Ukraine’s prime minister has submitted his resignation to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a day after audio files were posted online in which he reportedly criticised the president’s understanding of the economy.
Oleksiy Honcharuk, 35, announced his decision on social media on Friday morning.
He said the audio files had been “doctored”, cobbled together from fragments of other recorded speech to create the impression he and his colleagues did not respect Zelenskyy, a political novice who came to power after a career as a TV comedian.
“Many groups of influence, which are trying to gain access to financial flows, benefit from such presentation but this is not true,” Honcharuk wrote, according to the Kyiv Post.
“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 cast away any doubts of our respect and trust to the president.”
The president will consider the resignation letter, said Zelenskyy’s office.
The audio files appeared to be a recording from a December meeting of Honcharuk’s finance officials ahead of a Cabinet meeting with the president.
A voice, said to be Honcharuk’s, explains to “his colleagues” – including the finance minister – that Zelenskyy had misunderstood the strengthening of the national currency, and says the discussion with him had to be “simple”, because the president did not understand how the economy worked.
“Zelenskyy has a very primitive understanding of the economy,” the voice believed to be Honcharuk’s, said, adding that he himself was a “dummy” when it came to economics.
Reacting to the publication of the audio files, Honcharuk said on Thursday in a video address: “There have been many attacks in the media and online against me personally and the government.”
“This indicates that our team is on the right track. We have already blocked a lot of corruption schemes and are stopping robbers from continuing to rob the country.”