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Ukrainian trade minister tenders resignation

He accuses the president's friend of putting pressure on him.

Ukrainian trade minister tenders resignation
Aivaras Abromavicius
Photo: zn.ua

Economic Development and Trade Minister Aivaras Abromavicius has tendered his resignation.

He announced this at a briefing whose original topic was privatization.

"Today I decided to tender my resignation from the post of the minister of economic development and trade of Ukraine," he said.

"The reason is the sharp activization of the blockade of any systemic and important reforms in our country. This is no longer simply a lack of support or political will. This counteraction is aimed at paralyzing our reformist work. From suddenly depriving the minister and his family of security guards to putting pressure to plant dubious persons on my team and the key posts at state companies," he added.

"I can interpret these actions only as an incessant attempt to set up control over cash flows. First of all, in the national joint-stock company Naftohaz [Ukrayiny] and in the defence sector. I refuse to work in this system. I and my team are not ready to cover for the restoration of old schemes and the creation of new ones in the interests of certain political and business players," the minister said.

"Neither I, nor my team want to be a smoke screen for outright corruption or marionettes for those who want to control state money the way the previous authorities did. I do not want to go to Davos to talk about our successes while issues are being settled behind my back in the interests of certain people. These people have names. And I will name one of these. This is Ihor Kononenko," Abromavicius said.

"As a representative of the political force which nominated me for the minister's post, he has done a lot recently to block my and my team's work. Now the MPs of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc who are controlled by Kononenko have prepared a resolution on my dismissal and filed it with the help of the Rennaissance faction in the Supreme Council [Ukrainian parliament]. It has collected as many as 18 votes over several months. Over the year Ihor Kononenko has been lobbying for his people to be appointed as director-general of Ukrtransamiak. Kononenko was directly interested in Ukrtransamiak where, instead of dismissing Party of Regions member [Viktor] Bondyk, he put his own people who ruled the company together with him. A Petro Poroshenko Bloc MP directly controlled by Kononenko was putting pressure during appointments to Derzhzovnishinform, powder metal companies and the National Accreditation Agency of Ukraine," he said.

"The peak of this HR arbitrariness and striving to fully subdue the flows is his wish to have his own deputy in the Economic Development Ministry in charge of [Ukrainian oil and gas company] Naftohaz [Ukrayiny] and other state companies. A candidate simply brought the whole package of documents for his appointment and said: 'I want to be your deputy. I am a member of the Kononenko team and my candidacy has been approved from above.' Later I got a call from the presidential administration during which I was strongly recommended to accept this person and another one as deputy for defence. I answered: 'I will not be part of this carve-up.' and asked to be dismissed. After all, Kononenko said that he would like me to report to the faction and will consider my dismissal. I decided to make it easier for Kononenko and his team and so I am tendering my resignation," he said.

"My team and I are ready to step down as soon as possible. No way should it be dragged for weeks or months. I ask the Supreme Council to accept my resignation as soon as tomorrow," he said.

Abromavicius became the economic development and trade minister in December 2014 on the quota of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc.

Later in the day Kononenko dismissed the allegations as an attempt to shift responsibility for Abromavicius's failures.