Ukraine’s prime minister offered to resign after an audio recording suggested he had criticised the president – but his offer was rejected.
Oleksiy Honcharuk announced his resignation amid mounting pressure after he was caught on tape seemingly suggesting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy knows nothing about the economy.
Mr Zelenskiy called the tape situation “unpleasant” but said he had decided to “give a chance” to his prime minister.
He said it was not the time to shake the country politically.
The recorded conversation reportedly took place during a meeting in December between the prime minister, finance minister and officials from the central bank.
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.
More from World
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”.
“It is not true,” he added.
Image: A recording appeared to suggest Oleksiy Honcharuk had criticised the president
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”.
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”.
:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker Activity
Mr Zelenskiy, a former comic actor with no previous political experience, 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