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Ukrainian PM submits resignation after tapes emerge

Ukraine's prime minister submitted his resignation Friday, days after he was caught on tape saying the country's president knows nothing about the economy.

In a Facebook post, Oleksiy Honcharuk said he had given his resignation to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"I took this post to implement the president's program. He is an example of transparency and decency to me," he said.

"However, in order to dispel any doubts about our respect and trust for the president, I have written a resignation letter and submitted it to the president for introduction to parliament."

Earlier this week, an audio recording surfaced in which Honcharuk appeared to make disparaging comments about Zelensky's understanding of economics. He called Zelensky "a layman" in economics and said the president should be better educated about the national currency.

Honcharuk said the recording was a compilation of "fragments of recorded government meetings," and blamed unidentified "influential groups" for making it look like he doesn't respect the president. "It is not true," the prime minister insisted.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky's office confirmed he had received the letter and would take it under consideration. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

On Thursday, lawmakers from the opposition party Opposition Platform-For Life demanded Honcharuk's resignation, saying he and his cabinet discredit Ukraine's president and exacerbate the economic crisis in the country. Members of the ruling Servant of the People party said there were no grounds for Honcharuk to resign.

The Rada, Ukraine's parliament, must vote on whether to accept the resignation. Zelensky's office confirmed it had received the letter and said the president would take it under consideration.

Iryna Herashchenko, a lawmaker in the Rada, said Honcharuk should have submitted his resignation to parliament and not to the president — otherwise it doesn't bear any legal consequences and is merely "private political correspondence."

"In Ukraine, the parliament appoints the cabinet," she argued, adding that so far, the parliament hasn't received any documents related to the prime minister's resignation.

The scandal involving Honcharuk shows different political forces have started a fight for the position of prime minister, Volodymyr Fesenko, head of the Penta think-tank, told The Associated Press.

However, he said, the resignation is unlikely to be accepted: "Zelensky doesn't want to dismiss Honcharuk."

In the meantime, Zelensky demanded the provenance of the tapes be investigated.

"I demand that in two weeks, as soon as possible, we obtain information on who was recording the tapes," the Ukrainian president said.

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