© Reuters. Rustem Umerov, head of the country’s main privatisation fund, attends a meeting in the president’s office, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 16, 2022. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS
KYIV (Reuters) -President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has proposed Rustem Umerov, head of Ukraine’s main privatisation agency, to serve as the country’s wartime defence minister. Umerov’s candidacy must be approved by parliament before he is appointed.
Here are some facts about Umerov, who would replace Oleksii Reznikov as defence minister:
* Umerov, 41, is a Crimean Tatar, a Turkic people from the Black Sea (NYSE:) Ukrainian peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014. He was born in Samarkand in Uzbekistan to a Crimean Tatar family that was deported from then Soviet Crimea in the 1940s. Since 2020, Umerov has been a member of a Ukrainian government task force working on the strategy to end the occupation of Crimea.
* In September 2022, Umerov, then a lawmaker from the pro-European Holos party, became head of the State Property Fund, an agency selling state assets to private investors. He is credited with turning round an institution that has frequently been mired in corruption scandals. He also relaunched sales of state property, raising record proceeds for the state during the war.
* Umerov, described as a talented negotiator by people close to him, was a member of the Ukrainian team that held negotiations with Russia in March 2022, one month after Russia’s full-scale invasion. He also took part in talks on the Black Sea Grain deal and on exchanges of prisoners, including Ukraine’s Azov fighters who were captured during the battle for the southern city of Mariupol in 2022. He was a member of the delegation during a visit by Zelenskiy to Saudi Arabia in May, and accompanied first lady Olena Zelenska during a visit to the United Arab Emirates in March.
* Umerov began his career in the private sector. He joined one of Ukraine’s leading mobile operators in 2004. In 2013 he set up his own investment company, ASTEM, and its ASTEM Foundation. He has a bachelor degree in economics and masters in finance.