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Ukraine: President Accepts Prime Minister's Resignation

Kyiv, 2 July 1997 (RFE/RL) - A spokesman for Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said today Kuchma had signed a decree accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko on health grounds.

The move came after Lazarenko said last night he was stepping down because of illness.

Lazarenko was temporarily relieved of his duties two weeks ago and taken to hospital. His deputy, Vasyl Durdynets, was named acting prime minister.

Leaders of parliamentary groups are expected to meet with Kuchma later today. Parliament, which is in recess from mid-July to September, has to approve within 60 days the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

Observers say Lazarenko's admission to hospital was widely seen as a ploy and a sign that Kuchma planned to remove him from power. Lazarenko had come under increasing pressure, with critics saying he had done too little to address Ukraine's economic troubles.