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Ukraine's economic minister resigns over government corruption

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Feb. 4, 2016 at 12:48 PM

KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Ukraine's economic minister resigned on Wednesday, saying government officials actively attempted to block his efforts to combat corruption.

Lithuanian-born Aivaras Abromavicius, 40, is the third government minister to resign in the last two months. He is one of several non-Ukrainian experts hired by President Petro Poroshenko to help end systemic corruption in Kiev that is a legacy of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was removed from office in February 2014.

In a statement to the media, Abromavicius said he did not want to provide "cover" for widespread government corruption, and said government officials had actively placed obstacles in his way.

Abromavicius, formerly an investment banker, said those officials included members of Poroshenko's administration.

"It is more than the mere lack of support or political will," Abromavicius wrote in a statement. "These are concrete actions aiming to paralyze our reform efforts, ranging from a sudden removal of my security detail to the pressure to appoint questionable individuals to my team or to key positions in state-owned enterprises."

Igor Kononenko, a member of Poroshenko's party, was accused by Abromavicius of attempting to hinder reform efforts in order to influence key appointments at state-run companies.

"I can only interpret these actions as a persistent attempt to exert control over the flow of money generated by the state-owned enterprises ... I refuse to be part of this system. Neither me, nor my team are prepared to serve as a cover-up for the schemes, old or new, that have been set up in the private interest of particular political or business players," Abromavicius added.

The announcement of Abromavicius' resignation was followed by the resignation of his first deputy, Yulia Kovaliv, and the rest of his staff.

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