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Effective negotiator: Things to know about the new Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov

Effective negotiator: Things to know about the new Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Rustem Umerov (Photo: RBC-Ukraine, Vitalii Nosach)

The New Minister of Defense of Ukraine is Rustem Umerov. He replaced Oleksii Reznikov, who had been heading the Ministry since November 2021 in the government of Denis Shmyhal.

More about Rustem Umerov - in a material by RBC-Ukraine.

Short biography

He was born in 1982 in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) into a family of engineers, Enver and Meriem Umerov, originally from Alushta. He is an ethnic Crimean Tatar and a Sunni Muslim.His family was deported from their historical homeland to Central Asia in 1944. With the beginning of repatriation in the 1980s and 1990s, the Umerovs returned to Crimea.

Rustem Umerov graduated from the Crimean Gymnasium-Internat for Gifted Children of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. He received higher education at the National Academy of Management, where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in Economics and a master's degree in Finance.

During his student years, he participated in various projects and programs, including:

  • Canadian-Ukrainian Parliamentary Program
  • American-Ukrainian Leadership Program
  • European Youth Parliament
  • AEGEE European Student Forum
  • Summit "Forum of the Future"
  • European Association of Law Students

He also obtained another higher education degree in Informatics and Information Technologies from the National Technical University of Ukraine "Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute."

He is married and has three children.


Rustem Umerov began his career at the lifecell company, where he worked from 2003 to 2010, progressing from head of department to head of the legal support and logistics departments. He was also involved in investment activities.

In 2013, he co-founded the investment company ASTEM and the charitable foundation ASTEM Foundation with his older brother Aslan Umerov.

The ASTEM company manages investments in communications, information technology, and infrastructure. The ASTEM Foundation is one of the donors of the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders program at Stanford University. This program trains Ukrainian politicians, lawyers, social entrepreneurs, business people, and civic leaders.

In the 2019 parliamentary elections, he was elected to the Verkhovna Rada and became a member of parliament from the "Holos" (Voice) party. In 2022, he became the head of the State Property Fund of Ukraine.

Public and Political Activities

Since 1999, Umerov has been engaged in public activities to address the issues of Crimean Tatars. In 2007, he became a co-founder of the public organizations "Zemlyatstvo of Crimean Tatars" and "Bizim Qirim," which dealt with social, cultural, political, economic, and informational matters.

After graduating from university in 2011, he became the founder and president of the "Crimea Development Fund." He worked on this project for five years and during that time, he became acquainted with human rights defender and dissident Mustafa Dzhemilev, becoming his assistant.

In 2012, he founded the "Crimean International Business Association" (CIBA), and his family initiated the restoration of the Ortajame Mosque in Bakhchisarai, a historical architectural monument dating back to the 16th-17th centuries.

In 2014, together with like-minded individuals, Umerov established the charitable foundation Evkaf Ukraine and funded the creation of the "Cultural Heritage Fund." He actively participated in political processes, representing the interests of Crimean Tatars in government circles.

He was a delegate to the Kurultai of the Crimean Tatar people during the fifth (2007) and sixth (2012) conferences.

In the extraordinary parliamentary elections of 2019, he ran as a candidate under No. 18 on the "Holos" (Voice) party's lists. He was elected to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as an independent candidate. He was appointed as the secretary of the parliamentary committee on human rights, de-occupation, and reintegration of temporarily occupied territories.

He initiated a bill to abolish the free economic zone in Crimea, which stipulates that Ukraine will not supply water to the occupied peninsula until its liberation.

He also advocated for laws concerning indigenous peoples and the status of the Crimean Tatar people. The first law was adopted in July 2021, while the second was withdrawn under registration number 1205.

With Dzhemilev, he was one of the initiators of the construction of 1,000 apartments for internally displaced Crimean Tatars with the support of Türkiye. In 2021, a framework agreement was signed and ratified to construct 500 apartments: 200 in Mykolaiv, 200 in Kherson, and 100 in Kyiv.

As a deputy, he co-authored around 100 bills, including one related to the procedure for recognizing stateless individuals, allowing such people to reside in Ukraine and obtain relevant documents legally. This law came into effect in July 2021.

In August 2021, he received the Order "For Merits" of the III degree.

International activities

While serving as a Member of Parliament (MP), Rustem Umerov held the position of Deputy Head of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). He was also the co-chair of interparliamentary groups with Türkiye and Saudi Arabia and a member of friendship groups with Israel, China, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Canada.

In the summer of 2021, PACE adopted a resolution concerning the violation of the rights of Crimean Tatars in Crimea. In January of the same year, during a PACE session, he raised the issue of human rights violations by Russian occupiers on the peninsula. He also addressed the compulsory vaccination of Ukrainian citizens in Crimea during the COVID-19 pandemic with a vaccine that had not passed the third stage of clinical trials.

After the full-scale invasion of Russia in the spring of 2022, he became part of the Ukrainian delegation, conducting several negotiation rounds. He participated in meetings in Belarus and Istanbul.

Deoccupation of Crimea and the Crimean Platform

In December 2020, he became the co-chair of the inter-factional association "Crimean Platform" in the Verkhovna Rada. Its goal is to implement the parliamentary track within a unified state strategy for the de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea.

The association is preparing around 20 bills related to the temporarily occupied peninsula, including those concerning the status of the Crimean Tatar people and amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine regarding Crimea.

Umerov actively participated in exchanging Crimean political prisoners and prisoners of war. In 2017, he contributed to releasing political prisoners Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov.

In March 2020, he initiated parliamentary hearings on the de-occupation and reintegration of Crimea and Sevastopol. In September of the same year, he joined the group responsible for developing the strategy for the de-occupation of the peninsula under the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.


In September, Rustem Umerov took over as the head of the State Property Fund. Before this, after the dismissal of Dmytro Sennychenko, the fund had been without a leader since February.

Umerov held this position for a year and managed it without any corruption scandals. On the morning of September 4, he submitted his resignation. MP Yaroslav Zhelezniak ("Voice" party) expressed that Umerov, as a negotiator, would be no less effective than Oleksii Reznikov.