Ukraine’s economy minister Aivaras Abromavicius resigned from his position today and unleashed a lengthy and scathing statement about why.
Effectively he said in a statement, emailed to journalists including Business Insider and available on the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine website, that senior figures within the government were blocking his attempts at reforming the country’s economy and that corruption was still widespread.
The statement is pretty dramatic and huge but here are some excerpts (emphasis ours):
- “It has become clear that any kind of systemic reform is decisively blocked.”
- “It is more than the mere lack of support or political will. These are concrete actions aiming to paralyse our reform efforts, ranging from a sudden removal of my security detail to the pressure to appoint questionable individuals to my team or to key positions in state-owned enterprises.”
- “The more radical our actions, the deeper our reforms, and the bigger our progress, the more pressure we had to endure. We learned how to overcome the resistance of the old system. Turned out, some of the ‘well-meaning newcomers’ are much worse.”
“Neither me, nor my team have any desire to serve as a cover-up for the covert corruption, or become puppets for those who, very much like the “old” government, are trying to exercise control over the flow of public funds. I am not willing to travel to Davos and talk about our successes to international investors and partners, all the while knowing that certain individuals are scheming to pursue their own interests behind my back.“
- “These people have names. Particularly, I would like to name one today. The name is Igor Kononenko. Despite representing the political party that had nominated me for my post, lately he has been bent on obstructing our efforts.”
- “I am a patriot of Ukraine. I live here, and so does my family. I deeply care about our country. We have done a lot, but the point of no return is yet ahead of us. Evil forces still want to wind things back. Let us get rid of all those who shamelessly siphon billions off the Ukrainian economy. These people have no place in the Ukrainian politics or the Ukrainian government.”
You can read the entire statement here.
Abromavicius was born in Lithuania but took Ukrainian citizenship when he became minister in 2014. He is also a former fund manager. The current administration led by President Petro Poroshenko has struggled to demonstrate reforms in order to gain aid from the US and European Union while the country’s economy remains in tatters.
In April 2014, the International Monetary Fund sketched out a bailout plan worth some $17.5 billion to come in a series of tranches while the European Union offered Ukraine about $2 billion in short-term assistance at the same time.
In return, Ukraine has to demonstrate it is reforming its economy and dealing with widespread corruption.
Ukraine has to borrow a heap of cash to help its economy because it finds it difficult to borrow money on the open market.
Ukraine’s issues were also further exacerbated when two years ago, the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea was controversially “reunified” with Russia by way of well equipped, organised, and trained “self-defence units,” who were actually Russian special forces.
The operation to seize Crimea began on February 27, 2014, when an unidentified task force captured several government buildings including the parliament in Simferopol. Within a month, Putin signed a treaty to annex Crimea and has since then turned the peninsula into a Russian forward operating base.
However, many Western nations still do not recognise the annexation of Crimea because of Russia’s military involvement. Russia, of course, denies any military involvement at all.
In March 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that the mountain of criticism and economic sanctions placed on his country for the illegal annexation of Crimea were creating difficulties for Russia. It also created issues for Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine said yesterday the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine negatively affected the economy — “The GDP decline amounted to 40% in 2015,” it said.
The World Bank affirmed its forecast that Ukraine’s economy will grow by just 1% this year.
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