Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday urged the government to curb wartime spending, but a phone call resulted in the resignation of the culture minister behind several high-profile and expensive projects.
In his nightly video address, President Zelensky said, “In times of war like this, the nation’s utmost attention, and therefore national resources, should be directed to defense,” referring to an earlier conversation with Prime Minister Denis Shmichal.
“Find alternative funding for projects that really need it,” he told Schmichal. This applies to many areas, including culture. Museums, cultural centers, symbols and TV series are important, but we also have other priorities. ”
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“I have appealed to local councils to exercise restraint so that people feel that budget resources are being used fairly and correctly,” said Zelensky, a television comedy star before entering politics. Cobblestones, street decorations and fountains will have to wait. Win first. ”
It asked Shmichal to “consider a successor” for Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko.
Tkachenko handed in his resignation letter within an hour, but said he held no qualms about his project.
“Wartime culture is important because this war is not only about territories, but about people – our memories, history, language and creativity despite the war,” Tkachenko, who was head of a television channel before entering politics, wrote in Telegram.
“Private and state funding for wartime culture is just as important as it is for drones. Culture is the shield that protects our identity and borders.”
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No word on whether his resignation has been accepted.
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A high-profile public figure, Tkachenko had earlier in the day defended an allotment worth $13.5 million to complete a museum dedicated to Ukraine’s man-made starvation in the 1930s associated with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s collectivization push.
He is also behind a privately funded project to replace the Soviet-era emblem on the shield of a 102-meter-tall (335-foot) “Motherland” statue just outside the city’s World War II museum.
Tkachenko also promoted movies and TV shows related to the war against Russia.
(Reported by Ron Popesky in Winnipeg and Nick Starkoff in Kiev; edited by Jamie Freed)