Ukraine central bank chief: I quit over smears and pressure to take bad decisions

Ukraine central bank chief: I quit over smears and pressure to take bad decisions

© Reuters. Ukraine’s Central Bank Governor Yakiv Smoliy attends a parliamentary session in Kyiv

By Natalia Zinets

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Central Bank Governor Yakiv Smoliy said on Friday he had quit to register a protest against sustained pressure from the government and politicians to take policy decisions that had no economic basis.

Speaking minutes before parliament voted to approve his resignation, Smoliy said the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) had been pressured to cut interest rates, let inflation rise and the hryvnia devalue.

He also complained of smear attacks against him and other central bank employees, paid rallies outside the bank and pressure being exerted on courts where the central bank was involved in legal cases.

It was the first time Smoliy has spoken at length in public since his shock resignation on Wednesday evening rattled the market and raised concerns among Ukraine’s Western backers about the government’s commitment to reforms.

“My resignation – this is a protest, a signal, a red line,” Smoliy told lawmakers.

“I made a difficult but necessary decision – to resign, because for a long time the National Bank has been under systematic political pressure, pressure to make decisions that are not economically justified … and can cost the Ukrainian economy dearly,” he added.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s office has denied that Smoliy had been put under pressure and sought to reassure investors that the central bank would remain independent under Smoliy’s successor, who has yet to be named.

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