Ukraine wartime reconstruction chief quits over ‘systemic obstacles’

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A top Ukrainian reconstruction official known for his reform efforts resigned on Monday, citing budget cuts and bureaucratic delays, at a time when Kyiv seeks crucial international investment to rebuild after Russia’s invasion.

The resignation of Mustafa Nayyem, head of the State Agency for Restoration and Infrastructure Development, comes a day before a major international conference in Berlin dedicated to mobilizing international support for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

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“I made the decision on my own due to systemic obstacles that do not allow me to continue to effectively exercise my powers,” Nayyem said on messaging app Telegram.

“Starting from November last year, the Agency’s team began to face constant opposition, resistance and the creation of artificial obstacles,” he said, which included delays in payment for defense fortifications.

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Nayyem hailed his agency’s work on restoring roadways and bridges in recaptured areas, building a critical water pipeline after the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam and protecting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure amid Russian air strikes.

The prominent former lawmaker also criticized a government decision to prevent him from travelling to the event in Berlin, as well as the dismissal of the deputy prime minister for infrastructure, another critical wartime official, last month.

Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov has said his dismissal was not discussed with him in advance and that he did not get a chance to defend his tenure in a presentation to parliament.

Both Kubrakov and Nayyem, who was appointed in January 2023, had helped anti-corruption authorities uncover suspected graft during sting operations last year.

“I do not exclude that in time there will be attempts to persecute and discredit our work in the public domain,” Nayyem wrote.

“In fact, this has already been happening for a long time,” he said, alleging that his team “did not always fit in” to the current government and its style of management.

The government must approve Nayyem’s resignation before choosing a successor.

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