Ukraine’s prime minister has offered his resignation over claims he criticised the country’s president.
Speculation over Oleksiy Honcharuk’s position has intensified in recent days after a recording emerged in which he appeared to suggest President Volodymyr Zelenskiy knows nothing about the economy.
It is reported the conversation took place during a meeting in December, between the prime minister, finance minister and officials from the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU).
Image: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is a former comic with no previous political experience
Mr Honcharuk has insisted the recording was doctored and made up of different parts of what had been said in government meetings – but did not say whether it was his voice or not.
Central bank officials and the finance minister have declined to comment.
Announcing his resignation on Facebook, Mr Honcharuk said: “Its contents artificially create the impression that my team and I do not respect the president, who is our political leader”.
Image: A recording appeared to suggest Oleksiy Honcharuk had criticised the president
“It is not true,” he added.
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He also praised Mr Zelenskiy as “a model of openness and decency”, but explained the reason he was offering to quit was to “remove any doubts about our respect and trust in the president”.
But shortly afterwards, he appeared to suggest he might keep his job after replying “do not jump to conclusions” when asked if would actually stand down.
Image: Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Donald Trump
Appearing in parliament today, he reiterated his respect for the president, adding that Ukraine must remain united in the face of what he called “information attacks and manipulations”.
He received a standing ovation from some politicians but others shouted “shame on you”.
The office for Mr Zelenskiy, a former comic actor with no previous political experience, said it would consider the resignation letter later on Friday.
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Mr Zelenskiy swept to power in an election last year despite public anger over high-level corruption.
The president has asked law enforcement agencies to find out who was responsible for the recording and how to prevent similar incidents.
The scandal comes as he finds himself caught up in Donald Trump’s impeachment case.
The US president is accused of withholding nearly $400m (£307m) in military aid to Ukraine to pressure the country’s leader to investigate Trump political rival Joe Biden.
Source : Sky News