Ukraine’s parliament approves new interior minister

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian lawmakers approved the appointment of a new interior minister following the resignation of a powerful predecessor who had been in office since 2014.

Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s longest-serving interior minister, stepped down earlier this week. Parliament accepted his resignation Thursday.

On Friday, lawmakers approved President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s appointment of Denys Monastyrskyy, a lawmaker from the ruling Servant of the People party, as the new interior minister.

Monastyrskyy, 41, previously served as 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.

Avakov has been widely viewed as one of the most influential Cabinet members in Ukraine. He 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.

In 2014, Avakov played a key role in efforts to counter a Russia-backed separatist uprising in eastern Ukraine. He helped form volunteer battalions that spearheaded the fight against the rebels in the early stages of the ongoing conflict, which erupted weeks after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

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