Ukraine’s embattled Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk tendered his resignation following a scandal over what appeared to be leaked tapes of him lambasting the president’s “primitive” views on the economy.
But President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused to accept Honcharuk’s offer to quit.
A man whose voice resembles that of Honcharuk is heard in three audio files posted on YouTube this week, which claim to be the recording of conversations between the prime minister and finance officials, including the finance minister.
Honcharuk, a 35-year-old lawyer who became Ukraine’s prime minister in August, is alleged to have said: “Zelenskyy has a very primitive understanding of the economy”, and is also heard describing himself a “layman” in economic matters.
Zelenskyy earlier said he would “consider” the resignation.
The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s lower house of parliament – dominated by Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People party – convened on Friday to discuss the resignation.
After the meeting, Zelenskyy refused the resignation bid.
“I decided to give you and your government a chance if you resolve some issues that are very important today and are of concern to our society,” the president told Honcharuk in a video released by his press service late Friday.
“Now is not the time to shake the country economically and politically.”
He instructed security officials to find the source of the leak.
“I demand that within two weeks, as soon as possible, we should get the information on who was recording,” he was quoted by his press service as saying.
Law enforcement agencies should “find who did it and work it all out,” he said.