and protect the health of our soldiers must be identified and provided to our troops," Zelensky added. "I am sure that Rustem Umerov is able to provide it.
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Watch this clip from the "Worldview Report" discussing how Zelensky himself has been accused of money laundering, selling Western weapons and taking Russian money.