On Friday, Ukraine’s Minister for Culture, Oleksandr Tkachenko, tendered his resignation in light of controversies surrounding the allocation of budget funds for cultural projects amidst the ongoing war with Russia, AFP reported.
Tkachenko submitted his resignation letter to the Prime Minister on Thursday night. In a statement released on Facebook, the now-former minister said:
Brought a resignation statement to the Premier tonight, due to a wave of misunderstanding about the importance of culture during war. Only then was surprised by the President’s statement on the same issue.
Culture during war is important because it is a war not only for territory but for people, and people are our memory, history, language, creativity despite the war, heritage and past for the sake of the future.
Both private and budget funds during the war on culture are no less important than on drones, because culture is a shield of our identity and our borders. And this is my principle position against others.
His resignation came on the heels of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement earlier in the day, suggesting the Prime Minister consider finding a replacement for Tkachenko.
“People should feel that budget resources are used fairly and properly,” Zelensky said during his nightly address.
“This applies to various areas, including culture. Museums, cultural centres, symbols, TV series — all of this is important, but now there are other priorities,” Zelensky added.
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On Thursday the Ukrainska Pravda news website published a story claiming the culture ministry had decided to allocate 448 million hryvnias (around $12 million) for the production of a television series.
Tkachenko recently told a radio show that it was appropriate to provide around $13 million to finish building a museum to commerate Ukraine’s 1932-33 famine, which is regarded by Kyiv as a deliberate act of genocide by the regime of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
“Such things, which speak of the suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people for decades by Moscow, should be reflected in the museum,” he told United States-funded Radio Liberty.
“If someone says that the museum should not be built during the war, let them give arguments other than that it is necessary to spend money on reconstruction. There are funds.”
Moscow rejects Kyiv’s account of the famine, placing the events in the broader context of famines that devastated regions of Central Asia and Russia.