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Ukrainian President 'Sure' IMF Memorandum To Be Signed By End Of Month

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (file photo)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (file photo)

Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, says he is certain a memorandum with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will be signed by the end of May to bolster the country's finances.

"We have large debts to international entities. We are a serious nation, but we are a poor country. We are paying off billions of U.S. dollars annually to international organizations," the 42-year-old former comedic actor told a press conference on May 20 to mark his first anniversary in power.

"We will sign this memorandum, I am sure that we will sign it in May. It cannot be delayed," he added.

Ukraine has been in talks with the IMF for months about a three-year, $5.5 billion loan tied to reforms to help the country meet a spike in debt repayments this year.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said that about $3.5 billion of the total expected from the IMF is intended to go directly into the state budget.

Lawmakers approved banking legislation on May 13 that paved the way for billions from the IMF to flow.

Though the legislation also has other implications for Ukraine's banks, analysts say its main purpose is to prevent one of Ukraine's most powerful tycoons, Ihor Kolomoyskiy, the former co-owner of PrivatBank, from regaining ownership rights to the bank.

The IMF is said to have insisted upon approval of the banking law amid signs the government was considering returning PrivatBank, which is in the midst of a major legal and political fight involving Kolomoyskiy.

The bank was nationalized in 2016 when international auditors found a $5.5 billion hole in its balance sheet. Kolomoyskiy, who has close ties to Zelenskiy, has insisted that the bank was improperly nationalized by Ukrainian regulators.

Kolomoyskiy has denied any wrongdoing and maintains he is the rightful owner of PrivatBank.

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