Ukrainian parliament defies new president, keeps Cabinet
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday refused to accept the Cabinet’s resignation, in another snub to the nation’s newly sworn-in president.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the comedian who won a landslide victory in last month’s presidential election, faces a hostile parliament dominated by former President Petro Poroshenko’s supporters.
Zelenskiy called snap parliamentary elections for July 21 in a bid to get more of his supporters into parliament. In anticipation of that, lawmakers have sought to block the president’s efforts to form a more loyal Cabinet.
The Verkhovna Rada refused on Thursday to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, keeping his Cabinet in place.
That vote follows the parliament turning down a proposal by Zelenskiy to amend the electoral law last week.
Despite the Rada’s resistance, Zelenskiy on Thursday asked parliament to dismiss three top Poroshenko loyalists — Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak and SBU Security service chief Vasyl Gritsak. A date has not yet been set for a vote.
Zelenskiy also has called for the dismissal of Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko — a move that would similarly require parliamentary approval.
Also Thursday, Zelenskiy met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. After the meeting Maas and Le Drian issued a joint statement saying they would work toward arranging a summit of the leaders of the countries in the “Normandy format” talks on resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany are participants in those talks, which have shown little progress.