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Ukraine Parliament Confirms Central Bank Head's Resignation Over Smears, 'Political Pressure'

Ukraine's Central Bank Governor Yakiv Smoliy addresses lawmakers in Kyiv on July 3.
Ukraine's Central Bank Governor Yakiv Smoliy addresses lawmakers in Kyiv on July 3.

The Ukrainian parliament has voted to confirm the departure of central bank Governor Yakiv Smoliy, who says he resigned because of "systematic political pressure" to take decisions that were not based on economics.

Addressing lawmakers before the vote on July 3, Smoliy described his abrupt resignation two days earlier "a protest, a signal, a red line."

He said that "for a long time the National Bank [of Ukraine, or NBU] has been under systematic political pressure, pressure to make decisions that are not economically justified...and can cost the Ukrainian economy dear."

Smoliy said that the NBU was pressured to lower interest rates, let inflation rise, and keep the national currency, the hryvnia, weak.

He also mentioned smear campaigns against him and other central bank employees and paid rallies outside the institution.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office has denied that Smoliy has been put under pressure and sought to reassure investors that the NBU would remain independent under his successor.

Smoliy had headed the NBU since 2018.

His deputy, Kateryna Rozhkova, was named NBU acting chief and said that maintaining its independence would remain a "red line."

Smoliy announced his resignation late on July 1, fueling concerns among Ukraine's foreign backers and investors about the government’s commitment to its reform agenda under Zelenskiy, who has pledged to combat corruption.

The resignation could endanger a pending $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) aimed at helping Ukraine cope with the fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic.

The IMF praised Smoliy's leadership of the NBU and warned that the bank’s independence "must be maintained under his successor."

The EU said Smoliy's resignation "against the backdrop of alleged political pressure sends a worrying signal."

With reporting by Reuters and RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service
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