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Ukrainian oligarch says Zelensky should reject IMF’s aid or default on debt

Ukrainian businessman Igor Kolomoisky has called on the country’s new President Vladimir Zelensky to reject the International Monetary Fund’s austerity program or default on Ukraine’s external debt.

"In my opinion, we should treat our creditors the way Greece does," Kolomoisky said in an interview with the Financial Times. "That’s an example for Ukraine." In its battle with creditors in 2015, Greece became the first developed country that refused to repay an IMF loan, albeit temporarily, he recalled.

According to Kolomoisky, Zelensky’s landslide victory in the presidential election confirmed that the people of Ukraine want a break from the IMF-mandated austerity reforms and a clampdown on corruption. The voters cited these as their top reasons to vote for the comedian, the businessman explained.

"If Zelensky listens to [the West] and doesn’t make his own appointments he’ll end up like Poroshenko. He’ll have the same poll numbers 5, 10, or 15 instead of 73 per cent," Kolomoisky said. According to him, the United States and the European Union should write off Ukraine’s external debt. "This is your game, your geopolitics," he said. "You don’t care about Ukraine. You want to hurt Russia, and Ukraine is just an excuse."

This week the IMF’s mission arrived in Kiev for talks with the authorities on the deveopments and economic policy. The mission should make a decision on allocating another $1.3 bln loan to Kiev. Among the key factors influencing the IMF’s decision are bringing gas prices for the population to the market level, reforming the banking sector and reducing the state budget deficit. The IMF’s new 14-month stand-by program was signed in late December 2018, under which Ukraine may receive a $3.9 bln loan.

 

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