Ukraine's Zelenskiy says stop “rumors” as defense minister stays
By Pavel Polityuk
KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on Tuesday for an end to the spread of "rumours or any other pseudo-information" that could undermine unity in the war against Russia.
His remarks, in an address to parliament, appeared intended to end public speculation over whether Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov will be removed and underline that only the president can take and announce such decisions.
David Arakhamia, a senior lawmaker and ally of the president, said on Sunday Reznikov would be replaced after a corruption scandal at the ministry.
A day later, Arakhamia said there would be no personnel changes this week, appearing to row back after Zelenskiy kept silent on Reznikov's future and other politicians publicly defended the minister's record.
"We are taking personnel and institutional steps at various levels in the defence and security sector that can strengthen Ukraine's position," Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app, citing his speech to parliament.
"The necessary information is provided as regards each such step, whether personnel or institutional - at the level where decisions are made," he said, underlining that such decisions were the responsibility of only the president.
Zelenskiy offered thanks to all who help preserve the unity of Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia nearly 12 months ago.
"I thank everyone who refrains from spreading any rumours or other pseudo-information that could weaken the focus of our people in their work for the victory of Ukraine," he said.
"It is only by helping our country, not allowing the enemy to play with the emotions of our people and doing everything possible for our warriors to have more weapons that we can ensure Ukraine's success. And we will!"
The questions over Reznikov were the first public sign of serious disarray in Ukraine's wartime leadership.
The confusion followed a crackdown on alleged official wrongdoing as Zelenskiy seeks to show that Kyiv can be a safe steward of billions of dollars of Western aid.
Reznikov said earlier on Tuesday that he was "holding the line", and showed no sign of stepping aside.
"Thank you all for your support, as well as constructive criticism. We draw conclusions. We continue the reforms. Even during the war. We are strengthening the defense and working for victory," he wrote on Twitter.
(Editing by Timothy Heritage)