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Ukraine PM Moves To Fire Finance Minister Amid Anticorruption Rift

Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk in Kyiv in September 2017
Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk in Kyiv in September 2017

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman has announced that he wants to dismiss Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk, who says Hroysman's move is politically motivated.

Hroysman wrote on Facebook on June 6 that he had submitted a motion to parliament for Danylyuk's dismissal, whom he accused of spreading "distorted information amid our international partners."

Danylyuk, 42, a respected reformer backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has been known for his anticorruption measures meant to reform Ukraine's fiscal and customs services.

The two officials have been at odds since Hroysman rejected Danylyuk's candidate for deputy minister in charge of tax policy on May 23. Danylyuk then accused Hroysman of favoring candidates chosen by President Petro Poroshenko's inner circle and wrote a letter describing his grievances to the G7 group of nations.

Danylyuk wrote on Facebook on June 6 that he had been asked to support "political corruption" or to quit.

"I had faced colossal pressure over the past year.... I was given a choice -- either leave or become an accomplice.... I will not sell out my country," Danylyuk wrote, adding that he wanted to address lawmakers.

International financial institutions have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars to support its stricken economy.

Corruption was among top reasons that prompted Ukrainians to take to the streets and oust a Moscow-friendly regime in 2014 but it remains a major problem despite Poroshenko's promises to tackle it.

On June 7, Ukrainian lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the creation of a new anticorruption court, a key condition in order for the IMF to distribute more aid to Ukraine.

The United States has highlighted the importance of establishing an independent anticorruption court in Ukraine.

In a statement issued on June 5, the U.S. State Department said, "the establishment of a genuinely independent anticorruption court is the most important, immediate step the government can take to meet those demands and roll back corruption that continues to threaten Ukraine’s national security, prosperity, and democratic development."

The IMF also says that an anticorruption court will be a "benchmark" of Ukraine's progress toward Western legal standards, and has said it would help ease the release of its loans in the future.

Western officials say Ukraine will be far better equipped to resist interference from Russia -- which seized Ukraine's Crimean region in 2014 and backs separatist militants who hold parts of two eastern provinces -- if it takes serious steps to combat corruption.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP
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