Ukraine President Zelenskyy rejects PM’s resignation

Kyiv, Ukraine – Ukraine’s embattled Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk tendered his resignation following a scandal over what appeared to be leaked tapes of him lambasting the president’s “primitive” views on the economy.

But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused to accept Honcharuk’s offer to quit.

A man whose voice resembles that of Honcharuk is heard in three audio files posted on YouTube this week, which claim to be the recording of conversations between the prime minister and finance officials, including the finance minister.


Honcharuk, a 35-year-old lawyer who became Ukraine’s prime minister in August, is alleged to have said: “Zelenskyy has a very primitive understanding of the economy”, and is also heard describing himself a “layman” in economic matters.

Zelenskyy earlier said he would “consider” the resignation.

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s lower house of parliament – dominated by Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party – convened on Friday to discuss the resignation.

After the meeting, Zelenskyy refused the resignation bid.

“I decided to give you and your government a chance if you resolve some issues that are very important today and are of concern to our society,” the president told Honcharuk in a video released by his press service late Friday.

“Now is not the time to shake the country economically and politically.”

He instructed security officials to find the source of the leak.

“I demand that within two weeks, as soon as possible, we should get the information on who was recording,” he was quoted by his press service as saying.

Law enforcement agencies should “find who did it and work it all out,” he said.

Honcharuk blames ‘groups of influence’

Addressing the parliament earlier on Friday, Honcharuk said there had been attempts to sow distrust, but called for unity to prevail.

“Ukraine’s government keeps working as usual until the moment the president makes a decision,” he said.

“This is a political decision we are expecting from our political power.”

Some of the legislators shouted, “Get away!” after his speech.

Honcharuk also suggested unnamed powerful figures stood to benefit from his government being brought down.

“Many groups of influence, which are trying to gain access to financial flows, benefit from such presentation, but this is not true,” Honcharuk wrote on Facebook on Friday morning.

“I came to this post to execute the president’s programme. He is for me a model of openness and honesty. However, I wrote the resignation letter to the president with the right to submit it to Parliament to cast away any doubts of our respect and trust to the president.”

According to Ukraine’s constitution, only a parliamentary vote can dismiss a prime minister.

Honcharuk said on Friday the recording had been “doctored”, cobbled together from fragments of recorded government meetings.

“Its contents artificially create the impression that my team and I do not respect the president, who is our political leader,” Honcharuk said on social media.

He did not comment on whether it was his voice heard in the recording, but on Thursday said the furore would not “scare” him, as his government would be “even more stubborn in uprooting corruption and blocking the streams” of illegal financial operations.