Governor of the Odessa region of Ukraine Mikheil Saakashvili has expressed his support for the Lithuanian-born Minister of Economy of Ukraine Aivaras Abromavičius after he announced his resignation due what he said was systematic corruption and blocking of important reforms in Ukraine.
Mikheil Saakashvili
© AFP/Scanpix

“I work with Aivaras at the Council of State Enterprise Reforms, whose chairman I have become on his initiative, and I would like to confirm that all of our initiatives to change the state business leaders were blocked personally by the Prime Minister through one of Petro Poroshenko block‘s Solidarity group‘s in Rada leaders - Ihor Kononenko and a few pressure groups,” said Saakashvili.

“Yesterday we talked for a long time with Abromavičius, he said a lot of interesting things. Isn‘t it sad that the Lithuanians and Georgians are forced to take the state‘s custodian function to protect from some unfair people who, though born in Germany, managed to get to power, and are damaging country‘s interests,” Saakashvili wrote that

The Ukrainian Economy Minister resigned on Wednesday because said his ministry was being hijacked by corrupt vested interests. In his statement, Abromavičius singled out a close ally of President Petro Poroshenko, accusing him of blocking the ministry's work and pressing for powerful jobs for his supporters, with the support of the president's office. Poroshenko later responded by urging Abromavičius to stay, adding that the anti-corruption bureau would investigate the allegations.

He said Ihor Kononenko, a senior lawmaker close to Poroshenko, had lobbied to get his people appointed as heads of state companies, culminating in an attempt to appoint one of his people as Abromavičius's deputy. A candidate had showed up demanding to be appointed, he said.

After that, "I received a call from the President’s Administration, whereby I was emphatically suggested to hire this individual, as well as another one, who would take the position of my deputy in charge of defence industry. I responded by declining to take part in this corrupt arrangement and by offering to resign my post," said Abromavičius.

Kononenko denied the accusations as "completely absurd", and said Abromavičius was trying to shift blame for his own failures in running the ministry. The Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said there was a campaign to discredit his government, and accused Abromavičius of "running from the field of battle."

Analysts said that Abromavičius's exit could derail plans to privatize around 100 state-owned companies, which were a plank of a reform program to turn around an economy which shrank by more than 10% last year. A group of envoys, including the U.S., German and British representatives in Kiev, said they were "deeply disappointed" by the resignation.

There has been mounting public dissatisfaction that the new, pro-Western government that came to power after a pro-Russian president was toppled in 2014 has not delivered on promises to stamp out corruption. The government's approval ratings have fallen sharply.

Abromavičius is a Lithuanian-born former asset manager who was brought in as one of several foreign experts to help run Ukraine's new government.


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