Ukraine Prime Minister Honcharuk Hands in Resignation (UPDATED)
17 January, 2020
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine

Update: The President of Ukraine Zelenskyy has announced in a late January 17 meeting with Prime Minister Honcharuk that he's giving him a "chance" and won't be putting up his dismissal for parliamentary voting, provided he fulfils a number of conditions before February 4 and reports on his successes in this on February 14. The tasks include: 1) Creating a new concept for adequate salaries for employees of "all the ministries, all institutions...and any other state companies." If anybody's not happy with their (adequate) salaries, let them go, Zelenskyy said. 2) Sorting out the situation with the bonuses that Naftogaz management is supposed to be getting after receiving $2.9 billion of settlement fees from Russia's Gazprom. Earlier Naftogaz director said the bosses would be getting 1% of the fee each. 3) Detecting the weak points in the Cabinet of Ministers' professionalism, i.e. among the ministers, and "replacing them." 4) Disuniting some ministries — namely the Ministry of Economics, and "possibly" Ministry of Culture, and Ministry of Veterans. These ministries were earlier merged with other ministries per Zelenskyy's request, but now he finds that measure ineffective. 5)​ Fixing the dialogue between the Cabinet of Ministers and members of parliament, so that MPs have a better understanding of the bills they vote for. 

The Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk has filed in a resignation note to the President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Without Zelenskyy's approval and a subsequent vote in the parliament, however, Honcharuk and his team will remain in their positions.

Honcharuk voiced the decision to resign on his official Facebook page. He cited a media scandal regarding a leaked audio recording as the reason he is forced to ask to resign.

An audio recording of a conversation allegedly between Honcharuk, the Deputy Head of the National Bank of Ukraine Kateryna Rozhkova, and Finance Minister Oksana Markarova was leaked online on January 15.

In the conversation, a voice sounding similar to Honcharuk says that "Zelenskyy has a very primitive understanding of economic processes."

Although, according to media reports, the leaked recording sparked outrage within the presidential Servant of the People party, the audio's veracity was neither confirmed nor denied by the Cabinet of Ministers whose press service issued a statement regarding it.

The head of the Servant of the People faction, David Arakhamia, told journalists on January 16 that the audio was edited together from different excerpts recorded at different times for sensationalism purposes. He also revealed that, according to their preliminary internal mock voting, if Honcharuk's dismissal was put up for voting in the parliament, it would get around 10 votes in favor from his 247-strong faction.

Hromadske's sources within the government also say that it is highly unlikely that the resignation will be seriously considered as most of them oppose it. 

Reacting to the scandal on January 16, Honcharuk released a video address claiming that a "media attack" was launched against his team. 

"But you won't manage to intimidate us! We will be even more persistent in eradicating corruption and blocking [corruption] channels," the Prime Minister is seen saying in the video published early on January 16. "The fight continues and I'm confident that we will win."

The official Telegram channel of Zelenskyy's team confirmed that the president received the resignation letter.

"The President of Ukraine has received a resignation letter from the Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk," the message on the channel reads. "The head of the state will consider it. The Office of the President of Ukraine will report the results of the review separately."

A number of Ukrainian ministers have already shown their support for Honcharuk's decision and said that they're waiting for Zelenskyy's reaction. According to the laws, if a prime minister is dismissed, his or her team would have to leave with them.

/By Maria Romanenko