Ukraine's defence minister taps new deputies after corruption scandal

NATO defence ministers' meeting in Brussels
Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov attends the NATO defence ministers' meeting at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, February 14, 2023. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

KYIV, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Ukraine's defence minister chose three new deputies on Tuesday after a corruption scandal beset his ministry nearly a year into his country's fight to repel a Russian invasion.

Oleksii Reznikov, who has pledged to tackle graft after a media report that his department bought food at inflated prices, tapped a general, a civic activist and a former diplomat for the posts.

One of Reznikov's deputies resigned last month following the allegation, which the ministry has denied. Two others, Ivan Rusnak and Oleg Haiduk, were dismissed on Tuesday.

Senior officials last week rowed back on an initial announcement that Reznikov would also be replaced.

Ukraine's government said it had confirmed Lieutenant-General Oleksandr Pavliuk, who briefly served as Kyiv region governor during the early days of Russia's invasion, as the most senior of his deputies.

Andriy Shevchenko, a former ambassador to Canada, and Vitaliy Deyneha, an IT professional who co-founded an NGO that raises funds for the military, were nominated as junior deputies.

Shevchenko would be responsible for communications at home and abroad, and Deyneha for digital development. Reznikov, in a Facebook post, called that sector "one ...where Ukraine is capable of a breakthrough and can create new global standards."

The appointments follow a series of public pledges by Reznikov, including to reboot his ministry's anti-corruption department and bring experts and civic activists into anti-graft efforts, aimed at showing transparency.

Reznikov thanked Rusnak and Haiduk for their service and said they would remain at the ministry as advisors.

Reporting by Max Hunder, editing by Dan Peleschuk and John Stonestreet

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