Cabinet of Ministers appoints Olena Duma as Head of Asset Recovery and Management Agency

At a meeting on Friday, the Cabinet of Ministers appointed Olena Duma as head of the Asset Recovery and Management Agency, reported MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak. This was later officially confirmed by the Cabinet's representative in the Verkhovna Rada, Taras Melnychuk.

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Prior to the appointment, Duma won an open competition, gaining the required six votes from the members of the competition commission.

The results of the voting caused discontent among many civil society organizations, including the Anti-Corruption Action Center and Transparency International Ukraine, after which one of the commission members announced that he was withdrawing his vote for Duma.

Among the complaints against Duma are the lack of professional experience, in particular related to criminal justice, political bias, and alleged business contacts with individuals suspected of treason and cooperation with Russia, including the former head of the Crimean branch of Ukraine’s Security Service Oleh Kulinich.

The most serious objection is that in 2019, Duma took part in a press conference with Sam Kislin, a financial donor to Rudolph Giuliani, which means that she "directly participated in attempts to discredit her country and the current US President" Joe Biden.

Duma herself denies any allegations against her.

Even the Group of Seven paid attention to the results of the ARMA competition.

"The G7 closely followed the process of appointing the head of ARMA and noted civil society's concerns about the procedures followed. It is important to follow proper procedures to build trust in ARMA," the ambassadors said in a statement.

Who is Olena Duma?

Duma started her career as a lawyer in various private companies. Then she moved to the civil service. During her career, she was an advisor to the Minister of Environmental Protection. Later, she worked as Deputy Head of the Legal Department in the same ministry.

She also worked at the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, the Social Insurance Fund, the State Registration Service, and the Verkhovna Rada's Secretariat.

Duma worked at the Social Insurance Fund from January to May 2020. She was dismissed "due to numerous facts of gross violations of labor and compulsory state social insurance legislation". She tried to challenge this decision in court but lost the appeal. To defend her position in the media, Duma turned to ZIK TV channel, which was then owned by pro-Russian politician Viktor Medvedchuk.

Her last job in civil service in 2021 was at the Chernihiv Oblast State Administration, where she was the deputy head. At that time, the head of the regional administration was Anna Kovalenko, the wife of Ruslan Khomchak, the Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2019-2021.

Together with Anna Kovalenko, Olena Duma worked at Valentyn Nalyvaichenko’s NGO Anti-Corruption Movement. Duma was an active member of the movement, and Kovalenko was a co-founder.

Since August 2021, Dmytro Zhoravovych had been acting head of the ARMA.