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Parliament committee rejects culture minister's resignation

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 26, 2023 3:10 PM 2 min read
Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine Oleksandr Tkachenko at a briefing in the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War on July 13, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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The resignation of Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko was not supported by a vote by the Parliamentary Committee on Humanitarian and Information Policy on July 26.

The committee stated that the issue will therefore be voted on by the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament.

On July 20, President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that he had asked Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal to consider replacing Tkachenko.

Later that evening, Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko announced that he was resigning from his position, claiming there was a “wave of misunderstanding about the importance of culture in wartime.”

Zelensky said that his decision was related to the minister’s decisions on allocating state funds.

On July 19, Tkachenko’s ministry announced that it will spend Hr 448 million ($12.19 million) on the production of Ukrainian television series. The high budget for the series created backlash, as did his previous decision to allocate a Hr 500 million ($13.54 million) budget to finish the construction of the National Holodomor Memorial Museum.

The costs of the projects have been criticized as unjustifiable during wartime.

"I would also like to appeal to all local authorities in our country: people should feel that budget resources are used fairly and properly," Zelensky stated. "Everyone understands what we are talking about. Paving stones, city decorations, and fountains can wait till after the victory."

The minister's resignation comes after growing protests against him. A petition calling for his dismissal reached over 25,000 signatures in June, the minimum amount needed for consideration by the government.

However, on June 19, Shmyhal said in response that there were currently not enough grounds for his dismissal.

At the Arsenal Book Fair in Kyiv on June 23, protesters interrupted an event Tkachenko was participating in by holding up placards that read "Tkachenko must go" and "Tkachenko destroys culture".

Workers in the cultural sector were concerned by the lack of protection of monuments and museums during the war and issues relating to obtaining official permission to leave Ukraine for professional reasons.

Tkachenko was also partly blamed for the Ukrainian State Film Agency's unpopular decision to reorganize the Dovzhenko Center, an organization that houses Ukraine's largest film archive. In October 2022, a petition calling for the decision to be reversed reached over 25,000 signatures, but the government refused to intervene.

Tkachenko previously wrote a letter of resignation in November 2021, in part due to his dissatisfaction with the allocated budget for culture for 2022. He stayed in his post, however.

This Week in Ukraine Ep. 15 – Why culture matters during war
Episode #15 of our weekly video podcast “This Week in Ukraine” is dedicated to Ukrainian culture, the important role it plays in war, and why it has been a target of Russian dictators for decades. Host Anastasiia Lapatina is joined by the Kyiv Independent’s culture reporter Kate Tsurkan. Listen to
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