The governor of Ukraine’s central bank has resigned amid praise and threats over tough reform policies in the country's financial system.
Valeria Gontareva, a key reformist in the Kiev pro-Western government, announced her resignation on Monday following months of pressure to step down.
Gontareva told a televised news conference that she had asked to be relieved of her duties, saying that she had managed to complete her mission of transforming Ukraine’s crumbling banking sector since she took office in 2014.
The chief banker had faced opposition from both politicians and business executives, who believed she was too close to Russia.
Gontareva has been praised by governments and creditors in the West for adopting bold policies against corruption.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which supports Ukraine with a $17.5 billion bailout package, had repeatedly praised Gontareva for resisting pressure from politicians and interest groups. Her most notable decision was to nationalize the PrivatBank, an oligarch-owned lender which was believed to be granting loans only to parties related to its owners.
Gontareva said in her briefing with reporters that her resignation, effective on May 10, would not alter the general path of economic reforms being carried out by Ukraine. She warned, however, that resistance to change would increase after her departure.
The resignation has been accepted by President Petro Poroshenko, who has lost key reformist figures in his cabinet over the past three years. Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius and the head of the national police, Khatia Dekanoidze, were forced to leave office under the same pressure from extremist pro-Western, anti-Russian groups.
Ukraine slipped into political and economic uncertainty in late 2013. In the following year, a series of protests in Kiev led to the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovych and the rise of a pro-Western government.
The conflict deepened when voters in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia, while Ukraine’s eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, which are mostly populated by ethnic Russians, declared themselves self-proclaimed republics and engaged in a military conflict with Kiev.
More than 10,000 have been killed in the violence while Ukraine has yet to emerge out of its economic woes. Ukrainian officials and their Western backers blame Russia for the crisis while Moscow constantly denies the allegation.