Ukrainian top security adviser Oleksandr Danylyuk announced his resignation on Friday in a new setback for President Volodymyr Zelensky, caught in a global scandal after a controversial phone call with Donald Trump.
The surprise move by the respected reformer was the first high-profile resignation since comedian-turned-president Zelensky took office in May on the promises to fight corruption.
Danylyuk, the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, did not disclose his reasons behind the resignation.
But analysts say it may have been triggered by Zelensky’s hesitation to break ties with a powerful oligarch and take a clear position on the fate of the country’s largest bank.
“I confirm the information about my resignation,” he wrote on Facebook, adding that he would stay in his post until the president had signed off on the decision.
Zelensky’s office confirmed that Danylyuk, appointed in May, sent his resignation letter before the president’s visit to the US this week.
“The president will consider it after returning to Kiev,” it said in the statement.
Zelensky was caught in a scandal this week for a phone call with Donald Trump, in which the US president allegedly tried to pressure his Ukrainian counterpart into getting dirt on former American vice president Joe Biden.
Danylyuk served as finance minister under Zelensky’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko and played a key role in the nationalisation of the country’s largest lender Privat Bank in 2016.
The bank was previously owned by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, accused of laundering $5.5 billion from it.
Kolomoisky, who returned to Ukraine this year after living abroad, has links to Zelensky.
The oligarch’s channel broadcasted Zelensky’s TV shows, and the president has employed several people who formerly worked for Kolomoisky.
Earlier this month, Zelensky met with the oligarch, who is looking to invalidate PrivatBank’s nationalisation.
The tycoon denied the two discussed a deal on the bank, but said he saw a “good window of opportunity” for a “settlement”.
This week, a mission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is propping up Ukraine’s stagnating economy, left Kiev with no decision after concluding its two-week talks on a new support program.