Ukraine's culture minister quits in spending dispute

11 months ago 66

Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko offered his resignation on Thursday after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy criticized the lawmaker for overspending at a time when the focus should be fending off Russia's invasion.

"In times of war like this, the maximum state attention, and therefore state resources, should be spent on defense. This is an obvious thing," Zelenskyy said in his nightly address to the nation.

"Museums, cultural centers, symbols, TV series, all of this is important, but now there are other priorities," he continued.

"Paving stones, city decorations, and fountains can wait till after the victory."

Culture Minister Tkachenko had a different take, though.

There had been "a wave of misunderstandings about the importance of culture in times of war," Tkachenko said on Telegram.

Oleksandr Tkachenko in ParisTkachenko's spending philosophy was at odds with his president'sImage: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

He defended spending on cultural projects, while nevertheless tendering his resignation.

Culture vital during war, Tkachenko argues

"Culture during war is important because it is not only a war for territories but also for people," he said.

"Both private and budget funds during the war for culture are no less important than for drones because culture is the shield of our identity and our borders."

Zelenskyy said he had asked Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to consider replacing Tkachenko. Within an hour, the culture minister said he would step aside.

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jsi/rc (Reuters, dpa)

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